Fitness for Fast Bowlers: Structure of a Gym Session | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Fitness for Fast Bowlers: Structure of a Gym Session

This is a guest article from fast bowling and strength coach Steffan Jones.

Bowling is one of the most stressful and unnatural activities you can ask your body to do. The stresses involved are immense.

Luckily, most of the techniques I use as a strength coach working with fast bowlers to prevent injury also allow you to become a fast bowler. There is no doubt that a well-designed training plan is an essential tool for all fast bowlers.

I call my version of this system "RAMPIPE", adapted from a trainer called Ian Jefferys.

It's a a specific, progressive and periodised training program specific to those who want to bowl frighteningly fast.

Every session follows the same routine from low intensity warm up drills to high intensity weight training or weighted ball bowling dependant on the phase.

Here is how I set out every session.

RAM: Raise, Activate, Mobilise

The first section is almost identical to the method I use for a net session. You can find the details here.

Exact exercises may vary depending on the space and equipment you have. For example, in a gym setting you may not have the space for grid running and you need to do your mobility drills "on the spot".

The principles, however, do not change.

P: Potentiate Nervous System

As I talked about in my last article, this is where the intensity of the warm-up is increased to replicate your performance. This is the game ready section which will consist of training muscles and muscular contractions that are specific to bowling.

They are done at maximal effort with the aim of increasing muscle fiber recruitment. This phase will enhance your bowling performance.

Ideally you will have the space/equipment for the bowling drills mentioned in my last article. If not, you can skip them and move right to the strength/power portion of the workout.

The strength section is the main part of the plan.

In it we train 3 types of contraction (or muscle movement):

  1. Concentric: The classic, traditional strength training movement. Think of a biceps curl.
  2. Isometric: Contracting muscles while staying still. This activates more fibres without the same time required for recovery.
  3. Eccentric: Trains your body to absorb greater force and recruit more fibres. This gives a larger potential for strength improvement.

Most training plans don't consider all these options because they are not fast bowler specific.

We then break down the exact exercises, sets and reps depending on time of year. In strength training, this is called periodisation. Each phase is one step closer to the start of your season.

Upper body strength

  • Phase 1 (4 weeks): traditional lifting for strength, low volume and explosive.
  • Phase 2 (4 weeks): Shift to isometric training for strength. Use loaded explosive training for power. Phase 3 (4 weeks): Explosive training for strength maintenance with light weight. Use upper body pushing exercises or medicine ball throws for speed/power. You can also use complex training in this phase.
  • Phase 4 (2-4 weeks): medicine ball throws, heavy ball bowling, or light bench press throw in conjunction bowling.

Lower body strength

Many bowlers assume that running and bowling is all you need for "legs" (or lower body training). However you need to be strong and powerful to prevent injury and bowl fast, so don't skip this section.

  • Phase 1: Strength (squats, deadlift variations and loaded sprints)
  • Phase 2: Shock (depth jumps, high volume strength, Complex training, sprint work)
  • Phase 3: Explosive/speed/recovery. Here you benefit from the the previous phase (jump squats, speed squats, Olympic lifts variants, sprint work, plyometric jumps)
  • Phase 4- Specific (sprints, plyometric jumps)

IP: Intervention. Performance

While it is important to work on technique when you are fresh and not tired from a gym session, you can still perform skill drills after training.

If you have space, and you feel fresh enough, perform drills in a session that focuses on one aspect of the skill.

Then move on to performing your skill based on outcome (target bowling or net practice).

E: Evaluation

As I previously also mentioned, it's crucial to review your performance after the session. This is equally true of your strength and power sessions.

Record the weights lifted, review if the workout was too hard or too easy, make sure you are progressing in the measure you wish to progress and never "go through the motions".

As with all training, fitness work gives you back what you put in. Work hard, work smart and bowl devastatingly fast.

Steffan Jones is a strength coach and fast bowling coaching with over 15 years experience as a first-class cricketer. For his full programme for fast bowlers fitness, click here.

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i am a 12 year old fast bowler who is very committed to cricket and is aiming to make it into county in a few years. i bowl quite quickly and i am quite fit but i am a little weighty. i am 5'3 and weigh 52kg. i need to lose weight to improve my game. please can you suggest any diets or workouts that could help me lose weight fast. no weights please i as want to be tall and no pills as i think i am too young for those


I am 17 years old.I want to increase my pace please help me.i bowl at a pace of 115kph

contect with me on face book my id is kha

I'm a 14 year old fast bowler I weigh about 140lbs about 5'5 and bowl about 70mph I have had back problems and need to strengthen my lower back and legs I currently play for my county of Cheshire is there anything you can do to help me please email me

Cheers, Arran

make sure that u perform the fitness excersises perfectly.stop playing cricket until u get a perfect bowling physique and work out on ur body.but perform fitness excersises without fail.after u loose ur weight again start playing

I'm 18 and half years old bowls at 123-126 kmph want to bowl quick I'm 5ft 11 inch weight 68 .what should I do.

am asad ali frm pakistan . am 22 . and my speed of bowling is jst round ab8 130 t0 135 . i wanna to toch 145kph.. my wait is 75 kg. plzzz reply

Well, you are just 12 now so i don't believe dieting is right. You need to increasing you fitness by eating healthy also you need to be exercising everyday whether it's running laps or playing cricket. Any form of exercise will do.

i am 19. i can bowl at 120-130 kmph. i need to increase my pace. hw can i?

IM 15 and a half and im a fast bowler bowling 105kph i just started cricket i want to increase pace

what should i do

I am 14 years old and i am a fast bowler. i need to increase me speed. So please give some tips and diet so that i can bowl faster.

I"m a 15 year old boy weighing 39-40Kgs and all time i am thinking about it so please suggest me a workout schedule or some tips to increase my weight and become tall so that i can bowl faster and bat aggresively

See i am also 17 but when i was 16 i bowled around 112-116 kmph.
As you grow up and daily practice, your pace will automatically increase!
now i'm 17 and bowling around 114-120 kmph.

my height is 5'11 and i use to bowl old bowl120-123 about with swing and my weight is 69-70 kg .and want to bowl quicker.pls rply me with gym exercises

hi im 17 i had a shoulder injury and i was out for some time now im back ive been struggling with pace wise and i would need somene to assist me

I'm 14 and I was in your sort of stage when I was your age now I'm playing adults cricket and teams are begging for me. If you want to get fit, running is a great way to do that. Running is a aerobic exercise, which just means 'with oxygen' when you run you should be running at a medium pace so your not getting out of breath that quickly. Do this on top of any training or pe you do at school. Just do it every so often do it for half an hour. I worked out your bmi (body mass index) and its 20.3 which is perfectly fine for your age. Just do half an hour ever other day of jogging and you'll be fine. But you also need to stop eating sweets. If your going to snack have a banana otherwise it won't work. You need to control your diet as well as your exercise. Best of luck for the future

i m 16 year old and i bowl at a pace of 13o can u tell me the gym exercises to get more speed

sir i am 18 Years fast bowler.i bowl at a speed 145kmph.i want tO break the world record which is 161.7kmph.sir what can i do.

i am 21 year old, fast bowler speed 130-135 km/h, want to play for our country , show me the way to reach at my destination, i have no any academic record. pls suggest me what i have to do.....pls

I want to know about fitness in cricket.
Iam a fast bowler my speed is 115 kmph.
I know about how I increase my bowling speed.
Please answer it fastly on my email address

Hii sir, i am Mohit 23 yrs old, am Pacer,as far as i concerned still i am.bowling around 120 to 130 km/h but i wanna 150km/h.
so Should i do for dis sir,
Plzzz tell me