Circuit training for fast bowlers | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Circuit training for fast bowlers

Filed in:
There are no great fat fast bowlers.

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.

What is circuit training?

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.

A fast bowling circuit

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.

Image credit: whyld


Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


"There are no great fat fast bowlers."

Ian Botham, Merv Hughes, Andrew Flintoff, Darren Gough Eye-wink

None of whom were fat when they were great. Or fast when they were fat for that matter.

I have to agree with David there!!!

Are you sayin merv hughes was never fat when he was great???????


Doing clap push ups and normal push ups as part of the same workout seems a bit strange - why not do one or the other? Since claps are harder i'd originally assumed that once you are strong enough to do a few sets of normal push ups then you 'graduate' to claps, is that pretty much wrong?

They are different types of exercises. One is for explosive power, the other for strength and core stability. For that reason they are not progressions from each other. To progress a press up (for example if you can do 3 sets of 12) You can raise your feet on a box or add resistance via bands, chains or a weight vest. Still too easy? Go one armed.

You could easily do both clap and 'normal' press ups in one workout for that reason. However, I would probably avoid it just for the sake of getting as many different types of movement in as possible. If I had press ups planned I would probably do squat jumps or med ball throws for power.

Ah I see - alternate days perhaps. Thanks!

Hi Daniel,
My coach in India told me not to do any bench presses since it strengthens a particular part of the chest which is not good for fast bowlers. Can't remember what exactly he said but he told me not to do any bench presses. Do you agree with this. I really want to bench press but i dont because of him. Can you please help me here? thanks

I'm not sure what your coach is driving at there I'm afraid. Could you ask him again? Why is it you want to bench press?

Well he said that by doing bench presses, the arm speed would decrease so you would bowl slower. Is this true?
I am thinking of buying the Duraband cricket thing. It looks really good. But yea i want to know what you think about bench pressing. Is it important for a fast bowler?

It's a lot more complex than than. You could bench heavy to increase your maximum strength or you can bench light and focus on bar speed. Seeing as power is strength x speed you would not get slower from those methods, if anything you would be faster and more resistant to injuries (when combined with suitable pulling exercises). On the down side, benching is not particularly functional - it uses 2 arms and you are in a prone position, so it must be used carefully and in a well planned way to get the full benefits.

For example, one might have a training plan that included in a typical week: straight bar benching (low reps, high weight), press ups (high reps), dumbbell benching with a neutral grip (6-8 rep range) as well as chin ups, rows, rotator cuff work and upper body mobility.

Why is it your coach things your arm speed will decrease? Did he explain that?

Well my coach was one of they type who didn't want us to run miles to get fit and go to the gym to get stronger. He believed that the bodyweight excercises and the core excercises were good enough. I didn't quite agree with him there since using weights is also important i guess.
Thanks for the tips though. I usually do biceps curls, then some shoulder excercise, triceps, abs, etc. Also i start of doing 100 pushups in 5-7 minutes. I heard they are supposed to be great for fast bowlers.
Also ive read somewhere that while bowling, you are not supposed to flex your arm muscles which some of us naturally do. is this true?

hi how do you determine if you have more long muscles or mor short muscles and which one is better for bowling. can the muscle lenght be altered?

When you say short and long, do you mean fast and slow?

no i mean the lenght of a muscle. but talking about slow and fast is there a way which anyone sitting at home can find out how many fast and slow muscle fibers they have and he same with the lenght of a muscle.

I don't really understand the question then. Why is muscle length important?

yeh can you explain that to me and what is best for cricket

Hi Guys,

I play for a club in the USA(Chicago).
We are looking for a batsman/bowler who is interested in playing cricket.
Sorry we cannot sponsor/pay for the player.
contact me if you are interested.

Here is my email.

As far as I know it doesn't make much difference. Stretch every day is the quick answer. What brings you to wonder about it in the first place?

Hi David,
I wanted to ask if it is better for a fast bowler to bench press or life weights with lighter weights and more reps or heavier weights and less reps?

Almost always the latter. Strength is more important that muscular endurance.

ok so basically muscular strength is the outburst of force in a short period of time where muscular endurance are for a longer period. But by lifting heavier weights and doing less reps, don't you become a little too "big" for cricket? Like for example Shane watson maybe. and People who are like him are more likely to get injured?

Often we come accross open chested bowling and side arm.Open chested for natural In swing and other for out.Is it true that an open chested bowler is less prone to shoulder injuries.
Was this a reason Freddy changed his bowling action?

Nope that's a myth.

Hi David,

What do you think of a circuit training session as below:

5 clap pushups
6 jump lunges (a jump every lunge and swap legs while in mid air)
5 burpees
10 squats
5 jump squats
10 push ups
20 star jumps
30 sec bridge


I complete each set (all the exercises) 10X with a 30 sec rest between

Would this improve my strength, power, fat loss, and fitness all in one session?

I do this every 2nd night and the other night is either a skills or strength session

First of all, you must be pretty fit to do that 10 times. Well done.

It's solid enough although it would be more for conditioning/fat loss (depending on diet) than strength and power. I would worry a bit about the great deal of explosive exercises (clap push up, jump lunges, burpees, jump squats and star jumps) your quality is bound to drop over 1 round, let alone 10.

I'm also concerned about the lack of upper body pulling and lower body hip dominant exercises. I would replace at least 3 if not 4 of the power moves with an upper body pulling exercise (chin up or row) and a hip dominant exercise (or lower body pulling if you prefer) like cook hip lifts and some kind of shoulder stabilising exercise like wall slides.

How about this for a full body circute covering all bases in one session? :

Circuit (x2):
Clap Push ups : 10
Squat Jumps : 6
Squats; single leg squats : 10; 5 each
Pull ups : 3
Press ups : 12
Running drills : high knees etc . --> over 20m
Interval Sprints 20m x 6
Planks : 30sec.

Rest Times:
Between exercises: 30 sec.
Between sprints: 10 sec.
Between circuits: 1 min.

a good fast bowler needs...
1. ability to bowl fast
2. strong shoulders and legs
3. ability to bowl a good yorker and a bouncer...
4. ability to swing the ball.
and the most important

Who tolld you fast bowlers are born not made? I recommended reading Ian Pont's Fast Bowler's Bible to get a lesson that they are made, not born.

I agree with Shahzaib in some ways but only in that some people are better suited to bowling fast than others. Regardless of what natural attributes you possess you still need to work hard, have a good action, desire etc in order to actually become a decent fast bowler.

Yeah, The first few pages of Ian Pont's book was really interesting.... Why only the first few pages?????

I live in South Africa...and my car got stolen.... I don't care about the car though... Inside was my Cricket Kit worth about 900 pounds, including my bat I bought in Scotland and a watertight compartment where Ian's book was stored for me to reed in between innings or until I had to go bat.....

They took my whole life with them.

Anyways David, I don't know if you did this already, but isn't there a proffesional fast bowler, currently playing, you can ask for a basic workout they do on a weekly/daily basis.

Kind Regards

Thats very good i need body weight circuit training for a batsman plz include that.

You can do the same one.

hi im dip ,i wnts to kno that after my morning warm up,what should i do to make my body flexible

I believe Ian has a new book out in the spring with more drills for fast bowling, the first book was a real eye opener and as a cricket coach allowed to increase my understanding of what is required to bowl pace. Think the real message is that all bowlers can increase pace by being fit, strong, flexible, explosive, improved action and understanding..

I do running atleast for half and hour, then i go for 40 to 50 dips and then stretching of body for 10 mint. Is it okay for the good fast bowler or do i need any changes in my exercise.

Rakesh Singh