Week 5: Strength Training Arms
If you’re a base for a cheerleading team, you are well aware by now that arm strength is crucial to becoming a better base. Tossing, lifting, twisting and catching other girls in the air is not for the faint or weak. Many females, in general, tend to lack the arm strength their male counter parts have, so arm strengthening is the key ingredient to a cheerleading base’s exercise routine. From your triceps to your wrists, I have a fitness plan that will make you a lean, mean, lifting machine. Please remember to stretch and warm up before performing any of these exercises to prevent injury.
Aside from gym machines, here are some at home exercises you can do to strengthen your upper arms.
- Pushups: Lie down on your stomach with your toes to the mat and your legs straight, together and parallel to each other. Your hands should be positioned at shoulder level, but slightly further out than shoulder width, palms flat and fingers spread apart to help with balance. Don’t look at the floor while performing this exercise. You want to look straight ahead to keep your entire body in a straight line. Slowly straighten your arms and keep your back and legs straight while pushing your body off of the floor. Stop for a moment once your arms have reached the top and then slowly lower your body back to the floor by bending your elbows. You’ll want to lower your body until your chest is touching the floor. Keep repeating this exercise in sets to see full results. If you want more of a challenge, place your hands together in a diamond shape using your thumbs and index fingers, at shoulder level and perform the pushup.
- Upside Down Pushups: Get into position by doing a handstand against the wall (you’ll be using the wall to help you keep your balance). When you do the handstand, make sure your not too far away from the wall by placing your finger tips as close to it as possible. Positioning yourself too far away will cause back and neck strain. Lower your body by bending your elbows and keeping your body straight against the wall. Then straighten your elbows to push back up. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions.
- Chair Dips: Take a chair and get into a sitting position, back straight and feet flat on the floor. Grasp the front edge of the chair and rotate your palms so they are facing away from you. Walk your feet out in front of you until your buttocks is no longer over the chair, but in front of the chair. Keep your back as close to the chair as possible and dip your body down by bending your elbows and keeping your back straight. Dip until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and then straighten your elbows to return to the starting position. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions. If you need more of a challenge, take a second chair and rest your heels on it. Repeat the dipping motion, but this time your body will be fully elevated off of the floor.
The weakest part of your arm is your wrist and you’ll be amazed at how many other cheerleading bases share the same strife. Weak or injured wrists will bring pyramid building to a screeching halt. It’s important to take precautions and prevent injury by building your muscle strength in your wrists. Here are some tried and true wrist exercises that other cheerleaders use to strengthen their wrists.
- Wrist Lifts: You’ll want to start with a weight that is fairly light to prevent straining a weak area. A can of soup weighs about ten ounces and is great for beginners. If you need more of a challenge, grab a free weight of about two pounds. Please remember that you will be doing high amounts of repetitions so make sure you grab a weight you’ll be comfortable with. Hold the can in your hand and face your palm upward. Slowly lift the can up and down with your wrist. It’s very important that you do this motion slowly to target your muscles in your wrist. Start with two sets of twenty five for each hand and slowly add more repetitions as your wrists become stronger.
- Hand Squeezes: Grab a tennis ball or a stress ball and slowly squeeze and release in each hand. Do two sets of twenty five in each hand and slowly add more repetitions as your wrists, hands and forearms become stronger.
In addition, before you put your flyer in the air, make sure you and your fellow bases grab a shoe and work out timing, hand and finger positions and coordination. This gives you and your team mates a chance to work out any confusion before risking the safety of your flyer.