T Nation

Cheerleader Athletic Training


Hey coach,
I was wondering if you have ever trained any cheerleaders, specifically flyers (the girls that get thrown around all the time)? A friend asked me to write a program to make her more athletic and I was hoping you might have some experience.

From what I can tell of her requirements, she needs power-endurance (the routines are a couple of minutes long and require a lot of jumping, cartwheels, etc.), jumping power and core stability. Right now she trains every day, mostly crosstrainer and some core exercises on a Swiss ball plus some leg stuff (waiting for details from her on that) and flexibility, plus 3-4 cheerleading sessions and a 1h30 run, plus some sprints.

I'm going to ask her to drop the 1h30 run, or replace it with 20 minutes of sled work or hill sprints, and switch her gym training to something along these lines, to be done 4-5 days a week:
(Not sure about the structure of ring work yet, but mostly holds. As for flexibility, I know nothing about it, so I'll just tell her to keep doing what she's doing)

1) Ramp to 3RM
2) 10-15 sets of 2 with 85-90% of 3RM every 30s
3) Ring work and jumps

Overhead work
1) Ramp push press to 3RM
2) Complex, 5 rounds, 15s between stations, 60s between rounds:
2.1 Overhead press from pins above forehead x3
2.2 Push press, 2s hold on top x3 (90% of 3RM)
2.3 Behind the neck snatch grip drop jerk x3 (60% of 3RM push press) (dropping down to power position)
3) Ring work and jumps

Trap bar deadlifts
1) Ramp TBDL to 3RM
2) Superset, as many QUALITY sets in 10 minutes as possible, 15s rest between two exercises within the set
2.1 Explosive TBDL x3 (60% 3RM), ideally dropping the weight)
2.2 Low box jump landing in power position x1-3 (only do high quality reps)
3) Ring work (NO jumps)

I'm trying to keep the volume low and focus on dense power work. Her biggest fear is putting on mass, which is actually surprisingly easy for her to do, at least in her legs.

I'd really appreciate it if you have any thoughts on this.



Not cheerleaders per se, but I'm training one circus girl who is a flyer (trapezius numbers mostly).

A very strong core is important. Both static (plank variations, abs wheel rollouts and dynamic (strict toes-to-bar, strict knees-to-elbows, Garhammer raises, GHR rull range abs) and integrated (i.e. abs working during whole body movements like kipping pull-ups, kipping toes-to-bar). Take note that a TRUE kipping pull-up is not a jerky, Parkinson pull-up, it is actually a high skill whole body movement like the olympic lifts.

Then you have the olympic lifts that are important, I use the power snatch and power clean (mostly from the hang).

To build strength with them I like the overhead squat, push press and pull-ups (ring or bar). I wouldn't use the overhead squat with a lot of athletes but for them it is the best option.


Thanks, CT! This helps a lot.


Sounds like older girls, so this may not be helpful, but my 7 yo daughter is a flyer on a competition cheer team. I posted a couple of weeks ago on CTs forum about "kids lifting" and he gave me some good advice on there. You may want to check that out too.


Thank you, I'll check it out.



I lived with 3 fliers for a year at CU. They trained much like CT just described, with the emphasis on olympic lift variations (CT and Doc would probably get along). Keep an eye out for eating disorders.


Definitely going to increase OL variations compared to the split I posted above, as well as ab work. Might switch to a 4 or 5 day split as well. I'll write down a couple of variations tomorrow and see what makes the most sense.

I'm really curious how she eats, given that her overall workload is pretty significant. Going to have to ask her that, among other things.