Every cheerleader wants great abs! But getting great abs isn’t about looking great in a cheerleading uniform. It’s about preventing injury and helping cheerleading bases perform their hardest. Having a rock solid core helps with lifting and throwing, and prevents back injuries that could get you benched during the season or haunt you later in life. Here are ab and back exercises that will help cheerleading bases build the strong core they need to perform at their top level. Full Vertical Crunch: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your legs straight and toes pointed to the ceiling. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Lift your shoulders off of the mat but do not use your arms to help you lift. Instead, contract your ab muscles. While lifting your shoulders, press your heels toward the ceiling. Lower your shoulders back down to the mat and then repeat. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions. Plank With Leg Extension: Get into a push up position, but instead of resting your weight on your hands, rest your weight on your elbows with your hands in front of you. This is called the plank position. Slowly lift one leg, keeping your knee straight. Keep your shoulders and hips lined up with each other and your abdominals engaged while holding your balance. Keep your back as straight as possible. Hold this position for about thirty seconds and then slowly return to the starting plank position. Continue to alternate your legs. Alternate Toe Touches: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and with toes touching the floor. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Keeping your right knee bent, lift it while bringing your left arm up and out to touch the right toe. Alternate, bringing your right arm up to touch the left toe. Remember to keep the non-moving leg firmly on the floor. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. If your neck hurts, modify the exercise by holding your head with your hands and lifting it up towards the ceiling for each repetition. Continue to alternate legs. Bicycle Crunch: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and resting on your chest. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Simultaneously straighten your right leg and bring your upper torso up to touch your right elbow to your left bent knee. Return to the starting position with your knees bent, resting on your chest and your shoulders flat on the mat. Repeat the same pedaling motion but on the left side now. Straighten your left leg and bring your left elbow to your right knee and return to the starting position. Continue to alternate your legs. Leg Lifts: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with arms extended alongside the body, palms down. Keep your shoulders, head and lower back flat against the surface. Lift your legs up until they’re at a right angle to your hips. Lower your legs slowly and stop a few inches above the floor. Hold your legs there for a couple of seconds. Slowly raise your legs back to the starting position and hold for a couple of seconds again. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Also, start the exercise easier by lowering the legs to about a 30-degree angle. Increase the impact of your leg lifts by lowering your feet as close to the floor as possible.