Cheerleading continues to grow in popularity, a trend that is exciting to watch. As the sport becomes more popular though, the competition increases. Teams now have to integrate elaborate stunts and advanced tumbling into their routines to remain competitive. More competitive routines mean cheerleaders must become stronger while not compromising safety. Fortunately, an increase in strength goes hand-in-hand with both more exciting routines and greater safety. Women are two to eight times more prone to knee injuries than men, partially because their wider hips cause a slight inward turn of the knee on landing jumps. With continuous practice, cheerleaders’ knees and ankles take a lot of punishment. To ease the impact on the knees and ankles and to make high jumps and advanced tumbling safe, women must be sure to build their leg strength. Building leg strength can, in turn, lead to higher jumps and safer solid landings, both of which help to increase team scores in competition. Increasing leg strength does not necessarily mean increasing leg size. The muscles that best allow the body to absorb and control impact landings are in the core area of the body and are comprised primarily of quick twitch muscle fibers. The core area of the body runs from the knees up to the lower abs and is the center of balance. A strong core increases spring ability and improves balance. Strengthening the core means developing the hip flexors, gluts, quadriceps, and hamstrings. This can be accomplished through resistance and weight training as well as regularly following a routine of exercises such as lunges, step-ups, and body squats. Fortunately, it is not difficult or overly time-consuming to incorporate these exercises into an already active lifestyle. During warm ups just prior to practice is a great time to do two or three continuous sets of five to ten lunges, body squats, and step-ups. It takes little time to add this routine to practice. Regularly following this regimen will develop a noticeable increase in core strength within 30 days. Further sets at home will help to build strength faster. Consistently doing sets at home is best accomplished when done at the same time each day or when one is engaged in a particular activity such as watching television. These exercises have the added benefit of improving balance, a quality all cheerleaders need. Cheerleading requires a great deal of energy. Basing, spotting and flying all require skill, stamina, and endurance. Building core and leg strength is an important way to make cheerleading not only more successful as entertainment and a competitive sport but also safer while the competition heats up. In addition to adding some new components to your workout routine, you might want to consider some new apparel options to make sure you have the comfort and style you want most throughout your training. Campus Teamwear offers a number of different options in camp and practice wear to make sure you’ll stay covered for the upcoming season. Some of the new items include the Lycra v-skirt with built-in shorts and the Half Moon Racer Tank. The skirt comes with elastic waist band and built-in Lycra shorts, so you’re not only covered, but comfortable. The skirt also comes in several popular colors, adult and youth sizes and custom rhinestone and embroidery options (for an additional fee). The Half Moon Racer Tank is another excellent option in practice and camp wear. The Racer Tank comes with a built-in shelf bra for extra support and breathable mesh accents, so you can keep your cool throughout the rigors of training. The tank is available in youth and adult sizes and several popular color options. Visit our website to see more products from our extensive selection of camp and practice wear lines and to get information on ordering any of these products.