About twice a week, I get a request from a cheer athlete (usually a guy) that is asking for advice on how to better hit a particular skill; typically a stunt of some sort. While some have quite a way to go to achieve the particular skill, more than often, I see a lack of strength that is the only thing holding them back.
The term “strength” is such a loaded word and can be defined and improved upon in COUNTLESS ways. For the purposes of this, we are going to focus on 3 aspects of strength and give you guys (and girls…I mean c’mon, there are girls doing cupies these days…crazy) ways to improve upon them…s’go!
1. Explosiveness- Not only do we need to be strong, we need to be FAST with the ways we express that strength. There are MANY ways to describe cheerleading, and SLOW ain’t one of em! It wouldn’t matter if you could lift 300lbs if it took you 3 minutes to do it (or couldn’t do it to 8-counts). Basically, what were talking about is being able to produce force QUICKLY. An easy way to think about it is….let’s say you can do a toss hands and then press to extension. If the girl weighs 100lbs and it takes you 4 seconds to complete the entire stunt including the hands to overhead, that is your base speed. If you tossed her faster (toss extension versus toss hands then press) and she got to extension in 1 second, you just increased your explosiveness while keeping the weight (flyers weight) the same.
So to apply this to exercise, if we want to increase the explosiveness, we can either keep the resistance the same and work on physically moving it faster…OR…we can increase the resistance and make it our goal to move the higher weight the same speed as the lighter weight we did before (or both…if you’re just CRAZY).
2. Stability- Did you know that your body has over 700 muscles…700. There are more muscles in your body than there are cities in California (by almost double). Go ahead and google it…I’ll wait. A big subset of these muscles are what we call stabilizer muscles. Now, stabilizing muscles aren’t different than some of the bigger more well known muscles, they’re usually just smaller and instead of producing large amounts of force, they guide movement made by the bigger guys to make sure that it is controlled. When it comes to cheerleading we aren’t lifting a solid structure, we are lifting a living and moving object (even when your flyer is tight, she’s still moving a little….yes she is…I promise. Yes you are, Jessica. I know you’re squeezing, but you still move a little…anyway…); that makes stabilizing muscles that much more important.
So to apply this to exercise, if you want to increase your stability (cleaner and more sturdy stunts) you must do activities that require them to work. Perform exercises using a kettle bell, single arm movements, working on unstable surfaces like the Spring Core Balance, using resistance bands instead of solid objects, and even use a person as a weight (make sure you have a spotter, please).
3. Power- General strength. You have to have that too. You can be explosive and stable but if it’s only with 10 pounds, you won’t be able to put anyone in the air. So work on general strength as well…pretty obvious, but worth mentioning.
Another thing worth mentioning is the the Workout Wednesday that we post every week…definitely check that out.
The Cheer Doc is an online resource for cheer athletes, gymnasts, tumblers, and other acrobatic type athletes to learn how to improve athletic performance as well prevent injuries.