Can You Keep Up and Work Out Like a Cheerleader? from Can You Keep Up and Work Out Like a Cheerleader?
Can You Keep Up and Work Out Like a Cheerleader?
You may only see them at college football games but cheerleaders are involved with an activity in one form or another all year long. There is a lot going on behind the scenes that most people, even the very active ones, won’t be able to manage, mentally and/or physically. “We never have an ‘off time’ where we have no cheer responsibilities,” Millery Null from the University of Alabama says. This is how they manage.
Can you go to practice every time it’s scheduled even if it’s more than three hours long? Cheerleaders can. “We practice every day of the week except Tuesdays and Fridays in the normal season,” Null says. “Our team usually practices for about three and a half hours each practice – sometimes more.”
Work out as a team twice a week
They work out as a team on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 5:30 am. “I wouldn’t say that we ever have an ‘easy’ exercise routine, but cardio is the easiest for the girls on my team,” Null says. High-intensity interval training has been a trending fitness routine for several years. It takes longer to recover after an HIIT workout, which means you’re still burning calories even though you’re not exercising.
Work out individually
When they don’t exercise as a team, they work out individually. “We work out in the football weight room and we are lucky enough to have strength coaches who design our workouts for our own benefits,” Null says. The top girls, all girl bases, and the coed boys all have different workouts designed for them, she adds.
Circuits and weights
They start the workouts off by a 10-15 minute warm up. “We then move into the weight room where we do circuits with weights and body weight workouts,” Null says. Circuits are in general a very effective, and sometimes easy, workout to tone up fast. A circuit of different types of planks, for example, will definitely have your core burning.
Add extra weight
The hardest part for the cheerleaders is, understandably, adding weights to the workout. Can you run on a treadmill at an incline with 10 pounds on your back? “We have an easier time with our body weight workouts, but the dumbbells and other weights challenge us the most,” she adds. Although using weights is the hardest part of the workouts, Null says she feels that she gets great results from adding extra weight.
Dumbbell push press
This is an exercise that primarily targets the shoulders. It’s a simple move but definitely not easy. Stand up holding a dumbbell in each hand facing each other. Your arms should be bent. Dip your knees, and then quickly push up with your legs – like half a squat – and push the weights up over your shoulders. Can you do 15 of these?
Bent over row
This is one of Null’s favorite exercises with weights. “This helps the top girls with their arm and shoulder strength in hand-in-hand stunts (handstand stunts).” Also, this uses other muscles in the legs to help when jumping off the ground in stunts and tumbling, she adds.
This is one cardio workouts that Null says she gets the most out of. “Although these workouts are not FUN and are the hardest to get through, they benefit us the most.” Many people like the half gassers better than conditioning drills because you have to stop, switch directions, turn around and start again.
This is another cardio workout that Null says is not “fun” but is very effective. Plate pushes allow you to reap the same type of conditioning benefits without the added cost or storage space required with a prowler sled. You think sliding a 45-pound plate is easy? Try it and let us know. You can see how to do plate pushes here.
“I am not on a diet, but I do try to eat healthy,” Null says. Healthy eating helps keep you in the best shape that is needed for you to perform the best. “When I hear ‘diet’ I think of someone trying to lose weight. My team and I don’t try to lose weight. We simply try to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she adds.
“I run pretty much every day to maintain constant stamina,” Null says. “We might not work out or have practice some days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do something.” If you can, run outside. Research has shown that people who run on treadmills burn less energy than those who run the same distance but outside, mostly because there is no wind resistance and changes in terrain.
“On my rest days I try to either go to the gym and get in some cardio or I go to the cheer gym and stunt with some of the guys on the team for fun,” Null says. “I try to do something that isn’t too strenuous on my body because rest days are important for recovery.” Know some of the best exercises to help your muscles recover faster.