As a former college cheerleader, I’ve always known the athleticism of the sport—and now, I’m praising Netflix’s new docuseries, Cheer for (finally) bringing that knowledge to the masses. If you haven’t watched yet, first, what are you waiting for? Second, a little recap: It’s all about the team at Navarro College, a community college in a rural Texas town, known as Corsicana. And it’s basically the best thing to happen to the power of cheerleading since Bring It On (except better, because this time it’s real life).
The team is full of inspirational members—the stories of Jerry, La'Darius, Morgan, and Lexi may actually make you sob—but their physical capabilities are also crazy motivational. While it may be too late for you to try out for a spot on the mat in Daytona (that’s where the national championship competition takes place, for those yet-to-be-initiated), you can do a workout routine that gets you a step closer to their stunt-sticking, high-jumping, stand-out stamina skills.
Created by former Syracuse University cheerleader and founder of CheerFit, Danielle Donovan, ACE-CPT, this workout targets everything cheer athletes need to reach peak performance: “It includes core stability, flexibility, power, balance, and endurance,” she says. “Each exercise of this workout is designed to work the muscles cheerleaders need to keep fit and prevent injury.”
You probably spotted some girls on the show doing ab exercises to ensure they’d get a spot on competitive stage, watched others stretch out their legs against a wall to strengthen their flying flexibility, and you probably saw the entire team checking off push-ups and burpees when a top girl hit the ground. So you better believe you’ll see a few of those exercises in this workout, helping you get a taste of the blend of dance, cirque de soleil, and gymnastics talents needed to crush the cheer competition. Here, the moves you need to hit trophy-worthy shape.
Do each exercise below for 12 reps. Then repeat from the top for a total of 3 sets—more if you want that high-energy endurance build.
Split Squat to Liberty
1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Step your right foot back into a reverse lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees and back knee hovering just off the floor.
2. Drive through your feet to jump up, switching your feet midair, so your left foot lands behind and in a lunge position.
3. Step back up to stand, pulling left knee in toward chest. Repeat from the top.
Side Lunge to Kick
1. Start standing with feet together. Step out to the side with right foot, keeping left leg straight. Send hips down and back into a squat position on the right side, knee and toes pointing forward.
2. Drive through right heel to step back up, bringing right knee up toward chest at the top and then kicking right leg straight out in front of you.
3. Without placing your right foot back down, step back into a right side lunge. Repeat, then switch sides.
Single Leg Stretch
1. Start lying on your back, legs extended and arms straight out in front. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor, and lift your feet a few inches off the floor. Hold.
2. With toes pointed and legs straight, pull one leg then in toward your chest and grab your calf with your hands. Pause for a count.
3. Then switch legs. Continue alternating, with legs straight.
Squat Jump to High V
1. Start standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms by sides. Push hips down and back to lower into a squat.
2. Push through feet to explode up into a jump, straightening legs and simultaneously lifting arms overhead into a V shape (you should see your arms out of the corner of your eyes).
3. Land softly back down in a squat position, knees bent and arms by sides. Repeat.
Side to Side Burpee
1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Place hands on the floor in front of you and quickly hop your feet back to a plank position with shoulders over wrists and forming a straight light from shoulders to heels.
2. Then immediately jump feet back up toward hands.
4. Explode up, jumping with both feet to the right.
5. Then, jump back to the left with both feet.
6. Repeat with the burpee, adding a side hop at the top each time.
Straddle Leg Lifts
1. Start sitting on a mat, legs extended and out to the sides in a V shape. Place hands on floor in front of you.
2. Press through hands, engage core, and lift right leg off floor, toes pointed slightly outward and lifting through heel. Aim to raise it above hip.
3. Lower it back down, without it touching the floor, and repeat. Then switch sides.
Plank with Water Bottle Transfer
1. Start in a forearm plank position, shoulders over elbows and forming a straight line from head to heels. Place a water bottle between hands, at arm’s length away.
2. Extend right arm and grab the water bottle with right hand. In a semi-circle motion, move water bottle out to the side, so it’s in line with right shoulder.
3. Then, bring the water bottle back between hands.
4. Next, extend left arm and grab the water bottle with left hand and in a semi-circle motion, move out to the side, so it’s in line with left shoulder.
5. Bring the water bottle back between hands and continue alternating.
1. Start standing with feet wider than hip-width apart. Then, jump your feet in together like a jack.
2. Then, jump left foot back and lower down into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees with back knee just hovering off the floor.
3. Next, press through both feet to jump up and bring feet back to wider than hip-width apart.
4. Repeat from the top, this time jumping your right foot back for the lunge. Continue with the jack and jumping lunges, alternating sides.
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