Circuit training is a great way for cheerleaders to improve coordination and build strength and endurance simultaneously. As cheerleaders, we know that all three are important in the development of our overall performance. Other benefits of circuit training include improvement in balance and flexibility leading to a reduced risk of injury, body fat reduction, and overall health improvement. Here's how it works and how to get started!
The format for circuit training is the grouping of exercises (6-10) that are performed one exercise after another. Each exercise can be performed for a specific number of repetitions or for a certain time period before moving on to the next exercise. Each exercise is separated by a brief, times rest period of 30-40 seconds and each circuit is separated by a longer rest period of 1-2 minutes. The number of circuits performed during a training session will vary from two to six depending on your squad's training level and specific goals. To prepare the muscles for work, it is very important to begin your circuit training by warming up with fast walking or light jogging and stretching.
- Identify the circuit exercises that can be performed by your squad to enhance the specific goals you have set. To get a total body workout, be sure to include upper and lower body exercises in your circuit training routine.
- Identify on paper the order in which your exercises will be performed, making sure that no two consecutive exercises use the same muscle group, e.g. do not have push-ups followed by bench dips because the tricep muscles will get overworked.
- Set up your circuit stations in your practice area using index cards or equipment to identify what exercise is to be performed at that particular station.
- Before beginning any circuit, review with your squad all the exercises, making sure that everyone can demonstrate the proper form while executing the exercise.
- Play upbeat music during your circuit training to help your squad enjoy their workout and assist you in timing the individual exercises, as in "musical chairs."
- Everyone is different! Encourage your athletes to work at their own individual level.
- Be sport specific. Concentrate on ranges of movements and muscle groups that your squad is most likely to use in practices, games, and competitions.
- Set goals, start slowly, and build to your circuit program.
- Warm-up and do light stretching before beginning your routine.
- Strive for balance with "upper" and "lower" body exercises.