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Getting Our Cheer Athletes Back In Shape...The Safe Way!

Posted on 7/22/2020
With cheer gyms slowly being able to open back up, everyone is in a rush to get practicing and pushing to get their athletes back in shape. Unfortunately, even with gyms using virtual classes and programs to keep their athletes interested and in shape, their athletes are not in the same shape they were before the gyms had to close before the pandemic. Gym owners and coaches need to be a little careful about how hard they train their athletes, so injury is not something they need to worry about.

1. Do your homework. Coaches tend to fall into the same ole system of exercise they have done for years. Though that is fine, there is so much more information online, with new and fun ways to warm up, do cardio, condition, and get flexible. Change it up. Find some new ways to do things and get your athletes excited to workout. 

2. Do a health assessment. Create a test that will let you know where your athletes are in terms of being in shape. It can be as simple as making a list of exercises and timing them or counting how many of each exercise they can do.


Example: 



By doing this assessment you now can create a workout plan that is in line with the shape they are in.


3. Get your warm-up set and ready. It will be very important to have a set warm-up for your athletes. They haven’t been doing as much as you think during this break. Their muscles and tendons will need some special attention right now, so a proper warm-up is a must. By having a set warm-up you control what they do and how they do it. You also get them ready safely for the workout they will soon do. Things to remember:

  • The warm-up is not a workout. Just make sure you get a good sweat going. 
  • Start with easy cardio to get the blood going.
  • Focus first on major muscle groups.
  • Then move onto smaller muscle groups and tendons.
  • Pay special attention to wrists, ankles, necks and backs.
  • Leave major stretching to your flexibility workout. 
  • 7 – 10 minutes is fine for a proper warm-up.

4. Create a strength workout program. From your results, now put together a strength a workout program that starts them off challenging where they are right now, not where you think they should be. Obviously, each athlete will be at a different level, so make it something where each athlete can shine in their own way. Putting together a workout where each athlete is challenged to do as many reps or holds as they can in a certain amount of time will allow each athlete to go at their own pace. It will also create a competitive atmosphere within themselves to do better each time. Some things to remember: 

  • Make sure you chose exercises that are total body inclusive. Biceps, triceps, chest, back, abs, rear, quads, calves, cardio, and core all need to be touched upon.
  • There is no need to exceed 30-second increments in your strength workout except for your core work and your cardio. You may want to do 3 sets of biceps in 30-second increments, for example, but the old “Do-it-till-you-hurt” is not necessary.
  • The technique in doing the exercises is way more important than how many they do. Yes, the challenge is to do more, but you must make sure they are doing the exercises correctly. Not only for proper strength but to lessen the possibility of injury. Get very picky and don’t let the athletes cheat.
  • Do your best to keep the strength workout to 30 – 45 min maximum. Again, you don’t need to overdo it. Consistency, by doing it regularly each week is far more effective.
  • Create a couple of different workouts that you can switch out from month to month. This will not only create some muscle confusion which is good for building healthy muscles, but it will also keep it fresh for your athletes.

5. Create a flexibility workout program. Every athlete needs to be as flexible as they are strong. It’s this flexibility that helps each athlete free from injury. The “a-e” of your strength workout above also applies to your flexibility workout. Remember flexibility is not only able to do splits, its shoulders, backs, sides, and abs as well as those legs. 


6. Give them health homework. The best thing that did come out of this global pandemic is the fact that athletes can workout at home. They now see they can do it, so take advantage of that. Give them strength and flexibility homework for home.

  • Make it something they can do in the small space of their rooms.
  • Don't make it more than a 15 min workout so they will do it (but encourage them to do more)
  • Include some kind of healthy eating aspect. Like, challenge them not to drink soda drinks for a month or no fast food for a month.
  • Add a video or virtual aspect to it that will keep the athlete motivated to do it. It can be as easy as posting a video on a private website for the team and coaches or creating an online class time for the team to do it all together.

7. Create a way to show progress. This can be charts or journals, anything that the athletes can see their progress. Pick points in which a reward can be given. The rewards can be as easy a small gift card or a gold star. You can even put them into teams and have their individual progress count toward overall goals. This is really important because most athletes are competitive and need that kind of carrot to reach for. 


You will find that this is a great start for your athletes’ road to recovery from this crazy break. You may also find that your athletes will actually become stronger than they were before from this kind of deliberate workout regimen. Happy exercising!!