If you want to improve your cheerleading abilities outside of practice, one thing you can do is to train your body at home. Having a strong body will help you with body control for tumbling, jumps, and stunts. Listed below are 5-7 exercises that have been placed into categories for each part of the body. The exercises can be done according to the category or used as a total body workout. For example, if you just want to focus on legs, do each exercise in the “Legs” category. If you would like to focus on multiple body parts or make it a total body workout, pick one or two exercises from each category to do.
These exercises can be done in a circuit, 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round. You can also incorporate cardio into the workout. Include exercises from the “Cardio” category in front of, in between, or after your chosen exercises.
Jump Conditioning Complex: In this complex, you will sit on the floor in a straddle position. Place one hand in between your two legs and one outside of your right leg. Next, you will lift your leg off of the ground while keeping it straight. You should feel it working your hip flexor muscle. Rotate your leg in a circle 8 times clockwise and then 8 times counterclockwise. Repeat on the left leg. This drill is going to help make your jumps higher. Your hip flexors are the main muscles responsible for pulling your legs higher in jumps. If you practice this jump complex at home, you will find that your jumps will get much higher. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Step-Ups: To do the step-up exercise, you must find an object such as your bed, the couch, or a chair. Place one foot onto the object. Next you are going to stand up onto the object. Try not to use your lower leg to jump. Once you have stood up onto one leg, make sure to tighten your glutes at the top. This exercise is going to make it easier for you to stand up into stunts as a flyer. If you aren’t a flyer, it will make your legs stronger and more powerful for stunting and tumbling. It will work your quad muscles and your glutes as well. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Air Squat: When doing air squats, remember to keep your knees in line with your feet. You never want them to go in front of your feet, or you are putting yourself at risk for injury. Sit backward like you are sitting in a chair. Try to hit a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the squat. You can incorporate weights into this exercise to make it harder. Having stronger legs will help in all aspects of cheer. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Calf Raises: This exercise will help you get height in your tumbling and jumps. It will also help middle layers in college pyramids to be more steady when standing on your base. When doing calf raises, make sure you are lifting your heels fully off of the ground, and lowering them all the way back down to the floor. To make this exercise harder, you can do them on stairs and let your heel drop below parallel. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round
Each of these arm exercises is going to help bases and flyers alike. Having strong arms will provide stability and strength in stunts. It will help flyers hold body positions and inverted stunts. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Tricep Dips: You can either perform a tricep dip using just the floor, or you can do it on an elevated surface. Place your hands so that your fingers are facing in towards your body and your wrists are facing away. Bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, then push them back to a straight position. You can either bend or straighten your legs out in front of you for this exercise. Straightening them will make the exercise harder. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round
Handstand Hold: For this exercise, you will need a wall or some surface to stabilize you while in a handstand. Kick up into your handstand, keeping your hands about shoulder-width apart and head neutral. During this exercise, push through your shoulders and hold tight. Make sure to squeeze your ab muscles during this so that your weight doesn’t sink into your lower back. Instead of doing 20 reps, this exercise tries to hold the position for 30 seconds or longer.
Plank Up-Downs: For this exercise, you will be in a high plank position. Then you will transition to a low plank position by bending one arm then the other. Afterward, you will go back up to high plank one arm at a time. During this exercise, you want to ensure that your body is staying still and not rocking from side to side. Keep your core engaged. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Wrist Rolls: For this exercise, you can fill a grocery bag with items to give it some weight. Grab the handles with your palms facing down. Then you are going to lift the bag by moving your wrist up and down. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round
Pushups: These can be done from your knees or your feet. Make sure when doing your pushups, you are keeping your head neutral. Engage your core so that your lower back doesn’t sink towards the floor. Also, try to do a full range of motion by touching your chin to the floor then fully straightening your arms back to the top. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
A strong core is the most crucial thing that cheerleaders can have. It is the most important group of muscles for having body control. 3 rounds 20 reps of each exercise per round.
Reverse Crunches: Start by laying flat on your back with your feet together. You then want to bend your legs and bring your knees up to chest level. Afterward, straighten your legs and control the speed back down to the floor. You should be feeling this exercise in your lower abs. Try to make sure that your lower back stays pressed to the floor.
Hollow Hold: On this exercise, it is very important to keep your lower back pressed into the ground. Think of pulling your belly button towards the floor. Lift your legs and your shoulders off of the ground. You can either bend your legs or straighten them. The straighter and closer to the ground your legs are, the harder the exercise is. Work towards being able to hold the position with straight legs about six inches off of the ground. You can either hold your arms at your side or above your head.
Sit-Ups: Lay on the ground with your legs bent in front of you and your hands behind your head. Next, sit all the way up without lifting your feet off of the ground. To help, you can either have a partner hold your feet or place them under an object such as the couch. Remember to keep your head neutral and allow your abs to do all of the work.
Bicycle Crunches: Lay on your back with your legs bent, feet and shoulders off of the ground, and hands behind your head. Then, you will alternate touching opposite elbow to knee. As one knee bends to meet the elbow, the other will straighten and vice versa. Just like you would pedal a bike.
Suitcase Crunches: For these, you will start in a hollow hold position with your legs straight and six inches off of the ground. You will also lift your shoulders off the ground. Then you are going to fold into a sitting position with all of your weight on your tailbone. Then from the top, you will unfold back to the straight hollow position. Your arms will remain on either side of your body.
Cheerleading involves a lot of cardio and strength at the same time. Mixing cardio into any workout is a great way to prepare you to go full out at practice.
Jumping Jacks: These are a quick and easy way to get your heart rate up.
Burpees: Burpees are a fantastic way to add cardio to any workout. For more of a challenge, try to do them quickly and incorporate a pushup at the exercise’s bottom.
Running: If you have a treadmill at home, this could be a great and easy way to incorporate cardio into your workout. If the weather allows, you could also take a run outside before, after, or add sprints during a workout. If neither of these is an option, you can always jog or sprint in place. All options will raise your heart rate.
High knees/Tuck jumps: High knees are a great move to work cardio and abs. If you use your lower ab muscles to lift your knees up, they will get good work as well. Do the high knees faster for more intense cardio. Tuck jumps require a lot of power from your body. Use your legs to explode through the jump. Bend your knees so that they bend to a 90-degree angle at the top of the jump. You can place your hands at hip height and try to have your knees touch your hands.
With these exercises, you can build your own home workout. Putting in extra work at home and building strength will help you to improve your cheer skills even more than just training at the practice.