Westside for Cheer

After chatting with a few guys on the cheer squad here at Eastern Kentucky University, I realized they would never follow a consistent training plan that is organized around percentages from me. With this knowledge I decided to go back to a Westside barbell training framework and modify it for the sport of cheerleading. Now this is by no means endorsed by Louie and his crew, but this program is heavily inspired by their principles and what I have observed there on the times I was able to visit. This is a challenging program in the sense of attacking heavy weights and changing up stimuli frequently. The goal is to take 3 days between lower body training sessions and the same is true of the upper body training sessions never training both sides of the body on the same day. If the athletes want to get in an extra session of lifting during the week, I suggest just doing assistance work specifically isolation movements. So without further ado, here is the basic set up of each training day along with how each movement is programmed.

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More programming for cheerleading.

Max effort upper

ME movement (pick one): close grip bench press, incline bench press, close grip incline bench press, steep incline bench press (also with a close grip as another option), push press, military press, dumbbell military press (double the rep goals for this also seated or standing), push jerk (maybe)

Programming for it: goal is to build up to a maximal set of 5 reps week 1, a maximal set of 3 reps on week 2, and then to beat your previous 3RM on week 3, on week 4 move on to the next movement. Take lots of warm up sets, always start with the empty bar and then add no more than 50lbs (try to add 5-10% of your max to the bar each set) from one set to the next and each warm up set is for 5 reps once you get above 50% of what you think your maximum is. When below 50% feel free to do sets of 10 reps and with the empty bar do one or two sets of more than 10 reps.

Supplemental – DB rows. 4-5 sets of ten or more reps, do as many reps as you can on the last set

Supplemental – high rep DB snatch. 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each hand without setting the dumbbell down to rest and focus on using your back and hips to move this along.

Accessory – triceps. Rotate between skull crushers, French press, Tate presses (elbows out extensions) for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory – DB laterals. 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps.

Prehab – face pulls. 5 sets of 15-20 reps, be sure to use a controlled lifting cadence.

Max effort lower

ME movement: back squat (high bar or low bar), front squat, safety bar back squat, trap bar deadlift, straight bar deadlift, or sumo deadlift. All squats can be done to various box heights for more variation. Aim to set the box at parallel or below parallel

Programming for it: goal is to build up to a maximal set of 5 week 1, a maximal set of 3 week 2, and then to beat your previous 3RM on week 3, on week 4 move on to the next movement. Take lots of warm up sets, always start with the empty bar and then add no more than 50lbs. from one set to the next and each warm up set is for 5 reps once you get above 50% of what you think your maximum is. When below 50% feel free to do sets of 10 reps and with the empty bar do one or two sets of more than 10 reps.

Supplemental – back extensions or reverse hyper. 4-5 sets of 10-20 repetitions, use a controlled range of motion and hold the lockout for a second

Supplemental – belt squats or single leg bench squats. 3-5 sets of 12-20 repetitions (each leg if relevant) try and increase these loads each week if possible.

Accessory movement – side bends. 3-5 sets of 10-20 repetitions each side, be sure to do this controlled and through a full range of motion.

Accessory movement – hanging leg raises. 3-5 sets of 10-20 repetitions, be sure to do this controlled and through a full range of motion.

Dynamic effort lower

De movement: safety bar back squat or front squat (can use a parallel or slightly below parallel box for this)

Programming for it: your goal here is to warm up (taking the same smaller jumps from the ME warm ups) and then get to what you believe is 60% of your max for week one and perform 10 sets of 2 repetitions. Perform each set on the minute. Week 2 do this with 65%, week 3 do this with 70%, and week 4 do this with 50% then bump up your training max a bit on this or change from straight weight to using band or chain resistance for the next month. When we say dynamic effort this means that your speed on the concentric (lifting the weight) is as fast and as explosive as you can muster. You want to control the weight down and even do a slight pause in the bottom and then explode all the way up to lockout. This is why the reps for each set is so low, so that you can put maximal power in to each rep.

Supplemental movement – Bulgarian split squats – use dumbbells or a barbell 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. Use a full range of motion and if you don’t have anything comfortable to put your foot on switch this out for walking lunges or reverse lunges

Supplemental movement – glute ham raise. 4-5 sets of 6-12 reps. Add in external resistance by holding a medicine ball to your chest.

Accessory movement – ab wheel or fallouts. 4-5 sets of 8-20 reps. Try to use the biggest range of motion that you can and crunch through your abs while you do this.

Accessory movement – sled dragging, heavy (holding a medball overhead with two hands or just one hand while doing this). Do 6 trips of at least 40 yards and feel free to build up the distance a little bit each week (add in 5 more yards).

Dynamic effort upper

De movement: close grip incline bench press or military press

Programming for it: your goal here is to warm up (taking the same smaller jumps from the ME warm ups) and then get to what you believe is 60% of your max for week one and perform 8 sets of 3 repetitions. Perform each set on the minute. Week 2 do this with 65%, week 3 do this with 70%, and week 4 do this with 50% then bump up your training max a bit on this or change from straight weight to using band or chain resistance for the next month. When we say dynamic effort this means that your speed on the concentric (lifting the weight) is as fast and as explosive as you can muster. You want to control the weight down and even do a slight pause in the bottom and then explode all the way up to lockout. This is why the reps for each set is so low, so that you can put maximal power in to each rep.

Supplemental movement – overhead lockouts up to a 5RM, rotate these between doing them seated and standing. Also change up the range of motion you are using on this. Do at least 3 heavy sets on this.

Supplemental movement – pike push-ups or handstand push-ups. 3-5 sets of as many repetitions as you can do. Take a few minutes rest between each set. Each week try to add 2 reps to your total from all of the sets.

Accessory – Pull ups. Change the grips each set and week one, do as many reps as you can over 4 sets, after week one add 2 to the total reps performed the week before.

Accessory – Javorek complexes. Do three sets of six repetitions of each of the following exercises in a series without setting the weight down: snatch, upright row, squat to press, lunges, Romanian deadlift, db rows, and snatch. For the first month do this with a barbell and for the second month do this dumbbells and rotate back and forth. These are brutal.

Prehab – band pull-a-parts. 100 total reps divided over at least 5 sets, if you can do it in less sets use a heavier band or use a slower cadence on the exercise.

General notes

On each exercise use the largest range of motion that you can handle. Be sure to use the best technique that you can and stop sets when you hit technical failure, not necessarily true failure. Each week aim to improve on each movement in at least one way; another rep, a heavier weight, less rest time between each set, or a larger range of motion. Keep track of your training program and don’t be afraid to take a deload (light week) every 4-8 weeks. For the box squats never just plop on to the box, control your sit down and explode up from the hole each time. Be sure to take the time to warm up and cool down from each training session. There is nothing wrong with taking longer to warm up be it through other exercises or through extra light sets.

Summary

So here is my basic Westside training inspired cheerleading program (really it is for bases). Give it a shot if you are interested and let me know what you think about it. I trained in a conjugate style for years and enjoyed the variety along with performance gains that I achieved from doing it. A final positive effect I had from training this style is it taught me to be aggressive and attack weights which that mentality is useful for more than just barbell lifting. Thanks as always for reading and if you have any questions please just leave a comment below.

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