To me that shows how important fitness is to the art of fast bowling. Successful bowlers are strong, athletic and supple. Talent alone is no longer enough.
Circuit training is a great way to get the most 'bang for your buck' when improving your fitness. It's especially effective when you have less time to train because you can get a lot done in a short time. You can also do circuit training anywhere so you are not stuck to going to a gym: Handy if you travel a lot or don't want to pay for a membership.
If you are a fast bowler you can get a lot done in 2 or 3 sessions a week lasting about 30 minutes.
Circuits are a method of fitness training. The format is very flexible, usually involving 6-10 exercises that are completed in a row or a 'circuit' one after another. Each exercise is performed for a number of reps or a set time before moving on. There is a fixed rest period (anything from 0 to 60 seconds) between exercises and a slightly longer rest period between circuits.
This has been shown to develop muscular strength, endurance and mobility (or suppleness): Three vital elements of fast bowling success.
As you can imagine this saves a lot of time compared to the traditional 'sets' method of, say 3 sets of 10 reps with 1 minute rest between sets. However, because of the reduced rest times, the circuit needs to be designed to rest muscles while others are being worked.
After a good warm up, the key to a good circuit is to design it around the main movements of the body. This gives each group of muscles enough rest:
- Power: Examples include squat jumps and clap press ups.
- Knee dominant: Squats, Lunges.
- Pulling: Rows, Chin Ups.
- Pushing: Press Ups, Bench Press.
- Hip Dominant: Deadlifts, Exercise Ball Curls, Glute Bridges.
- Core: Planks, Medicine Ball Work.
As you can see, you can use equipment or do it with just bodyweight. If you want an example try the free 4 week bodyweight training plan here.
Additionally, you can customise the circuit to include more stretches and conditioning work (like sprints, agility ladders, burpees or skipping). You can do the exercises in the order above or play with the format as long as you always start the circuit with a power based exercise.
You can also combine it with skills work like fielding drills. Although it's important to make sure your technique is good under fatigue to prevent injury.
Design the work to rest ratio on your current fitness level. If you are just starting out, 20 seconds of work to 45 seconds of rest may be enough. Start with 2 circuits with 2 minutes rest between them.
It's important to progress if you want to keep improving. You can do this by:
- Increasing the work time
- Decreasing the rest time
- Increasing the number of circuits
- Increasing the resistance (if using weights)
As a bowler, the ideal work to rest ratio is 1:1 (for example, 30 seconds work to 30 seconds rest) but if you can work at 1:2 (30 seconds work, 60 seconds rest) this will make a significant difference to your performance and injury prevention.
When can fast bowlers use circuit training?
You can use circuit training any time of the training year: on or off season.
It works especially well during the season where you may not have the time or energy for a full workout if you are playing several times a week. You can also integrate bodyweight circuit training into net sessions.
Overall circuit training is the jack of all fitness trades. If you have a very obvious weakness (such as strength) it can help you to start training but long term you will need to do more specific work.
But circuits are the answer for the fast bowler who needs to get their fitness done quickly, effectively and with minimal equipment.