in Questions last updated September 2022
Cheerleading is a physically demanding sport requiring kicks, summersaults, and even throwing other people up in the air (or being thrown in the air).
Many women in the world of cheerleading are in great physical shape, simply because of how demanding the sport is. They don’t let just anyone onto the cheer squad and there are usually try-outs to show what you know.
But is there a weight limit for cheerleading?
No, there isn’t technically a weight limit for cheerleading. However, flyers are usually lighter and weigh between 95 and 125 pounds (for adult women). Women over this weight limit are usually at the base of the pyramid, but they still perform all types of jumps, kicks, and summersaults.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the weight restrictions in place for cheerleaders, whether or not you can be a cheerleader if you’re plus-size, and what other physical requirements there are when you become a cheerleader.
Is There a Weight Limit for Cheerleading?
While there is a weight limit for flyers (those are the cheerleaders that get tossed into the air by the rest of the squad), there is no stated weight limit for the average cheerleader. Instead, cheerleaders go through auditions to be on the team and are selected based on things like their spirit and physical ability to do different cheerleading moves.
On most teams at the high school, collegiate, and professional level, flyers are only allowed to weigh a maximum of 125 pounds. This is important because when other people are throwing you up in the air, you have to be light enough that they can confidently catch you without causing injury.
Flyers aside, your physical ability is really what is going to matter when it comes to cheerleading. Cheerleading is an intense sport that requires a lot of stamina and flexibility. There are plus-size cheerleaders, however, you aren’t as likely to see them on the national stage like NBA or NFL games.
Are There Overweight Cheerleaders?
While you might see overweight cheerleaders in high school or college, it’s a lot less likely when it comes to professional cheerleading for sports like the NBA or the NFL. Additionally, when cheerleaders are heavier (think more than 120-125 pounds), they are much more likely to be at the base of a pyramid than one of the cheerleaders flying in the air.
The reason you’re less likely to see overweight professional cheerleaders is because a lot of teams have strict rules about how cheerleaders for the organization can look and dress, some even dictating what cheerleaders do in their personal lives.
For example, there are several NFL teams that are known for having strict rules for members of their cheerleading squad. Some teams pass out handbooks with strict guidelines that even invade women’s personal lives, prohibiting them from doing things like wearing sweatpants in public.
There are even guidelines regarding a woman’s weight. While the Cincinnati Bengals reported to the New York Times that they no longer require weigh-ins, a 2009 handbook from the Baltimore Ravens states that cheerleaders must work to maintain their “ideal weight” to stay on the cheer team.
Are There Plus Size Cheerleaders?
Generally, plus size is a term used to describe women somewhere around size 14-16, though this is something that can vary depending on the clothing line. While it’s possible to
I’m not going to say that it’s 100% impossible to become a cheerleader, especially because I believe all women should be able to do whatever they are most confident doing. This is one of the reasons I’m very pro “wear the bikini” or “wear the crop top“.
Unfortunately, even when you have all the skills necessary to be a great cheerleader, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee acceptance onto some of the more competitive squads. Plus, at the collegiate and professional levels, it’s not uncommon for women to be subjected to body shaming from the coaches, reporters, and even other cheerleaders on the team.
Plus, these women are at the front of the public eye and it’d be a hard job to hold as a plus size women. The NFL has been under fire in recent years and has even faced lawsuits from some cheerleaders, including members of the Houston Texans and Washington Commanders.
That being said, it is possible to be a plus size cheerleader, especially if you are doing competitive cheer or cheering at the high school or collegiate level. One of the more prominent plus size cheerleaders is Tiffany Price, a young woman on TikTok who is an excellent plus size cheerleader. As she says in one of her videos, “Fitness has no body type”.
What Are Some Other Physical Requirements for Cheerleading?
There are people who overlook cheerleading for the sport that it is. In my opinion, it’s every bit as demanding as participating in something like basketball, soccer, or tennis. Not only is it physically demanding, but cheerleaders spend hours and hours practicing both individually and with their squad.
To become a cheerleader, you have to be able to do the choreography along with the rest of the squad. Some important traits are being strong enough to hold your own body weight and flexible enough to do the various jumps, tosses, and twists required for the routine.
For people who are a little bigger, one advantage is that plus size women are usually strong, especially in their legs and thighs. You can train to do those things that you aren’t capable of yet, just like in sports like gymnastics or tennis.
If you have your heart set on joining a cheer squad, something that might be helpful is watching other squad members perform. There are hundreds of different moves used in cheerleading and the ones that are used depend on the squad, their members abilities, and who is coaching them.
You’ll also find doing calisthenics like push ups or pull ups are a great way to start because they help build upper body strength for doing summersaults and cartwheels. Stretching regularly to become more flexible and doing cardio to build up your stamina also helps in this physically demanding sport.
What to Do if You’re Too Big to Be a Cheerleader
Post-school years, there isn’t really a big market for cheerleaders. Sure, there are national sports teams that are hard to get into, but they are notorious for body shaming even thinner, healthier athletes. Not too long ago, a sports columnist came under fire for writing that an NBA cheerleader was too fat (and she absolutely was not anything close to plus size). Here’s a quick Youtube video on it.
For people who want to be professionally involved with cheerleading, teaching dance or cheer is a great option. This is especially true if you’re physically athletic enough to be able to do the moves that you’re teaching. There’s nothing wrong with trying out other types of dance as well. Hip hop dancing suits plus size bodies and their are even plus size pole dancers!
So, is there a weight limit for cheerleading? Unless you are a flyer getting tossed in the air, then no, there isn’t really a set weight limit. That being said, you do still have to audition for the squad and be physically fit enough to perform the various dances and moves that everyone else doing.
Plus, while there are plenty of opportunities for plus size cheerleaders who are around high school or college age, you are a lot less likely to become a professional cheerleader on one of the national teams if you are overweight. They are extremely concerned with standards and it’s a fairly toxic environment for someone with a plus size body type.
Fortunately, there are tons of other ways to share your love of dancing or cheer if you aren’t accepted to a cheerleading team. The different moves also make for a great work out because of how physically demanding the sport is.
Hopefully, this article has cleared up some of your questions!