How to do an Aerial Cartwheel

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How to do an aerial cartwheel


An easy way to describe an aerial cartwheel would be a cartwheel with no hands. However, when you go to learn how to do an aerial cartwheel, you quickly realize that doing an aerial cartwheel is much different than doing a cartwheel. The first reason is that an aerial cartwheel gets its power from the gymnast’s legs, whereas the cartwheel uses the gymnast’s arm muscles. So in order to learn how to do an aerial cartwheel, the gymnast has to strengthen and use different muscles.

Another reason why an aerial cartwheel is much different than a regular cartwheel is that it is much more difficult to learn. While the aerial cartwheel is no longer in a compulsory floor routine, it can be used to fulfill the Level 6 Floor requirement of a salto or aerial element. Many gymnasts also use it in their routines at more advanced levels.

How to do an Aerial Cartwheel Step by Step

1. Mountain Climb

You want to show the mountain climb shape to help you get the power you need for an aerial cartwheel. To get to this shape, start with your dominant leg in front. Then bend both knees, so that your back knee is moving towards the floor and your front knee is facing towards the ceiling. You are going to push with your legs through this shape to the needle kick.

How to do an aerial cartwheel


2. Needle Kick

Pushing from the mountain climb shape to the needle kick is what gives you the power you need to push off the floor for your aerial cartwheel. With this motion if you were using a slider it should go flying backwards. So you want to be pushing and driving through your foot to get your leg into the air.

How to do an aerial cartwheel step by step


3. Upside Down Straddle

The next step is the part of the aerial that is the cartwheel shape with no hands.

How to do an aerial cartwheel step by step


4. Landing

Next land your aerial with your non-dominant leg in front, with your dominant leg coming behind it to land in a lunge.

How to do an aerial cartwheel step by step


Now that you’ve learned to the steps to doing an aerial cartwheel, we’re going to give you the exercises you need to strengthen the necessary muscles, along with some drills and tools to help you learn the skill.

how to do an aerial
Click Here to Download GymnasticsHQ’s Aerial Cartwheel Workout


Muscles you need for an Aerial Cartwheel


Legs: You need strong leg muscles to do an aerial cartwheel because your legs are what give your body lift and momentum in order to stay in the air.

Core: You also need strong core muscles to perform an aerial cartwheel because you have to be squeezing your core to keep your body tight while you are in the air.


Exercises You Can Do at Home to Strengthen the Muscles you Need for an Aerial

hip lift

Hip Lift: Hip lifts strengthen your glutes, which you need to push off the ground for your aerial. To do them, lie on your back with your knees bent, your arms at your side and your feet on the ground. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, hold for a second and then lower your hips back to the floor to finish the repetition. Make sure you are keeping your back flat and squeezing your butt.

kettlebell deadlift

Kettlebell Deadlift: Kettlebell deadlifts help to strengthen your legs. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Place a kettlebell between your legs, in line with your ankles. With a straight back, looking in front of you, bend from the hips and reach down to pick up the kettlebell in between your legs. Your shins should be vertical and your lower back should be flat. Then pushing through your legs, return to a standing position.


Squats: Squats are great exercises to help you strengthen the leg muscles you need for an aerial cartwheel. Stand with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forwards. Keeping your back straight and your core squeezed, lower yourself with your weight on your heels. It can be easier with your arms extended out straight in front of you parallel to the ground. The goal will be for your thighs to become perpendicular to your calves, but only go as far as you can while controlling the movement. With the weight of your body in your heels, push against the floor and raise yourself back to a standing position in order to complete the repetition.lunges

Lunges: Lunges are a great exercise to do to learn an aerial cartwheel because it mimics the beginning motion of an aerial. To do a lunge, stand with your legs together and your hands on your hips (or if you are using weights with your arms beside you). Your back should be straight and you should be looking in front of you. Step one foot forward and bend both legs until your back leg is almost touching the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure your front knee is above your ankle, and that your back knee doesn’t touch the floor. Stand up and repeat with the other leg.


Planks: Planks are a great exercise to strengthen your core muscles. You can do a plank exercise from either your wrists or your elbows. When you are in the plank position you want to be squeezing your legs, butt and core. Your shoulders should be over your elbows, and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet. As you are squeezing all your muscles and maintaining a straight-body position, make sure to breathe!


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Aerial Cartwheel Exercises You Can Do at Home

Needle Kicks: To do a needle kick exercise as a drill for the aerial entry, start from a mountain climber position. This is with one knee on the ground and your other leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Then you want to stand up by pushing on your front leg (keeping your other leg behind you), and after you have stood up quickly do a needle kick. This is to practice the motion going into your aerial. You can see this drill in the video above.


Cartwheel Close: You can practice doing cartwheel closes at home, using the lunge motion in the beginning of the cartwheel that you will need to do an aerial. Do a fast cartwheel and land one foot swiftly after the other, pulling the second foot into the first one.

Cartwheel Close with Sliders: You can do the drill shown in the video above at home also — a cartwheel close with sliders. The goal of this drill is to get the sliders to slide back away from your feet. You want to be lunging and moving your feet so fast that the sliders go flying.

Aerial Cartwheel Drills You Should Be Able to do at the Gym

Aerial off a Panel Mat: At the gym you should be able to do an aerial off a raised surface before you learn to do one on the floor. This can be off a panel mat, or into the pit on a mat.

Tools for Learning an Aerial Cartwheel


SlidersSliders are a great tool to help you learn an aerial cartwheel. You want to be able to do a cartwheel close drill and have the sliders go flying.

Panel MatA panel mat is useful for several different aerial cartwheel drills.


gymnastics skill checklist


So, if you want to learn how to do an aerial cartwheel, the first step is to strengthen your legs and core muscles. The next step is to practice the needle kicks drill, cartwheel close and cartwheel close with sliders. After you have mastered those drills, try aerials off a raised surface. Once you can do an aerial successfully off a raised surface, you should be able to take your new skill to the floor. I hope the video and exercises are helpful to you and help you learn how to do an aerial cartwheel!



how to do an aerial cartwheel

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64 comments… add one
  • Haley Hartline November 17, 2016, 8:17 am

    I have done an aerial before by my self a few days ago. But now I’m having trouble getting enough height. What do I do?

    • makayla December 16, 2016, 9:57 pm

      A high hurdle right before gives you all your height and momentum for an Ariel.

      • moses November 14, 2018, 5:02 pm

        I have done a aeriel cartwheel 2 time so the third time fumbled what will i do to regain it

        • Gymnast February 3, 2021, 2:18 am

          I’m level 9 so I do it on the beam keeping your leg straight instead of bending it in helps also swing your arms back snd keep the straddle position

    • Ariana January 4, 2018, 1:25 am

      Even though I’m a cheerleader you should maybe try one handed cartwheels and learn how to push up your weight

    • Sarah Sail October 22, 2019, 4:34 pm

      I am a level 8 gymnast. I say you need to get more speed.

    • Dakota October 22, 2020, 9:50 pm

      This used t be a MAJOR problem for me too. What helped me most was doing one foot toe rises, where you just go on your tippy toes with only one foot on the ground. You can also do jumps like these with one leg bent jumping up and down, making sure to end your leg enough. Hope this helps!

  • gymnastics December 3, 2016, 11:15 am

    I so wish I was good at gymnastics! I can’t seem to get a lot of moves! But I was wondering how do I know if I am a level 1 or 2? (I am a self – taught gymnast.)

    • Grace December 5, 2016, 1:12 pm

      If you are willing to join a gymnastics class, I suggest you do so, if you are wanting to learn new skills. If you don’t want to join a class, use you tube gymnastics tutorials. They will teach you what you need to know.

    • Sara Lloyd November 26, 2018, 9:41 pm

      To find out what level you are, look up the requirements for each event, compare it to what you have, and whichever one you have the most skills in, is your level! Good luck! 🙂

  • brianna January 6, 2017, 11:54 pm

    how do u do it i thought you were going tell us how to do it

    • Annie January 26, 2017, 7:44 pm

      The picture at the top shows you how to do it. Simply lunge forward, push off of your leg, hold yourself with your core in the air, and cartwheel onto the other leg.

      • Rachel February 17, 2017, 2:02 pm

        Basically it’s a cartwheel without your hands, practice with one handsp and then do one hand late, and then you got an ariel!

  • Billie gott March 20, 2017, 3:04 pm

    I am so close to my aerial but my hands go down right when i go up into it.. what can I do to stop that

    • Anna February 16, 2019, 12:57 pm

      Either your not going high enough or its fear taking over, maybe trying it off of a panel mat would help. That really helped me get my aerial. Good Luck!

      • selina April 27, 2019, 4:41 pm

        that did not work for me nothing worked for me.

  • Alyssa March 24, 2017, 11:46 pm

    I’m a level 2 gymnast, so what I did to get my aerial without my hands is do and round-off, off of a slightly higher area, such as sidewalk to street (I suggest not doing this because it is dangerous), and keep doing that until your are ready for step 2. Step 2: After you have mastered your round-off, off of a higher area, try hurdling off of the higher area and keep your hands away from the ground for 1 second, then 2 seconds, then 3, then 4, then5, etc. Until you get it. Step 3: Try the same thing same-leveled ground, and you will get it.
    Ps, Don’t be scared to hurt yourself, try it on a bouncy area such as trampoline, then on ground it your that uncomfortable.

  • icecreamlovershayla21 March 29, 2017, 7:03 pm

    when i keep on trying to do an ariel my hands keep on going down on the ground how do prevent that from happening??? HELP!!!

    • Evelyn December 30, 2017, 5:52 pm

      Don’t be afraid to keep you’r hands off the ground if you always put you’r hands down then you will never get it! Just go for it!

    • Ave October 8, 2018, 9:05 pm

      in my experience, lifting your hands off the ground will come once you have enough power to actually do an aerial. Putting your hands down is a natural reflex, but once you have the strength to get your aerial without putting your hands down, your hands will naturally stop touching the ground. In the meantime strengthen your legs and core.

  • Hannah H-E August 15, 2017, 5:26 am

    I am having extreme trouble getting my ariel, does anyone know how I could get enough momentum and height into my Ariel. I am trying to learn one by doing fast cartwheels.. good idea?

    • Grace April 28, 2019, 12:14 pm

      Try having a really long running start and eventually you’ll be able to do it without any momentum. That’s how I learned it.

      • Gymnast.7 May 8, 2019, 11:38 pm

        Long running starts aren’t as helpful as people think. Try just taking a few (1 or 2) powerful steps and a long not high hurdle and you can also try doing it off a block onto lower surface so you have more time to kick you legs over. Hope this helps!

  • Madison August 23, 2017, 2:30 pm

    To get your aerial, pretend that the floor is lava. You can’t touch the floor or you’ll get burned. Your feet, however, have special shoes that can keep you from getting burned. Your hands don’t have anything special on them, so if you touch your hands to the floor, then you’ll get burned. I know this seems crazy, but I told this to my teammate when she was trying aerials off a panel mat. She hadn’t made it yet, but after I told her this, she made it! Try this strategy, it really works! I didn’t get my aerial from this strategy, I got my aerial by just not putting my hands on the ground. Do try this though! Good luck with your aerial!

  • Alayah September 9, 2017, 6:29 pm

    what is the highest limit to do a aerial?

  • Annie July 27, 2018, 10:40 am

    So… I am learning my aerial and I can do it off of a raised surface and I can do it on a trampoline. I am on Xcel Gold team and my teammates and i are trying to get it so that we can take a really cool group photo at the beach. Please help me! I also just want to get my aerial so I can have it in my routine.

  • adina August 9, 2018, 6:17 am

    hi! a few days ago, i tried doing an aerial and i did it 5 times in a row. i went on a walk and when i got back i tried again. i couldn’t do it. yesterday i practiced for like an hour and i only did it twice. it is so frustrating!! please help!

  • Savannah September 3, 2018, 8:41 pm

    i think i know how to do a aerial, but i am really scared. i always put my hands down at the end. WHAT DO I DO?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!?!?!?!?!

    • Morgan March 4, 2020, 11:36 am

      I know how you feel, my hands BARELY touch the ground. I’m so close and it drives me nuts

  • Meghan December 10, 2018, 6:09 pm

    I got my Ariel by doing them off a panel mat. For drills, I put all my weight on my good foot and jump as high as I can, pointing my toe. I also put my hands on a wall and drive my back leg HARD up. Also ONLY IF YOURE REALLY CLOSE, you can hold something in your fists so you don’t put them down. If you’re not close, then don’t do this cause you could hurt your wrists.

  • Shahiira Harrison March 27, 2019, 8:54 pm

    I can do over 20 cartwheels at once but not an aerial cartwheel.I want to be a gymnast.I am 17 years old.Can I do gymnastics at my age still?

    • mia August 7, 2019, 10:10 pm

      Yes, you practically can, it will just be a little harder. If you want to do a class, I don’t know how easy it will be to find one. Good luck though!

  • Anna April 6, 2019, 8:56 pm

    I had my aerial but now I have lost the skill, how can I get it back

  • Charli April 10, 2019, 5:49 pm

    I have had my Arial ages ago now I’m trying to get it back but I have the strength and get my way over halfway when I remember I don’t have hands on the ground I put them down. Sometimes I go for the Arial and then I push my hands down when I take off and if I hold something to remind me not to touch the ground I drop the thing and then do a cartwheel

  • Grace April 28, 2019, 12:02 pm

    How come I can do my aerials sometimes but other times I can’t?

  • Gymnast.7 May 8, 2019, 11:31 pm

    Hi everyone, I really need help with my Ariel I think I know how do it I am just so scared and always put my hands down does anyone have any tips for confidence issues?


  • Lisa May 11, 2019, 2:45 pm

    Will running into my aerial help?

    • Gymnast.7 May 14, 2019, 10:32 pm

      Not necessarily sometimes just a couple of steps (1 or 2) is more beneficial. Hopes this helps.

  • pola May 21, 2019, 10:53 am

    I have my arial on my trampoline, what do you guys recommend for me to get it on the ground ? please write a lot

  • Shanel June 10, 2019, 9:13 pm

    Try doing leg strengthening exercises because you want to push off the ground with your good leg, so that you have enough height. Hope this helps!

  • Gymnast August 22, 2019, 1:23 pm

    My friend and I are SO SO SO SO close to them. Can do them on tumble track, thinking about doing it about doing it off stacked up panel mat onto squishy mat. Is that a good idea?

  • Christine October 23, 2019, 3:26 am

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  • kittycat27395 roblox please give robux March 19, 2020, 7:34 pm

    i am super close but whatever i do including looking at this website i always put my elbows on the ground what should i do so that doesn’t happen

  • kittycat27395 roblox please give robux March 20, 2020, 1:45 pm

    i am super close but some how i always put my elbows on the ground what should i do to stop that

  • kittycat27395 roblox please give robux March 23, 2020, 9:41 am

    i tried to do that but it was not helpful i always put my hands on to the squishy mat when i tried to do that

  • Level10gymnast October 7, 2020, 2:44 pm

    I am also a taught gymnast i am like 1evel 10 i can do a triple back flip but nearly hit my head can you help with that .

  • Zoe Beudeker November 27, 2020, 2:03 am

    How can I get my aerial on the tramp and then floor I’m am almost level 2

  • Leah Awow December 2, 2020, 10:19 pm

    Wait a minute how do you do an upside down stratle

  • Leah Awow December 2, 2020, 10:19 pm


  • ViVi January 18, 2021, 4:13 pm

    I have done this so many times but I still can’t get it. How do I do a straddle in the air. I am a self-taught gymnast so i do not have experience.

    • caroline February 21, 2021, 3:55 pm

      just don´t worry about the straddle and point your toes

  • caroline February 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    how do I do this my hands keep touching the ground I have tried every thing holding things tiying myself togrther what do I do

  • sym'phoniii February 27, 2021, 4:47 pm

    i can not get that down like

  • Ava smith March 2, 2021, 4:18 pm

    I’m a level 5 gymnast and I got my Ariel by doing leg strengthening it takes time but follow the right steps and you will get it the foundation to an areal is a basic cartwheel though so practice that if you haven’t

  • Elise March 30, 2021, 4:43 pm

    I can’t Keep my arms up during the aerial what should I do (self taught gymnast starting level1 -3 soon , 4’11 or 5’0)

  • princess chidima April 17, 2021, 9:30 am

    i don t think if i try this

  • Banana Gymnast April 18, 2021, 9:46 am

    I can probably do an aerial but the moment of I freak out and put my hands down. No matter how many times I tell myself that I shouldn’t put my hands down I keep putting them down anyway. Advice anyone?

  • Natalie Sweeney May 11, 2021, 4:36 pm

    I’m a level 9 gymnast so if anyone has any questions I can Probably answer them

  • Natalie Sweeney May 11, 2021, 4:37 pm

    Try dropping your shoulder more in your Ariel

  • Ore June 17, 2021, 4:39 pm

    I can do a cartwheel but when I try the ariel I keep end doing a spin how do I fix it plz i really trying

  • Ore June 17, 2021, 4:40 pm

    I can probably do an aerial but the moment I freak out and put my hands down. No matter how many times I tell myself that I shouldn’t put my hands down I keep putting them down anyway.

  • Kristi August 22, 2021, 8:58 am

    Did I miss the part where you use arm swing down and back for lift? I don’t think I saw anything about using the arms during the aerial. I have been coaching and teaching aerials for years and always teach this part as well. Very important.

  • Gymnast girl August 25, 2021, 10:41 pm

    How do I not put my hands down? I can’t even do it with a spotter or from a height help please

  • Harry Hole September 19, 2021, 6:43 pm

    I poot every time I try it


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