Coed Stunting; Power and Strength

In case you’re new to reading this blog, I need to fill you in on my background.  I’m a former college cheerleader, with the HEAVY emphasis on the word “former.”  I can’t remember the last time I tumbled, and I have not stunted with any regularity in at least 5 years.

Several weeks ago, a student of mine asked about working on coed stunting.  She is an excellent student.  The kind that you don’t mind going the extra mile for because you know she’s going to try to make the most of the time you give her.  So I really felt inclined to help her out.  The problem is, after 5 years of coaching from the sidelines (and from behind the keyboard), I really didn’t know if I could still stunt well enough to give an effective lesson.

After thinking about it for a long while, I decided to agree to stunt with the student.  Since she has never coed stunted before, I knew we could spend lots of time just working on fundamentals, so it’s not like I’d be holding her back by not quite being able to still base elite stunts.  Also, for me, stunting is really good exercise.  I’ve pretty much kept up with my strength since retiring from cheerleading.  However, in terms of overall athleticism, I’ve let a lot slide.  So I figured the pressure of not wanting to let a student down, not to mention not wanting to embarrass myself, would be good motivation to get me back into stunting shape. 

Stunting is not like static strength training.  Static strength training is basically sitting on a bench or machine and pushing heavy weights around.  You’re trying to concentrate on specific muscles or muscle groups and isolate them with each exercise.  This style of workout CAN be very effective and help you get bigger and stronger.  However, basing coed stunts has more to do with “power” than with “strength.”  Here is the difference between the two.

Strength is what it takes to pick up and hold heavy objects.  Someone who is strong would be well-suited to help you move furniture.  They can lift and carry.  If they pace themselves, they can keep this up all day.  Power is different than this.  Power is explosiveness.  Power is what allows martial artists to break concrete blocks.  It is more related to overall athleticism than to size and sheer strength.  To gain power, you have to train differently than you do for strength.

Stunting actually requires both power and strength.  When you toss (or walk in) they flyer, you are using power.  You have to be explosive and fast.  The more speed you can generate for your flyer at the moment you release her (flick), the higher your toss will go.  Now that she is in the air, strength takes over.  Now you are holding her weight with your upper body.  You are ALSO using your legs, back and core to stabilize and balance.

Please note, the above description is only for basic stunts.  Once you start talking about transitions and dismounts, you go back and forth between strength and power.  No room to write about all of that here so I’ll just let you figure that part out on your own.

So back to poor retired me knowing I was going to be stunting in a few weeks.  I decided to take that time to prepare as much as I could to work on power.  I replaced a few of my regular static workout sessions (traditional weight lifting) with more dynamic workouts.  I picked exercises that used multiple muscle groups.  Also, the movements were explosive rather than slow and controlled.  I also tried to focus on exercises that somewhat simulated the movements involved in basing coed stunts.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Jumping Jacks.  These were mostly used to warm up and to keep my heart rate up between more strenuous exercises. 
  • Bounding Push-ups.  For these, I was actually pushing hard enough that my hands came off the ground.  Using good form also works the core.
  • Sit-ups.  Nothing special here, but you have to work your core to stabilization and to avoid injury.
  • Clean and Jerk.  Dangling relatively heavy weights at my side and rapidly lifting them up to about eye level, controlling them down to should level, and then returning them to the start position.  This sort of simulates your toss.
  • Plyometric Jump.  This is just jumping in the air as hard as you can.  You can jump onto a platform if you like, but I just jumped in place.
  • Flutter kicks.  Lay on your back, lift your feet a couple of inches off the ground and perform shallow switch kicks as if you are swimming.  Another core exercise.
  • Back Raises.  Laying on your stomach, lift your feet and your chest off the ground at the same time.  This works your lower back and is good for stability and injury prevention.
  • Modified Lat Row.  For this, I held a 45-pound plate.  I positioned my hands at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions (like on a steering wheel).  This is similar to the grip you would have on a flyer’s waist.  Dipping with the legs, you lift the weight as forcefully as you can as high as you can.  Keep the weight close to you, almost dragging it up your body.  If you generate enough speed, the weight will almost come out of your hands at the top.  I think this is a great simulation of a toss.
  • Squats.  Just a static strength exercise, but a good one.
  • Shoulder rows.  I just used light weights and lifted them straight out, circled my arms out to the sides and then returns them back down to a hanging position in front.
  • Lower Back Rows.  I held a 45 pound plate to my chest, bent my knees slightly, leaned forward at my waist and then returned to upright.
  • Tricep extensions.  A basic static exercise.  I used a 45 pound plate instead of dumb bells or a bar to work on grip strength too.
  • Calf Raises.  Another basic strength exercise.
  • Bicep Curls.  Just because.  Not really stunt oriented.

And that is it.  It took about 12 minutes to get through all of the exercises.  That made one circuit.  I did 3 circuits in total.  The first time I did this, I was careful and used moderate intensity.  I increased the intensity a little each time.  This became a great aerobic workout by making it more intense and taking fewer and shorter breaks.

Anyway, after about 3 weeks, it was time to stunt.  I’m happy to say that I survived, and the student and I both felt that the session was successful.  The morning after, I was a little sore, but not especially so.  I have one knee that gives me trouble from time to time, and it was sore, but that is nothing new.  So I guess my preparations helped.  I plan to keep using this workout and to keep stunting once a week.  I’ll write again about it I have any significant observations or make any changes.

For one final note I just want to comment that coed stunting is a really great workout.  You are training all of the major muscle groups, as well as lots of smaller muscles that you do not use much a regular basis.  Always be careful when you stunt.  Nothing messes up your training like an injury.  But if you take your time and follow basic safety guidelines, stunting can really help you (even if you’re an old, retired cheerleader) get into your best shape.

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10 Comments on “Coed Stunting; Power and Strength”

  1. Beth Says:

    Great to see you posting again! I always love reading your blog. Any more thoughts or tips for flying dual base or group stunt would be awesome 🙂

  2. Hilton Says:

    Hi, I’ve just discovered your blog and it’s a great resource. I’m from Ireland and coach the equivilent of All Star Cheerleading which is growing significantly in this country. We’ve just started an adult squad and none of them have any experience so it’s all from the ground up! Anyway, I’m starting to lift coed stunts and was wondering if you had anything further to add to your conditioning routine? Did you change it in any way or was it sufficient as it was?
    Any advice you could give would be great.


    • Hey! Thanks for the positive feedback. It’s really cool to hear from you, especially coming all the way from Ireland! I’m glad you are finding the blog useful. As for the conditioning, I’m finding that it is working pretty well for right now. I would also recommend anything you can do to build leg strength. Dead lifts and squats are probably the best weight training you can do to increase your toss. If you are new to coed stunting, I’d suggest working on some double-base coed stunting techniques. One of the most common is the J-Up. In fact, I’ll probably write an article on that topic, since other people might also find it helpful.

      Good luck with your cheerleading teams. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance. Incidentally, I have occasionally traveled to England to work with coaches and teams. I could probably swing by Ireland on my next trip, if you were interested. In the mean time, stay safe and have fun.

      • Hilton Says:

        Hi again! Wondering if you’re planning on swinging by the UK and Ireland anytime soon??? If so – send me on some details to my email address! Thanks, Hilton, PS would love to see some more regular posts, have found this to be an incredibly insightful and helpful blog in the past!


      • Thank you for the encouragement. I wish I had the time to post more regularly. My family has recently expanded with a newborn and we are adding another in September, so I have been very busy. That will also probably keep me from traveling for a little while, so I’m afraid I won’t likely be back in the UK this year. If that changes, I’ll shoot you an email. I would love you get back. I found the students and the coaches in the UK cheerleading community to be some of the most enthusiastic and eager that I have ever worked with!

  3. Sara Says:

    Hey, I just found your site and I just love it! I found your post on standing tucks and I was surprised that its actually just a simple technique. I am learning martial arts but we had a year break and had not been keeping up with my previous fitness level. And when classes resume, we’re going to learn more tricks so it sort of scares me.I’d like to try out the exercises in this post, I think it would help me a lot.

    Btw I did cartwheels since I was 7. When you say that carthweels is actually harder than standing tuck, it really made me feel hopeful since I would love to try it. But I’m too scared of breaking my neck 😛

    I think I’ll come up regularly here. Your blog seems really interesting. Keep it up!

  4. Javi Says:

    Excellent post. I believe all of your exerciser will effectively build power and speed for coed bases. I will certainly try them myself and share your blog with all my teammates.

  5. Hunter Says:

    thank you soo much for posting this. I am a male high school cheerleader. im about to go into my senior year. I love to coed stunt, and me and my flyer have been stunting together for a full year now. we can do a few things but not as much as I would like. we have been trying for a while to get a toss hands. We have stuck it a few times but then we lose it. It seems like we can do it sometimes but not all the time. this has really made me feel like its my fault that the stunts aren’t hitting, and the only thing I can think of is my strength. we have gone to two different UCA summer cheer camps, and worked on it. this year we stuck a toss hands three times in a row. and then couldn’t get it again. I have been looking for some time now for some workouts that I could do to become stronger and to give me more power. I have the strength to do hands, but I seem to struggle with the power of the toss. anyways. thank you for giving me some help.

  6. lincy Says:

    LOVE THIS BLOG!
    the mental block advice was really helpful


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