We recently dug up an older article from Active.com with some great conditioning exercises for the upcoming cheer season! According to the Active.com article, conditioning is a vital aspect of cheerleading. By performing the exercises listed in this article, a cheerleader can increase “overall fitness level” and give themselves the skills they need to cheer “at an improved and high level”. Here’s how to perform the exercises: Crunches give cheerleaders strong stomachs – a very important element of cheerleading. Building a strong stomach gives way to better cheer jumps and aids in stunting, pyramids and gymnastics. To perform these exercises, start off with legs bent, chin facing the ceiling and should blades slightly off the ground (focus on keeping your shoulder blades off the ground). The article recommends you begin with 25 and work your way up to 100. With Side Crunches, apply the same rules used to perform regular crunches – the only change being in the legs – which should be bent and leaning to one side during this exercise. Otherwise, perform “side crunches’ as you would perform “crunches’ mentioned in the previous paragraph, beginning with 25 and ultimately trying to work up to 100. Toe touches and Pike Sit-ups are a great exercise to aid cheerleaders’ with increasing flexibility and help them with toe touches. Begin this exercise by lying down with legs straight and arms above your head. Next, in one quick and sharp motion bring the legs and body up into a toe touch position, then quickly snap your legs back together and return to the lying position on the floor. If you really want to “feel the burn’ during these exercises, you can also perform it in a piked position. The article recommends these sit-ups be performed in 3 sets of 10 reps. Before beginning Leg Lifts try laying in front of something you can grab onto – like a bed post. To perform Leg Lifts lay on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Next, lift your legs to a 90-degree angle and then lower them down until they almost touch the ground and then repeat. Begin with 20 reps and work your way up from there. Partner Leg Lifts are performed with one person laying straight on the ground with their legs out in front of them, while the other person stands just above the head of their partner. Holding onto the ankles of the standing partner, the person on the floor will attempt to lift their legs to a 90-degree angle. Upon reaching the 90-degree angle, the standing partner’s is to push their partners’ legs down as hard as they can – objectively all the way to the ground, while the person on the ground will attempt to apply resistance, stopping their legs before they hit the ground! Integrating crunches, side crunches, toe touches, pike sit-ups, leg lifts and partner leg lifts to your current exercise routine will not only improve conditioning, but overall performance. Additionally, cheerleaders who do incorporate conditioning exercises may enjoy a competitive advantage over teammates who may have not, potentially putting them in a better position to make this year’s squad and impress coaches by illustrating their work ethic during the off-season. Incorporating these relatively simple conditioning exercises into a cheerleader’s workout routine not only improves flexibility, endurance and conditioning, but should help cheerleaders build stronger muscles, improve overall strength and reduce injuries. Additional perks may include a cheerleader’s ability to cheer with intensity for a longer period of time, less soreness and quicker injury recovery time.