Yoga might not fit into traditional fitness plans incorporated with cheer training. Sure, you need cardio and core strengthening conditioning sessions to get you into top physical condition for the cheer season, but low-intensity workouts bring their own benefits to the fitness table, too! To truly go full out, you have to maintain a well-rounded level of fitness that includes strength training, consistent cardio, endurance training, and yes, even meditation! That’s where activities like yoga come in‚ to help cheerleaders achieve that balance (pun intended). There are many wellness benefits to yoga, but there are some things about it that apply to cheerleaders more than to other athletes. 1. Yoga increases flexibility. This is a given‚ yoga helps you bend. But, yoga poses aren’t the normal stretches that an athlete does before and after they workout. Stretches in yoga activate muscle groups that lay dormant in other exercises as you twist your body in unconventional ways. This is great for cheerleaders, since stunting requires most of the muscles in your body! Yoga covers all of your major and minor muscle groups, and with persistent yoga sessions, you will not only get these muscles used to being activated, but also increase the flexibility of your muscles as you do. It’s a win-win! 2. Yoga heightens mental acuity. As you train, one thing that most cheerleaders overlook is their mental wellness. Cheerleading is fun, fierce, and full of challenges, which can sometimes lead to becoming overstressed and overworked. Yoga, and other alternative workouts, help to decompress participants through meditative breathing, focus, and channeling your energy away from mental stressors. Cheerleaders lead very active lives‚ with calendars lined with cheer, school, and social engagements‚ so taking time out to breathe and reflect does more good than you think! Plus, with a clear mind, cheerleaders can focus better when it counts! Breaking down tough choreography becomes easier with less mental clutter, you sleep better at night, and you’re able to overcome obstacles you never thought possible‚ all just by taking the time to condition your mind. 3. Yoga protects you from injury. Say, what?!? It’s true! Injuries happen for more reasons, but many are from strains and muscle tears. In cheerleading, concussions are the number one injury, fact, and there’s not much you can do about that besides try to cheer safely. But, yoga does help protect you from other cheer injuries! Yoga stretches not only your muscles, but the ligaments that hold your muscles together; since they are regularly getting activated, your ligaments don’t tear as easily. 4. Yoga gives you more energy. That’s right‚ ditch the energy drinks and venti Starbucks frappachinos (not the healthiest choice anyway)! Through the muscle activation and the mental meditation, you walk out of yoga feeling refreshed. It’s why people go! Because of the downtime you’ve taken to revitalize your mental and physical health, you have (without knowing) fueled yourself with energy for other activities. Yoga is like taking a vacation for your soul‚ go away for an hour and come back to face the rest of your day! How else does yoga help cheerleaders? How has yoga made an impact in your cheer career? Tell us your story in the comments!
Health & Fitness
You’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into practicing a cheer routine over and over again for the upcoming
cheerleading competition. You are physically ready to dance, tumble, stunt and yell your heart out to get that first place trophy. But have you put much thought into your diet the week of competition down to the actual day? This is a surprising detail that a lot of
cheerleading teams dismiss as they do not understand the importance of nutrition and how it will effect them when they perform.
It’s easy to get stressed before the big competition and either be to stressed to eat or eat too much. Both will throw off your cheer performance completely and effect your outcome of winning dramatically. It’s important to remember that what your putting into your body that entire week leading up to the competition will either be a disadvantage or a game turning advantage.
So what does your body need the week of competition and how do you get it?
Your body will need the maximum amount of stored energy that it can pull from when you are putting your all into the routine. Think of your body as a car that needs to fuel up before a long drive. Your need to fill up your glycogen stores for the maximum amount of endurance and energy by increasing the amount of carbohydrates your body. Your food amount intake should remain the same as you usually eat. However, you should be eating complex carbohydrate foods with low glycemic indexing. Examples of complex carbs include wheat pastas, wheat breads, healthy cereals, and baked potatoes. Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates, decrease the amount of high protein foods such as fish, eggs, and meat, and try to minimize the amount of fat intake. These foods should should be proportioned into small meals or snacks every two to three hours.
What does your body need the day of cheer competition and how do you get it?
The day of competition, you’ll want to keep up the complex carbohydrate intake in small meals or snacks, while keeping your intake on fiber, fat, and protein low. You can choose from wheat bread, healthy cereals, oatmeal, fruits, fruit juices, plan crackers, boiled rice, potatoes, pasta, muffins, and carbohydrate drinks that have high electrolytes such as Gatorade.
What about right after the competition?
After the competition, your energy level will be low and your glycogen stores will be used up. You’ll want to eat something that will raise your blood sugar levels up quickly. Foods that are higher on the
glycemic index such as watermelon, potatoes, brown rice, bagels, etc are perfect for raising your blood sugar.
In conclusion, remember that what you put into your body the week of your cheerleading competition will help determine the outcome of your scores. Eat healthy complex carbohydrates, less protein and fat in small meals every couple of hours, and you’ll have plenty of healthy energy to pull you through the performance.
From the top of your legs, down to your ankles, we’ve made a list of the basics you need to get the leg-up on conditioning. Keep in mind with all of the exercises on the list: as you progress or just need more of a challenge, choose two dumbbells that you would consider a challenging weight and hold them at your side during the entire execution of the work outs. Remember that you will be holding these weights during the entire exercise, so make sure you will be within comfortable limits for your body. This resistance will provide great results and revamp the work out.
- Lunges: Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Place your right leg a step ahead and bend your right knee. Remember to keep your back straight while you lower your body until your left knee touches the ground. Finally bring your legs together and repeat the exercise by alternating legs.
- Squats: Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Slowly lower your body until your butt is in line with your knees (knees at 90 degree angles). If you can’t go down that low, go as low as you can. You might also find it helpful to extend your arms straight out in front of your for balance. As you are lowing, make sure your knees are behind your toes. While keeping your weight in your heels, slowly push your body back to starting position. Make sure to not lock your knees when you reach the top of the starting position. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise.
- Walking Lunges: Stand up straight with your shoulders back and down and place your feet together. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. You have the option of keeping your arms flat at your side, holding your hips or behind your head. Take a step forward with your right foot and bend both knees. Your front knee needs to be aligned over your ankle and the back knee should come close to the floor with back heel lifted off the floor. Before your back left knee touches the floor, push up with your left leg. Force your body weight through your right heel while bringing your left foot together with your right foot. Alternate legs without stopping and lunge forward with your left foot. Remember when bending knees, your left knee is aligned with your ankle and your right knee should come inches to the floor with the back heel lifted off the floor. Start with a shorter walking distance, then slowly progress further in distance as your body becomes more acclimated to the exercise.
- Calf Raises: Stand in an upright position and keeping your body straight, rise up on your toes onto your heels. Then lower yourself back down until your feet are flat. The key to success in this exercise is to execute it slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise.
Remember to do an appropriate warm up and stretch before before executing any of these exercises a light stretch afterwards to prevent soreness.
The Science Behind Music
Forgetting your iPod when your headed to the gym is like forgetting your water bottle. If you think your music helps with your
cheerleading workout routine, your thinking in the right direction.
pubmed.org, studies show that songs with a BPM (beats per minute) between 120-140 will increase your workout success by 10%! People who listened to the upbeat playlist had raised heart rates and were far more motivated than the group who listened to the slower tempos. When “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.” The group that listened to the slower music had the opposite effect and their entire performance dropped.
How To Create Your Playlist
cheerleading fitness playlist is more than choosing your favorite songs. As mentioned above, to improve your performance at the gym you would need to create a playlist with songs that have 120-140 beats per minute. You can either count how many beats the song has for one minute or you can download software for your computer that will do the counting for you. Even going onto google and searching for songs with a BPM of 120 will bring up a whole slew of pages dedicated to bringing it’s viewers exercise playlists.
Finally, you can go into iTunes and both enter and sort by the BPM. Remember after a rigorous workout, you’ll need to cool your muscles down by doing a light walk on the treadmill. This would be the perfect opportunity to add some slower songs at the end of the playlist to help slow your heart rate down.
In conclusion, your playlist is more than something fun to listen to at the gym. It’s a motivator and will help you increase your workout success by 10%! We want to know what some of your favorite workout songs are. Leave a comment below!
Nothing wows an audience like an expertly executed heel stretch, performed with smiling grace. Achieving that grace takes a lot of work. With practice, you’ll be able to make the heel stretch look as natural and effortless as breathing.
Obviously, this move requires a great deal of flexibility. Make sure you are fully warmed up and at your most limber before you practice.
1. Stand with all your weight on one leg, keeping it slightly bent for balance. Swing your “heel” leg back as if you’re preparing to kick a football.
2. Tilt your torso forward a little and kick the imaginary ball – but keep the trajectory going. Lift your leg as high as it will go. As a beginner, you will likely need to give your leg a hand, grabbing a hold of your heel and pulling your foot toward your face. Do not grab your toes or any other part of your foot. Use your left hand to grab your left heel, the right hand for the right heel.
3. Once you have the heel firmly in your grasp, keep pulling it toward you until your leg is parallel with your torso and forming a right angle to the ground.
4. Keep smiling, be graceful and don’t show the slightest sign of strain as you lift the arm not holding your leg straight up in the air. Hold this arm beside your head so that it is against your ear.
5. Now it’s time to wave. With your elbow locked in place, angle your arm slightly forward – then twist it while moving it away from your body. If you are lifting your left heel, you’ll move your left arm to the right of your body; the right arm swings to the left when you raise the right heel.
Tips: Keep the leg you’re standing on at a right angle to the ground. If you have long legs, keep your hand below the heel. If your legs are short, keep your hand above the heel. Under no circumstances should you grab your toes, as this could cause you to lose your balance.
Remember to always dress in the correct
practice wear for comfort and safety.
Campus TeamWear has Lycra tops and matching skirts with built in shorts, perfect for movement, stunting, and tumbling. Remember to wear the correct
cheer shoes for practice.
Asics have a great line of shoes with good support that are made for stunting, and for those who want a style that is a little more budget friendly, the
Chasse cheerleading shoe line has perfect shoes for tumbling because of the support and the grip.
Any athletes who are serious about improving and competing at their full potential
should be strength training. Cheering requires strength, so the better equipped your muscles are to do it, the better you will be at it. It won’t even take up that much of your time. Go to the gym if you can and want to, or do it while you’re watching the Voice. It’s a small commitment that will have big results.
Here are four exercises that will turn you into a lean, mean cheering machine:
1. Lunges. You can do these with or without weight. No matter how good of shape you are in, you will be sore after doing these, so don’t overdo it. Start with walking lunges with no weight. Do three sets of 20 lunges, taking a break in between each set. The “break” is a good time for an exercise that targets another muscle group, like your arms or abs. If this becomes too easy for you after a while, you can grab 10- or 20-pound dumbbells to hold while you do them. If you’re doing them at home and don’t have weights, improvise. Hold a gallon of milk in each hand or a brick from the backyard.
If you want to get really crazy, do jump lunges. Lower into a lunge, then jump back up instead of standing up. Switch your legs in the air and come back down on the opposite leg. Then jump again and land with the other leg in front. Try this 10 times without weight. When it becomes too easy, you can do more repetitions or hold 10-pound dumbbells while doing it.
2. Squats. Squats are so good for you. They work everything in your leg, especially if you continue up into a calf raise at the end. But they are also serious business and can lead to knee injuries if done incorrectly. There are a lot of squat variations, but, in general, keep your feet just wider than hip-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Bend your knees and go down low enough that the tops of your legs are parallel to the ground. Think of it as the tops of your legs making a table. Someone should be able to come set a ball on the top without it rolling off. But you should also keep good posture, so if you can’t go that low without hunching your back forward, just go as far as you can. If you have knee problems, you will also not want to go down as far. There shouldn’t be any pain (other than your muscles burning, but that’s a different kind of pain). Once you’re down there, come back up, pushing through your quads and hamstrings. Go all the way up on your toes into a calf raise before coming back to your normal standing position, then go back down again. Try three sets of 10 at first, resting in between each set. Add weight as you get more comfortable. You can grab dumbbells like you did with the lunges, but if you have access to a gym, you might find a weight bar on your back more comfortable to hold. Start with just the bar, as most weigh 45 pounds, then add to it incrementally as you get stronger.
As with the lunges, you can drop the weight and do jump squats. From the squat position, drop down and then jump up as high as you can. Land softly with slightly bent knees, come back to standing, and do it again. Start with three sets of 10, resting in between each set.
Another great variation is single-leg squats. Start with no weight or grab dumbbells and put one leg on a chair or bench and the other out in front. Do a set of squats on that leg, then switch and put the other leg on the chair. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 squats on each leg.
3. Push-ups. Push-ups are a great arm exercise because they work your entire arm” “and even your core. You’ve probably been doing these since grade school PE classes, but the only thing you really need to remember is to keep your back straight. Don’t raise or lower your hips. If you feel the need to do that, you’ve reached the maximum amount you can handle (which is the goal!) and should stop and rest before doing another set. Mix up your hand stance, which will target different parts of your arms. You’ll be able to tell what muscles you are working, but basically when your hands are close together, like directly beneath your shoulders, you’re working your triceps. As they get farther out, you’re emphasizing the shoulders. There’s no wrong answer for what muscle you should emphasize, and you’ll find that in some positions you can do push-ups all day long, while in others it’s a struggle to do two. Work on your weaker areas!
4. Planks. Now that we talked about an arm exercise that also works your core, let’s try a core exercise that also works your arms. Planks work your abs hard and will tone your arms in no time. You can either do these with your forearms and elbows on the ground, which will put more emphasis on your abs since they’re handling more of the load, or do them up on your hands, in a push-up position, which will make your arms do more of the work. Both your arms and abs will be worked plenty in both positions, so you can either mix it up and do both stances, or just choose your favorite. Do a front plank with both hands/arms on the ground, then turn to one side and put your other arm in the air, then do the other side. Start with holding the plank position (back straight, hips not sinking or rising to take the pressure off your core) for 30 seconds on each side. Do that every day for a week, then move up to 45 seconds for a week, then a minute. Planks have a great mental aspect to them as well as it takes and builds discipline to make yourself hold that position as you start to shake from exhaustion. That discipline will carry over into other areas of your life.
Don’t forget to warm up beforehand
‚ jogging, stationary bike, jump rope, jumping jacks, etc.
stretch when you’re done! As always, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
What are your favorite strength-training exercises?
As cliched as it may be, a new year is the perfect excuse to give yourself a makeover (and we’re not just talking a change of nail polish colors).
As a cheerleader, the new year is a great time to get back in those good habits that may have fallen by the wayside during the hectic fall and winter seasons.
Nutrition and healthy eating is one habit all cheerleaders should work on. It should come as no surprise that what you eat plays a huge role in how you perform. The tricky part of this is that sometimes you don’t even realize you aren’t eating the right foods. The side effects can vary from fatigue to
a lack of focus. A lot of people may shirk off these side effects as the result of a lack of sleep. In reality, it may all have to do with your eating habits. If your diet isn’t balanced, your cheerleading skills can take a tumble.
Here are six food rules every athlete should follow:
- Increase Your Protein Intake
Feeling nauseous or drained during practice or after a performance? You may not have had enough protein. Protein is gold and it can provide more energy and strength than anything else. The foods with the highest amount of protein per serving are meat, poultry, and fish – from beef and salmon to chicken and eggs. These are great foods to eat for lunch or dinner. For vegetarians, tofu and tempeh are great high-protein foods. If you want to take a protein-rich snack with you to practice, go for nuts (like almonds, peanuts, and cashews), seeds (sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin), and peanut butter.
- Don’t Stuff Yourself
Overeating (or just eating too many carbs, like pasta and bread) before a day at practice or a competition can almost guarantee you a less than stellar performance. When you eat until you can’t eat any more, you end up feeling tired and sleepy soon after. This is the last way you want to feel when you’re working with your team. On cheerleading days, don’t stuff yourself.
- Snack Often
Just because you’re not supposed to eat too much doesn’t mean you should go hungry. The golden rule is to eat less but more often. Try having five smaller meals a day, rather than three large meals. The more often you eat, the more fuel you’re providing your body, which can then be used for cheering, stunting, and tumbling. Never go to practice on an empty stomach and without a small snack of some kind. Easy, packable snacks include granola bars, trail mix, peanut-butter crackers, veggies, and fruit.
- Carbs Aren’t the Enemy
While you should avoid a giant bowl of pasta right before a performance, don’t think you can’t eat any carbs. It’s all about eating the right kind of carbs. Swap white bread for wheat; white rice for brown rice or quinoa; and cereal for oatmeal.
- A Spoonful of Sugar
After a long practice or intensive routine or game, it’s important to raise your blood sugar. It’s amazing how a little bit of sugar can get you feeling better almost instantly. Avoid candy or chocolate, which can upset your stomach before and after exercise and instead opt for fruit, muffins, or bagels.
- Drink Up
Perhaps the most important rule is to hydrate as often as possible. The normal person should drink around eight glasses a day. An athlete, who is sweating and burning major energy, should be drinking at least double that amount. Always have a water bottle nearby or in your bag. While you should always be drinking a lot of water, electrolyte-enhanced beverages, like Vitamin Water and Gatorade are great options for when you want some flavor.
How do you stay healthy? What are your favorite foods and snacks?
- Increase Your Protein Intake
Cheerleading jumps are a basic skill, but they are mandatory for
all levels of cheerleading. Jumps are a feature of
sideline and elite choreography, and a requirement for most
cheerleading tryout routines! Jumps function as a crowd-pleasing move, but they also teach you valuable techniques that will help you pick up advanced moves and choreography at a faster pace.
It’s important for a cheerleader to
master jump entry before moving on to the full jump. Performing the basic entry steps in repetition will help your body build muscle memory so that the movements needed for jumps become like second nature. Don’t forget to
stretch and warm up!
How To Perform A Pike Jump for Cheerleading
- Start your jump entry with your feet together, your arms straight down on your side and your hands in fists.
- Clap your hands and then put your arms into a High V position, and come up onto your toes.
- Swing your arms down while bending your knees and lowering yourself into a squat. You want to help build momentum for your jump, so put a little power into this move!
- From your squatting position, you will swing your arms up and use your legs to launch yourself into the air.
- Once in the air, pull your legs up straight out in front of you at a 90 degree angle, bringing them up to your chest as high as you can. At the same time, lean your upper body forward and reach for your pointed toes, keeping your arms straight. Try to keep your legs and arms parallel to the ground during your jump. Be sure to point your toes!
- Your legs should be together when your feet hit the ground, and you should bend your knees to absorb the shock. As you are landing, you’ll also start pulling your arms down. After your feet hit the ground and you straighten your legs, you’ll bring your arms straight down by your side, keeping your hands in fists.
*While executing these each of these steps, make sure they are down quickly and consecutively of each other, so your jump will be one continual, smooth and powerful motion.
In Salinas, California, more than twelve parents have accused a cheer adviser of bullying
cheerleaders on the squads.
The Steinbeck Football & Cheerleading Organization is a community program that includes several cheerleading squads, led by a cheerleading adviser. While some claim that evidence is unsubstantiated, others say there are rumors that Child Protective Services have been called to look into the situation.
The general consensus among a dozen parents is that their children are being treated too harshly.
The criticism they receive isn’t constructive and, as a result, they’re intimidated to speak to the coach. Some say that their children have been bullied to tears and their questions are ignored.
Other parents argue that the adviser is only pushing the cheerleaders to try their best and work their hardest. The issue will be brought up at the next board meeting and we hope the issue is settled.
Bullying is never okay, whether it’s from a teammate or coach. If you’re a cheer parent and you think your cheerleader is being bullied or put in danger, you can visit the
National Cheer Safety Foundation for many great resources.
Do you think this coach sounds like a bully? Or, are the parents being too sensitive?
News Source: Central Coast News
Did you know that, in terms of concussions and head trauma, cheerleading is the second most dangerous sport after football? Or that cheerleading accounts for
65% of catastrophic injuries among high school female athletes?
Considering that many school cheer teams don’t compete, that means cheer is dangerous from the sidelines as well. Take a look at a few different ways cheerleading can be dangerous, from collisions to falls.
1) Collisions. Cheerleaders aren’t just
waving colorful pom poms. But even when they are, disaster can still strike. Take for example the Boise State incident that happened just last August. During a football game, a player attempted to catch a ball and ended up trampling a cheerleader on the sidelines.
At a NFL game, a Miami Dolphins player accidentally ran into a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader on the sidelines. Since she was cheering facing the spectators, there was no way she could have seen the player coming (as you can see in the video below).
2) Miscommunication. Sometimes, a simple lack of communication can cause a big accident.
During a 2007 Auburn High School football game, the football team ran through a banner held up by the cheer squad. What was the problem? Someone didn’t tell one of the cheerleaders (who was fixing a portion of the banner) the team was about to blast through the banner. As a result, the entire football team trampled over her.
During a school performance, a Westfield High School flyer wasn’t caught by her teammates after being tossed in the air. Because of miscommunication, some of the cheerleaders thought the flier would do a back flip and land on the ground while the flyer thought she was supposed to do a basket toss. She landed hard on the cement several feet behind the bases and spotter.
3) Stunt Mishaps Even without collisions and miscommunication, there are always injuries due to dangerous stunts, no matter how experienced the cheerleader.
This past November before a basketball game, an Orlando Magic cheerleader fell from the shoulders of another cheerleader and hit her head. She fractured three vertebrae and broke a rib. As a result of the accident, the of Florida banned their cheer team from any further
tumbling and stunting (which of course upset a lot of cheerleaders).
During a pregame practice, a St. Vincent High School cheerleader fell during a lift. She landed on top of the coach (who was attempting to catch her) and injured her neck.
Concussions, significant head injuries, and even paralysis can occur when stunts go wrong. During tryouts one year, a then 14-year-old cheerleader named Laura Jackson attempted a back tuck but cracked her head on the floor when the flip was not a success. She is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Unfortunately, these incidents aren’t as unusual as they should be. It isn’t just accidents or stunts that put cheerleaders in danger either; some of the most common injuries for cheerleaders include twists, fractures, and sprains which occur during tumbling. A slight error in a
back handspring or front tuck can cause a painful injury.
Flyers aren’t the only ones getting hurt either. Many bases and spotters suffer injuries during tosses and catches – from the more serious injuries like broken noses or bloody gashes from getting kicked or elbowed by the flyer, to less serious (but still painful!) incidences like getting fingernails ripped off or suffering from scratches.
While appropriate equipment, proper
practice wear and uniforms, and communication can prevent a lot of injuries, cheerleading is still dangerous and accidents still happen. Many cheerleaders, like other athletes, face a lot of pressure to return to the sidelines or mats, and end up re-injuring themselves because they didn’t
take enough time off to heal from the original injury.
Have you or a teammate suffered an injury from cheer? What safety measures does your squad take? Share your thoughts and leave us a comment below!