How are we all? 🙂 Today, I’d like to share things that I do to improve my jumps. This is yet, another cheerleading post, but the things listed can be used in non-cheer training.
Please note, this is not a post about jump techniques, it is about jump conditioning– this is about improving flex, strength and coordination.
There is a misconception that jumping only involved the legs. In fact, jumping is a whole body workout. Yes, you use your legs to power the jump; you also use your arms to direct your jump; you use your stabiliser muscles to keep your body rigid, preventing twisting to get maximum height and your head keeps everything in check.
Also, in cheer, there is an emphasis on motions. Strong arms = strong motion = higher score.
Jumps has always been an element that I’ve enjoyed doing and have been reasonably good at. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any conditioning to continuously improve them. Below, are some things that I have found useful. The exercises I have listed uses body weight. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful.
Stretch + Splits-
Flexibility is essential to get amazing extensions in jumps. So, stretch, everyday, whist watch TV is usually quite an enjoyment. Make sure you are warm before you start stretching. Ensure that you work on both legs, not just the ‘good’ leg. Flexibility does not improve overnight, you will need to keep at it. Great excuse to watch the latest episodes of Revenge, Warehouse 13, etc….
The point is to get the power for the height. Things to look for. Bending knees to initiate the jump- this is where your power comes from; swinging arms and extending it by your ears- directs your jump upwards; extending your legs and pointing your toes- tenses body allowing power to have one ‘output’. if you are ‘loose’ you won’t get the height as energy has been dispersed in multiple directions.
Do the straight and lateral ones. I recommend putting your hands behind your head and ensuring you are looking forward. Ensure that your the step you take is wide enough that the ankle and knee of your front leg align when you lunge. Do lower your back knee till it is half an inch off the ground. Once you are comfortable doing them forward (as in stepping forward), try going backwards!
Front and side kicks-
Front kicks, hold arms out straight in front of you. When you kick your leg, make sure both legs are straight. With arms out, keep the upper body as still as possible, do not cave forward to ‘aid’ the leg up. Make sure you point your toes!
Side kicks- Arms out to the side at shoulder height, slightly in front of your body, kick leg up behind hands. Again, make sure legs are straight and the upper body is as still as possible. Again, point your toes.
Position yourself on the floor, ensure that your spine is lengthened and there is minimal arch in your lower back. gaze towards your belly button (chin to chest) lift both legs off the ground to just before 90 degrees. Lower your legs down, do not touch the ground, just hover. Stopping a couple of inches above the ground and just before 90 degrees ensures that your abdominals are engaged at all times. You can try different varieties- pointed feet, legs turned out, alternating…
One of my favourites! Start in Dish- laying on your back arms by your ears and legs long with pointed toes, arms and legs are off the ground. The parts that are touching the ground are between your shoulder blades and your bottom. You should resemble a dish. From here, as fast as you can, draw your legs into your chest and your arms into a ball/ tuck position. It is important that you draw your legs in first- this helps to protect your back and initiate your lower abs to work.
Plank and t-stabilisers–
Start with a plank hold/ push up position, ensure that your body is in line- hips not drawn up or sagging towards the floor. Stay in plank for 10-15 secs before lifting the right arm, lifting it and rotating your body to point fingers of your right hand towards the ceiling. Hold it for 10-15sec before bringing it back to plank and repeating on the other side.
Good old crunches. You can do the standard fare or use a decline bench, with a weight or a combination of both. (I know, I did say body weight…. :))
Set up as you would for crunches, chin to chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. crunch sidewards to tap your heel with your hand, alternating sides as you go.
Sharp motions! Stand clean and whip your arms to hit a motion (not get there, HIT) once you are confident that you are HITING it, add a wide squat (i.e. clean arms and legs. Low V with squat. Clean. T with squat. Clean. High V with squat. Clean. Repeat) challenge yourself and go faster whilst staying sharp. Even if you’re not a cheerleader, this will certainly be a good one to do.
A great way to train speed and coordination! There are various ways to do this, I like to start standing upright, touch the ground with your hands and kick your legs out doing a controlled body flop. Push up and bring your legs back in under you and explode up, bringing arms by your ears or clapping your hands above your head. Try the one-legged variety too!
Using some of the exercises in the post, I may chose to do the following:
Using HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Set your timer for 18-24 rounds of [45 sec with 10 sec rest]- I use an interval timer app from Gymboss available on the iStore.
- Straight Jumps
- Dish Tucks
- Side kicks
- Front Kicks
- Plank hold
Go for 3-4 rounds (total of 18 or 24 rounds) Mix and match the exercises, you can try modifying them too!
The intensity of the workout is up to you, all I can say is…Train Insane or Remain the Same!
I’m not an expert, please consult your doctor/personal trainer/other professionals if you are inspired to get moving and JUMP!