Gabi Butler's Trainer Reveals the Workouts She's Crushing When She's Not Cheerleading
Hint: Her training is anything but boring.
Netflix's docuseries, Cheer put an end to any doubts people might have had about cheerleading being a sport. The young athletes of Navarro College's 14-time National Championship cheerleading program proved their commitment and dedication by relentlessly practicing for hours and giving it their all during competitions.
But their work doesn't stop when cheer season is over—and cheerlebrity, Gabi Butler is proof of that.
Earlier this week, Butler's trainer, Marc Bowron, a certified strength and conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S.) and founder of MD Athletix, shared several Instagram Story videos of Butler crushing an outdoor workout at Johnny Os Gymnasium in Boca Raton.
Not impressed yet? In another post on Bowron's Instagram, you can see Butler doing several more complex and challenging exercises, including hand-over-hand plate pulls with a rope, Spider-Man dumbbell crawls, and backward sled pushes that had her dripping in sweat. (Related: Kate Upton Is So Committed to Her Workouts, Her Trainer Says She's Officially a Meathead)
The intensity of Butler's workouts isn't without purpose. "Competitive cheerleading puts a lot of stress on the body," Bowron tells Shape. "That's why I structure Gabi's workouts to target key principles such as strength, power, and endurance." (Related: How to Create Your Own Muscle-Building Workout Plan)
Depending on her cheerleading schedule, Bowron works with Butler two or three times a week, he says. "But even when she has a conflict, she'll always try to re-schedule," he adds. "She's so committed to becoming stronger and better and it shows every week." (Related: How to *Really* Commit to Your Fitness Routine)
Each workout session is typically an hour, including a mix of indoor and outdoor workouts, shares Bowron (in Florida, the sun really puts your training to the test, he adds).
Regardless of location, though, each workout primarily focuses on those same three principles: endurance, strength, and power. "My job is to challenge Gabi's body and ability so that she can improve in all of these areas," he explains. "All the exercises we do can help translate into cheer-specific movements and training." (Related: What's the Difference Between Muscular Endurance and Muscular Strength?)
Endurance workouts, for instance, include exercises like thrusters, walking lunges, sprints, and burpee broad jumps—all of which build stamina, which is essential for cheerleading, says Bowron. "The goal is to keep the heart rate high for a prolonged period of time to help increase cardiovascular endurance," he explains.
Strength days, on the other hand, are usually upper or lower body-specific, says Bowron. By focusing on one muscle group, Butler can exhaust those muscles to the max while giving her other muscle groups the rest they need to recover, he explains. (Related: When It's OK to Work the Same Muscles Back to Back)
Power workouts, on the other hand—which include exercises like deadlifts, medicine ball slams, and plyo jumps—are meant to help improve Butler's ability to execute explosive, yet controlled movements, says the trainer.
There are times, however, when Bowron meshes these principles together, as seen in Butler's workout videos above. For instance, Spider-Man dumbbell crawls are a multi-joint movement that challenges both strength and endurance, the trainer shares. Tire flips to plyo jumps combine strength and power, while ball slams to lateral shuffles put endurance, strength, and power to the test.
Another key part of Butler's fitness routine: She never does the same exact workout twice—which both challenges and engages her, says Bowron. "It's important for everyone to enjoy their workouts, be creative, and have fun with it with a specific purpose in mind," he explains. "Too much structure can lead to boredom and loss of enjoyment. Working out, regardless of your level, should be an A time." (Related: Is It Bad to Do the Same Workout Every Day?)
Butler's work ethic and positive attitude make all the difference too, adds Bowron. "Gabi is a fantastic athlete to work with. During the exercises, she is focused and locked in, and during her rest or after the session, she is always laughing and having fun with me or others around her," he shares. "Her energy is always extremely high, positive, and she's always committed to doing better at each session."