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In high school, my teammates and I would sit on the floor and casually stretch (and chit chat!) after school while we waited for our coach to get there, then would jump into practice right at start time. When I got to college, I was taken aback that we spent the first almost 25 minutes of every single practice warming up, including a mile run.
While a mile run and 15 minutes of warmup might not be the right fit for every cheer team, a thorough warmup sequence is critical to making sure everyone’s bodies are ready to go. Your warmup plays a big role in injury prevention and increasing flexibility.
At the end of this post is a full-length video of my team’s daily warmup and stretch routine, but before that, let’s talk a little about what makes a good cheerleading warmup.
Static stretching versus a dynamic warmup - which is better?
In the fitness world, there has been a big push in recent years away from static stretching to a more dynamic warmup that incorporates movement. They say to save all static stretching until the end of a workout. For the most part, this advice is great. Stretching cold muscles is counterproductive in that it increases the chance of injury, so you should always start with dynamic movements that work through your range of motion and get your blood flowing.
However, in the case of cheerleading, it is still important to do some static stretches before activity. Cheerleading requires much more flexibility than the typical sport or exercise, and I could not imagine doing jumps or pulling body positions without having done any splits ahead of time. Ouch.
This is why I like to incorporate the best of both worlds – dynamic movements to get bodies warmed up, followed by static holds to stretch the full range of motion that is more cheerleading-specific.
Below is a full-body cheerleading warmup & stretch video that you can follow along with. This is very similar to the one that my team uses every day. The video runs a little over 15 minutes as I take time to explain and demonstrate a couple stretches; however, it usually takes us about 10-12 minutes to go through at practice.
(Pro tip: Pump up your warmup by creating a cheer practice playlist to listen to as you stretch! My team uses this portable Bluetooth speaker. It is perfect for indoor and outdoor practices, has color-changing lights, and has wheel for easy transport!)
Here is the order of movements included in this cheerleading warmup sequence:
- Prance with motion review or jog in place
- High knees
- Butt kicks with arm swings
- Arm circles (forward and backward)
- Bunny hops (in place, front to back, side to side)
- Squat – rock side to side
- Wide squat hold (use elbows to push knees wider)
- Standing pike fold
- Drop hips and pike up
- Pike – flex toes and reach
- Pike – point toes and reach
- Hollywood (both sides)
- Straddle – arms up and over (left and right), drop chest (left and right)
- Straddle – middle reach
- Splits sequence (complete on left and right)
- Lunge forward
- Sit back on heel. Flex front toe and fold forward
- Straddle roll throughs
- Middle splits
- High kicks
Once you are done with cheer practice, it is a good idea to spend a few minutes doing a cool down stretch as well. This helps muscles recover faster and promotes better flexibility. Your cool down doesn’t have to be anything complex. Just take a couple moments to stretch the muscles and joints that were used a lot during that practice – quads, shoulders, core, etc. As a coach, I do all of our end of practice reminders and announcements while we do our cool down stretch.
Follow along with the video below and leave a comment to share which stretches you like the most!