The fitter you are the better you play (and the more healthy you are), but where do you start in the quest to getting fit for cricket?
Initially the best way is to concentrate on building a baseline of fitness in the gym (In fact, if you aim to play at a serious level this is essential). For example, you could use the basic fitness programme given to you when you join any gym and see quick improvements (especially if you are just starting out). However, you may want to make your basic gym work specific to building fitness for cricket. The aim here is to build a foundation of fitness (which can be built on if you desire). It is suitable for anyone wanting to start a programme of fitness to improve their game or for people returning to training after an injury or long rest period.
Underlying Principles for Cricket Fitness
Before we get to the routine, let's examine the principles it is built on:
- Overload to Progress. In order to improve performance, your body need to be overloaded slightly more than it is used too. That's why lifting heavy weight makes you stronger and running makes you fitter. What this also means is that you constantly need to be review your workout to ensure you are overloading your muscles. They quickly adapt to the stresses of a workout. You also need to rest your body to give it time to adapt.
- Reverse. Just as your muscles adapt to increased load, the adaptation will reverse as soon as you stop working out.
- Specific. Training is very specific. For example, strength training does not improve endurance. So even at this early stage where the focus is on general fitness we need to consider cricket specific aims. For this reason, all training should be done at a consistent pace with as little rest as possible and exercises must focus on the muscles that you use while playing.
- Free weights. Ideally you should use free weights rather than machines for these workouts. However if you are a beginner, using machines is safer and often easier. If you can learn the free weight techniques from your gym then take the chance as free weights give a better overall workout.
- Periodisation. While this is a good programme for any time of the year, if you are planning to build up from this base further the best time to do this is during the off season. In the UK the months from October to December are best, but you can start as early as September.
- Safety. This is recommended routine only and you undertake it entirely at your own risk. You are responsibility for your own health and safety. If you are not experienced in the gym a qualified instructor should supervise you. You must consult a doctor before starting any training programme. I am not a doctor and cannot advise you on this.
Fitness for Cricket - Base Building Programme
Edit: since I orginally wrote this article my ideas have changed somewhat. I now recommend the excellent and free StrongLifts 5x5 Plan for beginners to build up strength. For cricket specific endurance and speed I recommend this article.
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