Muscles to Strengthen to Do a Cartwheel

Cartwheeling Young Woman

Cartwheels take a lot of skill, and if you don't have enough strength, you won't have the power to balance your body through it. A cartwheel may look simple, but it actually uses several different major muscle groups in your body. You need power and strength in these muscles to carry momentum through the full execution of a cartwheel.

It's All About the Arms

If the muscles in your arms aren't strong enough, you won't be able to support your body weight during a cartwheel. In particular, this refers to the biceps and triceps muscles in your upper arms, as well as your wrist flexor muscles. The biceps sit at front on your upper arms, the triceps at back. Dumbbell and barbell curls, dumbbell kickbacks and dumbbell wrist curls will help strengthen these muscles.

Strength in the Shoulders

The deltoid muscle is a large, triangular-shaped muscle in the shoulder that spans from underneath the collarbone to just above the bicep muscle in the upper arm. The deltoid muscles are heavily relied on during a cartwheel, particularly during the middle of the execution, when you're upside down, balancing your weight in your arms to keep yourself upright vertically. Work your deltoids with exercises such as the neck press and Arnold press to build strength.

You Need More Core

Without strong core muscles, your body lacks in balance and coordination. Your abdominal muscles primarily make up your core, so it's important to strengthen these muscles for a properly executed cartwheel. The abdomen is made up of the rectus abdominis paired muscle, the obliques at the sides and the transverse abdominis muscles. Crunches and side bends are effective at helping build a strong core.

The Role of the Legs

Although your upper body is relied on more during a cartwheel, you also need strength in your legs to push yourself off the ground and position yourself upside down on your hands. The main muscle groups in the legs are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the thighs, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves. Squats, lunges and step-ups are effective strength-building exercises, working all these muscle groups at the same time.

Stretching Is Significant

To do a cartwheel, you need flexibility and coordination, and regular stretching can help with this. Even just five to 10 minutes of stretching a day a few times a week helps relieve muscle stiffness and soreness, and increases your flexibility and balance. Always hold a stretch until you feel a light tension in the targeted muscle. You should never feel any sharp pain or discomfort.