Get Strong Legs And Be A Better Base

by omni

The position of a base on a cheerleading squad is exactly what it sounds like: they are literally the foundation for the team. You can’t build a pyramid without a strong foundation and the same saying goes for a cheerleading team who’s goal is to perform stunts that are solid. Bases not only need to know proper stunting techniques but they also need to condition appropriately to be able to handle the physical strain of lifting another person. Bases need a full body fitness plan, that builds muscle and stamina, to make it through a routine with lifts. For a cheerleading base to be successful, it is mandatory that they have strong legs to minimize weight and pressure on the back, toned arms for lifts and twists, and of course a strong core with toned back supporting muscles. It’s very important for the base to lift with the legs to prevent any back strain or other very serious injury. Can I just stress one more time how important this is? Don’t ever lift with your back! Building up the strength in your legs and hips will become one of your main lifelines for basing. I know this may come as a surprise to a lot of novice cheerleaders who think its all about the arms, but I know some of the more experienced bases and coaches are nodding vigorously in agreement right now. Below is a compiled list of exercises that will build up your legs for more controlled basing. Remember to properly warm up and stretch before performing any of these exercises. Exercise Bike: A great way to warm up, combine cardio, endurance and solid muscle strength for your legs is the exercise bike. You can control the resistance depending on your skill level. 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. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge. Calf Raises: Stand in an upright position and, keeping your body straight, rise up onto the balls of your toes. 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. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge. 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 you for balance. As you are lowering, 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 not to 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. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge. Leg Presses: Leg presses are done on a machine at the gym. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Sit down, grasp the side handles and push away from the platform. Remember to engage you abdominals to get a full body work out and decrease risk of injury. As you push the platform, slowly extend your legs until they are almost straight (you DO NOT want to extend your legs fully as this will cause damage to your knees). Then reverse the motion and bring the platform back to the starting position slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Please remember that it’s not about how much or how fast you can press. You want to complete these with slow motion repetition goals verses weight goals. You will build better endurance, reduce risk of injury and build solid lean muscle verses muscle that is bulky. Lying Leg Curl: Leg curls are another machine based exercise. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Lie face down on the leg curl machine, place the pads behind your ankles and slowly raise the pads until they touch the back of your thighs. Then slowly return the pads back to the starting position. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Again, I want to stress how important it is to do higher repetitions verses the weight rather than the other way around. Leg Extensions: Yet another machine exercise to do at the gym, this is a great exercise to target the quads. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Sit on the bench and place the pads on the lower, front part of your shin just above the ankles. Slowly extend your legs straight forward, with your knees straight. Once they are fully extended, squeeze your quad muscles and then lower your legs back down slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. DO NOT use momentum to help you lift the weights. This will cause serious injury and will not help you build muscle. If you feel that you are doing this because the exercise is too hard, simply lower the weight. Again, this exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions. If you’re a coach, a parent or even a fellow cheerleader, who wants to see their flyers really push the barriers in stunting, check out all of the past articles for cheerleading flyers. Week 1: Core strengthening your legs Week 3: Flexibility Week 4: Balancing Techniques

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