Exercises are an important part of any fitness routine. An active cheerleader needs to remain fit and hence needs to exercise the right way, to give the best performance. I am a cheerleader myself and I have faced troubles myself, not finding a comprehensive guide explaining all the exercises for cheerleaders.
After doing in-depth research, talking to various fitness coaches and cheerleaders, I have finalized the list of exercises for different cheerleading routines for your easy reference. So let’s delve deeper.
For the list of essential things that you need handy for your cheer workouts, you can check this section below.
Cheerleading warm-up exercises
Your body should go through a proper warm-up exercise routine. Proper warmup exercises are required to prepare your body for heavy physical sports. Hence, don’t directly jump to cheerleading stretches without warming your body up. It can create cramps, unnecessary lactic acid formation in the joints, and damage tissues.
Cheerleading warm-up exercises must include stretches, spot jumps, running, and some leg exercises like leg cycling, leg scissors, etc. The main aim is to get yourself started before the actual act.
Here are some warm-up exercises you can inculcate in your daily routine:
Stretch all your body parts from head to toe. It includes arms cycling, body twisting, hip rolling, leg twisting, etc. This strengthens the muscles and improves the balance of the body.
You can use this 15 minutes full body stretch routine for great results.
2. Spot jumps and spot running
Energize your body first with spot jumps and eventually start with spot running. Continue this for a few minutes before moving on with the routine. Remember to take it easy and slow at the beginning.
3. Leg cycling and leg scissors
Leg cycling includes lying down and cycling your legs for a few minutes. Leg twisting is the basic cross-ward movement of the feet while keeping your legs straight and lifted from the ground. It makes the legs stronger and boosts the core.
Cheer exercises for bases
Bases remain on the ground. They are the ones responsible for throwing, catching, and coordinating those who are performing stunts. They need to have a strengthened core, strong shoulders, and legs too.
Cheer exercises for bases must include exercises for the legs, shoulders, and core. Bases form the base of the pyramid, so they need to have strength in their legs and shoulders.
Some relevant exercises for bases include.
1. Leg exercises
Bases provide support to the entire weight of pyramids and other gimmicks. They provide constant support to the flyers and stunts people. Wall sit is a leg exercise beneficial for them. Squats and lunges are a must exercise to include in the training of the base. You can start off with free squats and lunges and then move on to weighted squats and lunges. Steady and strong legs are crucial for bases. Learn how to do squats and lunges properly using the video below.
2. exercises for the Shoulder
Bases lift flyers and hold their weight steady. A flyer pushes their shoulder to jump. Dumbbell shoulder press increases shoulder strength. A shoulder press with a dumbbell includes holding dumbbells in front of your shoulders with the palms facing out and the elbows bent.
Put pressure on the dumbbell vertically. Their weight can be modified accordingly. It allows the arms to work on their own enabling an equivalent strength distribution. This dumbbell collection (view on Amazon) with 3 sets of weights can suit your purpose for effective results.
3. Core exercises
improving the core strength of a cheerleader is important. The V sit-up is an exercise that requires full-body movement. It is a combination of leg raise and partial sit-up. To perform this, lie on the back with arms straight up over the head and straighten the legs.
Now try and touch both feet with both your hands arching backward. Increase the level of difficulty gradually increasing the duration of time to hold the position. Use this video to learn more about this exercise.
Cheer stretches for flyers
A fantastic cheerleading team must have trained flyers. Flyers need to have a firm, strong and flexible body. Seated hamstring stretch, push-ups and pull downs are the best cheer stretches for flyers. The shape and weight of the body are also to be maintained for them, so a food diet should be maintained by flyers.
Let’s look at some stretches that would be beneficial for them to improve their physicality and confidence:
1. Seated hamstring stretch
Stretch the hamstrings and lower your back in this position. Sit on the ground, with the legs spread in front and lean forward towards the feet. Do not push yourself if you cannot reach the feet in the first attempt, you will reach there eventually.
Hold this position for a few seconds. Next, try to touch your feet one at a time, sitting in this position.
2. Push-ups and pull-downs
For doing push-ups kneel on the ground and place your hands on the floor directly under the shoulders. Stretch your legs behind, balance your body on your hands and toes. Try to form a straight line.
Then bend your elbows reaching a 90-degree angle and lower your chest towards the floor. Repeat this several times, increase the number gradually. For pull-ups, hold a bar with your elbow angled a bit and pull yourself up.
Try until your chin reaches the bar. Repeat several times, perfecting this would take time.
Cheer stretches for jumps
To perfect a jump, one needs to be very flexible and light. The elasticity of the muscles needs to be improved and trained to perform jumps gracefully yet energetically. Stradle, pike and hamstring stretch are the best cheer stretches for jumps.
Jumps are a very crucial and hard part of cheerleading, and to achieve a good jump one has to go through a tough routine. Here are some basic stretches that help improve body flexibility:
It is a stretch that includes sitting in a straddle and then leaning forward to touch the ground with hands joined together over the head. It is a very beneficial exercise for having a balanced core.
A pike is a position in which the two legs are spread straight in front and the aim is to touch the toes with hands raised above the head. It might not be possible to reach the toes in one go, but with practice, it comes easy.
3. Hamstring stretch
A hamstring stretch requires the cheerleader to sit with the legs stretched out in front. Hold the legs by the ankle and push them back towards the chest without bending the knee. It keeps the vital leg muscles at ease.
Cheer stretches for the back
All the cheerleaders need to have a strong back. It supports the entire weight of the body. Without a flexible and firm back, it is difficult to perfect most of the cheerleading drills. It shapes the body structure and is required to be maintained. Low Plank, bridge and superman are the best cheer stretches for the back.
Let us go through some back exercises that you can practice at home:
1. Low plank
This is a very beneficial exercise to make your back strong. Lie with your face down, and then lift your body with the support of your toes and your elbow-arm part.
Make sure your fists are clenched. Stay in this position for a minute, and increase the duration eventually with practice.
Lie with your back down, keep your arms straight and relaxed beside. Then bend your legs and with their support lift your back as much as possible. Hold this position for a minute. You can increase the duration at your own pace.
Want to be a superman on the ground? Then this is can be your favorite exercise. Lie on your stomach and stretch your arms in front. Then lift both your legs and your arms, supporting the body on the stomach.
It will be somewhat like a back arch. Hold this position for as long as you can. Increase the duration of the exercise accordingly.
Cheerleading cool-down exercises
Before starting with the performance of cheerleading, the body of the performer needs to be adequately warmed up. But post the rigorous training, your body needs to cool down. Cooling down your body helps balance the body temperature. Light jogging, knee to chest pose and an upper body stretch are best cool-down exercises for cheerleaders.
Here are some cool-down exercises for cheerleaders:
1. Light jogging or walking
It helps relax the muscles and controls the blood flow. Workouts increase our blood pressure, taking a walk after practice can cool down your body.
2. Knee to chest pose
This position relaxes the back and leg muscles. Just lie down on your back straight and pull up your knees to your chest. Hold this position for a few seconds and then repeat the same with your other leg. A set of 3 works the best.
3. Upper-body stretch
Starting from arms to your waist body stretch helps prevent cramps and makes the body flexible. It is mandatory as a cool-down exercise. Stretch back and forth from your waist, stretch your arms sideways and always remember to stretch the neck.
4. Butterfly position
Fold your legs sideways, join your feet together and put your arms down to hold the toes. Remain in this position for a few seconds. Gradually, you can try to move your knees up and down staying in this very position. Remember to keep your back straight and body relaxed while you do this.
Does Yoga help in cheerleading?
Yoga is an ancient Indian process of meditation and stretches that boosts the functionality and the immunity of the body. It calms the mind and energizes the body.
The stretches and different postures (called Asana) in yoga immensely contribute to the making of a strong core. Apart from the health benefits, Yoga also makes the muscles and joints fluid and elastic helping a cheerleader remain agile and flexible.
Here are some stretches that can be beneficial for cheerleaders:
1. Bow Pose
This is also called the Dhanurasana. All you have to do is lie on your back with your legs and arms stretched. Then slowly try to hold both your toes with your hands, arching backward balancing on your stomach.
2. Wheel Pose
This posture might be a bit difficult for beginners, but it is fun once you get the hang of it. It is also called Chakrasana. Stand straight lift your arms and arch backward. You can take the help of a wall for support initially.
The aim is to gradually bend back and place your hands on the floor. Hold your body in that position for some time before lying down in your resting position.
Eventually, try to do this posture without support, and try to get back up the same way returning to the standing position.
3. Forward Fold
This is a posture that is used as a basic warm-up exercise. Stand straight and lift your arms. Gradually hinge down from your back and try to touch your nose on your knees and your fingers on the toes.
Cheerleading Exercise Essentials
You must have a few basic things with you in order to have a good workout that does not hurt your body. Let’s list them out here:
- Yoga Mat: Yoga mat is a very important part of any workout or yoga session. It acts as a cushion and reduces the stress on the joints and also on the skin. I usually prefer a thick yoga mat for my cheerleading warmups. I recommend this 1-inch yoga mat from Balancefrom (view on Amazon) for your easy shortlisting.
- Dumbbells: Doing weighted exercises add to our strength. Dumbbells can help you achieve this objective. Having a set of different weight dumbbells can improve your workout by adding different levels of tension to your muscles. I use this lightweight dumbbell set from Amazon basics (view on Amazon) for my workout sessions. If you want a more customizable set you can buy this adjustable dumbbell from Bowflex (view on Amazon), although it is a bit on the costlier side.
- Resistance Bands: These bands can helo you make better stretches and improve your overall workout. I use these resistance bands from ROSAPOAR (view on Amazon), and would surely recommend them to both beginners and experts.
- Cheer Shoes: Wearing proper shoes for your workouts is often undermined by many. I recommend Chassé Apex Cheerleading Shoes (view on Amazon) with proper cushioning for your cheer workouts.
- Water bottle: I use this water bottle from Embrava (view on Amazon) to keep myself hydrated during the cheer sessions. You can use it too.
- Backpack: Packing your things and having them ready in a proper form gives me peace of mind before I leave for my workout. You can read this exhaustive guide on backpacks to choose the one as per your needs. Nfinity Black Sparkle Backpack (view on Amazon) is the one I use.
Get Ready with Your Basic Cheerleading Kit
A basic cheerleading kit consists of the minimum requirements that a beginner cheerleader needs for his/her practice and events. Proper uniform and comfortable shoes are a must and they help the cheerleader for his/her overall well-being and safety. This section will help you choose the uniform and shoes as per your requirements.
Cheerleading Uniform: Uniforms form an important part as you can well understand. Choose the proper uniform as per your school/event specifications. However, do take care to choose a fabric that is breathable and helps you stay comfortable during the performance. Relevant helpful resources:
1. What Fabric Is Used For Cheer Uniforms? A Common Question
2. Best Cheerleading Uniforms For Toddlers: Too Cute To Avoid – If you need an awesome cheerleading uniform for Halloween!
3. What Do Cheerleaders Wear Under Their Spankies? Demystified – Innerwear is important in this sport.
4. Check out Amazon’s Webpage for Cheerleading Uniforms – They have a good collection
Cheer Shoes: If you want to perform confidently as a cheerleader, you need comfortable shoes. Just as any other field sport, wearing proper shoes can make or break your performance. Choose the best fitting shoes as per your requirement. Some helpful resources for you:
1. Best Nike Cheerleading Shoes That Are Comfortable And Cheap – Comfortable and cheap cheerleading shoes from the best brand in this domain.
2. Best Cheer Shoes For Wide Feet That Fit The Way You Want – There are shoes specially designed for wide feet. This article helps you choose the proper one.
3. Check out Amazon’s Webpage for Cheerleading Shoes – They have shoes fitting everyone’s needs.
4. Check out the 7 Best Shoes For High School Cheer that are cheap yet comfortable.
Cheer Backpacks: Arranging things every time before your practice can be tedious. Keeping everything organized neatly in a backpack can be the key and help you save time and effort. I have made an exhaustive guide for you to choose the right cheer backpack for yourself at various price points. Do check it out if you need help.