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

Getting Our Cheer Athletes Back In Shape . . . The Safe Way!
By Morton Bergue,

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 in 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.
Exercise Challenge Result
Jogging in place Do it for 2:30 minutes How winded are they?
Push Ups How many can be done in 30
How many did they do?
Plank Hold Do it for 30 seconds Were they able to hold it
steady the entire time?
Full Sit Ups How many can be done in 30
How many did they do?
Splits Hold each side for 30 seconds How close are they to
doing perfect splits?
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:
a. The warm-up is not a workout. Just make sure you get a good sweat going.
b. Start with easy cardio to get the blood going.
c. Focus first on major muscle groups.
d. Then move onto smaller muscle groups and tendons.
e. Pay special attention to wrists, ankles, necks and backs.
f. Leave major stretching to your flexibility workout.
g. 7 – 10 minutes is fine for a proper warm-up.
4. Create strength workout program. From your results, now put together a strength
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
a. 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
b. 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
c. 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.
d. 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
e. Create a couple different workouts that you can switch out from month to
month. This will not only create some muscle confusion which is good for the
building f healthy muscles, 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 apply with 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.
a. Make it something they can do in the small space of their rooms.
b. Don’t make it more than a 15 min workout so they will do it (but encourage
them to do more).
c. 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.
d. 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 a 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!!

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