Weight Training for Cheerleaders?

weight training for cheerleaders


Conditioning is a major part of being an amazing cheerleader. Strength is a major part of being an amazing cheerleader… So why do many of the girls shy away from weight training?

Weight training is a system of strength training which involves using weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, as resistance in order to build strength, anaerobic endurance and increase the size of muscles. At a basic level, the benefits of weight training include:

  • Increased strength + power
  • Injury prevention[2]
  • Increased metabolism[3]
  • Increased mobility

So with such important and beneficial results for cheerleaders, why are we shying away?

Myth 1 – I’ll get bulky and not look feminine (for the ladies)
This is almost always the main reason people shy away from weights. For women, it’s practically impossible to “bulk like the hulk”. Women don’t produce enough testosterone to become incredibly bulky. Generally, weight training will enhance your natural feminine curves, just google “women weight training before and after”.

Myth 2 – Cardio is the best method for fat loss
Lots of research is actually suggesting that weight training, in comparison to purely cardio, is the most effective exercise for fat loss. However, incorporation of both cardio and strength training will give you the best results in terms of this goal.

Myth 3 – I’ll gain loads of weight
When partnered with good nutrition, your muscles may get bigger, but you’ll create lean mass by burning the fat on top of the muscle also.

Lets consider exactly what kind of exercise cheerleading is, it is roughly 73% anaerobic exercise [4]. This means cheerleading is mainly a type of exercise where the energy for each skill comes from the sugars present in the muscle cells and not from oxygen in the blood. In basic terms, a short duration of intense exercise. An anaerobic exercise ends at about 2 minutes. Some examples of anaerobic exercise are: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), sprinting (running or cycling), jumping or heavy weight lifting.

So, what are the actual benefits of lifting weights in cheerleading. It’s common knowledge that a cheerleader needs to be both agile and strong. Obviously those under the stunt need to be strong to hold their flyers up. Tumblers need explosive power in order to complete high level skills. Everyone needs to be hella strong (that’s, of course, the technical term), including flyers. If you’ve got a weak flyer in the air, they could be squeezing all the muscles in their body but what’s the point if there’s no structural integrity.  I can say from personal experience (me being the weak as hell flyer), if you’re a flyer and you don’t have a strong core, squeeze all you want but you won’t be able to complete high level skills until you work on your strength.

So! Why continue to train ineffectively? Make the jump into the awesome world of weight lifting. Trust me, it’s great.

Here’s an example leg workout of mine:
Warm Up: 1km run for time, some ab work followed by dynamic stretching

  • 5×5 – Front Barbell Squat
  • 5×5 – Single-Leg Leg Press
  • 5×5 – Barbell Deadlift
  • 5×5 – Sumo Deadlift
  • 5×5 – Barbell Glute Bridge
  • 5×5 – Cable Glute Kickback

I personally try to keep everything varied but always going to a similar pool of tried and tested exercises. I lift at least twice a week and I stick mostly to weight training but I’ve also worked in the C25k (Couch to 5km) program and HIIT bike sprints/treadmill sprints as well. My sweet spot is about 4 days a week (2 day legs, 2 days upper body w/ HIIT “cardio” warm ups).

After the World Championships are all wrapped up, I’ll write a little about creating your own efficient workout plan and how to stick to it. Stay Tuned.

Update: How To Write Your Own Workout Plan

Lots of Love,


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