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Stunting in cheerleading requires upper-body strength and muscular endurance.
Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images
While dancing and cheerleading share many of the same elements, each works your body in different ways and requires the use of varying muscle groups. Cheerleading includes components of dance as well as stunting and tumbling. Dancing can be fast or slow-paced, depending on the style. Both can be intense forms of exercise that require full-body fitness.
Go, Fight, Win!
Cheer routines typically include a combination of cheering, dancing, stunting, tumbling and jumps. Each of these elements are forms of exercise that work your body differently by combining both endurance and strength training. The chanting and dance elements of cheerleading are aerobic exercises. Dance requires you to move your body for an extended period of time, while chanting combines movement with vocalizing, all of which requires cardiovascular endurance. Stunting is primarily an upper-body exercise for those who are lifting, but you also use your legs to lift. Tumbling exercises your legs, arms and abs as you coordinate these muscle groups to jump, flip and land gracefully. Cheerleading also includes jumps like the toe touch, X jump, herkie, pike, hurdler, tuck and around the world. These moves exercise your legs and provide a cardiovascular workout when they are done in sequence.
One, Two, Cha-Cha-Cha
Dance is an aerobic exercise with less strength training elements than cheerleading. When you dance, you are constantly moving, which improves cardiovascular endurance. Dance also requires you to coordinate your arms, legs and torso to move rhythmically and to a beat. Other benefits of using dance as exercise include increased muscular strength, better balance and agility, more flexibility and stronger bones. Different forms of dance can enhance these benefits. For example, ballet builds more leg strength with leaps while the fast-paced nature of cha-cha dancing builds more stamina.
Turn Up the Intensity
When it comes to determining how much any form of exercise works your body, it all depends on intensity. Regardless of the form of exercise, the harder you work, the more calories you will burn and the more muscle strength you will develop. Therefore, cheer routines that include fast-paced cheers and dancing as well as lots of stunts, jumps and tumbling will serve as better exercise than a slower, simpler routine or slow-paced dancing. Similarly, dancing that is fast-paced with more intense moves that is done for an extended amount of time will provide a better workout than a shorter, easier dance session or a simple cheer routine. The key to making either activity a better workout is to work harder while doing it.
Go for Your Goals
Since both dance and cheer can provide a great workout, you need to assess your goals, skill level and any injuries you have when deciding which activity is right for you. If you are trying to incorporate more strength training in your exercise routine, cheerleading may have more elements, like stunting and jumps, which help you build stronger muscles. If you are trying to gain cardiovascular endurance and stamina, dancing for a longer duration of time may help you better reach your goals. Beginners may find certain elements of cheerleading to be more difficult, such as tumbling and stunting, so you may want to start out with basic cheer routines or simple dancing styles. Also, evaluate any injuries you have that could interfere with your ability to do certain dance or cheer moves so you can adapt your workout accordingly. Always consult your physician before starting any new exercise routine.