How to Use Powerlifting to Become a Better Cricketer | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Use Powerlifting to Become a Better Cricketer

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Today’s article is a guest post from personal trainer Brian Wardle.

Cricket requires power: power to hit, power to bowl the ball with pace or with revolutions, power to sprint.

If there is one guy who knows about power its Louis Simmons.

He for decades he has got people powerful with a training methodology called the conjugate system.

It’s allowed his gym to produce powerlifters who regularly break records in the squat, deadlift and bench press.

And you can use it to break records too.

Because strong is better.

Conjugate training system for cricket

The system involves applying three methods in order to improve muscular strength and tension

  • The Max Effort Method: This requires you to lift weights in the 90-100% + range.
  • The Repeated Effort Method: This requires you to lift sub maximal weights to near or absolute failure.
  • The Dynamic Effort Method: This requires you to use sub maximal weights, (usually 50-60% of your 1RM) and you move the weight as fast as possible.

So, in the off-season a typical training week would look like this:

  • Sunday: Max effort Lower Body
  • Tuesday: Dynamic Effort Upper Body
  • Thursday: Dynamic Effort Lower Body
  • Friday: Max Effort Upper Body

The Goal of the Max effort sessions is to always try and break a record. So if you squat 150kg in week 1, then week 2 you should try squatting 155kg.

This serves a great purpose because it allows the athlete and coach to monitor strength improvements, but also creates a positive and competitive environment.

The system also requires you to rotate Max Effort movements/exercises as often as necessary.

A good guide is to rotate every 3-4 weeks and more experienced athletes to rotate every 1-2 weeks. The reason behind this is to avoid accommodation.

Accommodation is when you become accustomed to an exercise and simply cannot get stronger in that particular lift.

If an exercise isn’t rotated then the athlete is at risk of burning out the Central Nervous System (CNS) and can also become weaker.

On Dynamic Effort Days, a 3 week pendulum wave is used. This involves you waving the percentages of your core lift typically from 50-60% of your 1RM.

So in week 1 you would use 50%, week 2 55% and week 3 60%. After this you would go back down to 50% and start the wave again with a new exercise.

Louis Simmons found that after 3 weeks of doing the same exercise an athlete simply can not get any faster so hence the reason for using the pendulum wave system.

The Repeated Effort Method is used to strengthen areas of weakness and build muscle to help with the core lifts. With these exercises you would usually pick 3-4 movements and perform them after your Max Effort or Dynamic Effort movement using repetitions ranging from 6-20.

Let me give you an example:
Max effort Upper Body
  • Bench Press work upto 1RM
  • Close Grip Bench Press 4x6
  • Bent over row 3x12
  • Lat Pulldown 5x12
  • Abs 3x20

You are not a powerlifter

Of course, it’s unlikely you will train as a cricket and a powerlifter at the same time, so certain considerations need to be made for performance in sport.

  • You can substitute Max effort bench pressing for Max effort Pull-ups (this is especially useful for throwing or bowling).
  • Work more with dumbbells on repeated effort work. As this helps with reducing any shoulder issues or potential issues.
  • Sprints work well on dynamic effort day as core or main exercises. Also tyre flipping sled pulling or Med ball work.
  • Use more full “quad” squats as opposed to box squats as this will train the VMO (tear drop shaped muscle in the leg) which is primarily responsible for knee stabilisation.
  • Train single leg movements such as lunges, step ups Single leg deadlifts.

I love this method of training in the off season to keep me strong and ward off injuries. You may not be a powerlifter, but you can benefit from one of the most successful training systems of all time anyway.

Make sure you give it a go when winter arrives.

About the Author: Brian Wardle is a personal trainer, competitive powerlifter and keen club cricketer. His main interest lies in strength, power and performance for sport. Brian uses a mixture of conventional and un-conventional type training including, strongman, chains, bands, kettlebells, medicine balls and sleds to name a few. He currently operates a small fitness studio based in Leeds where he helps athletes and serious trainees alike improve their strength and physique enhancement goals. For more information you can email Brian at  or visit his website 

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doing bench press will make you hunch up and loss your flexiblity around the shoulders?

Not if you follow a complete programme that also includes pulling exercises and shoulder mobility. However if you JUST did straight bar bench press you would be setting yourself up for shoulder issues.

So what would you suggest to strengthen the pecs, triceps and shoulders then jerry?

Actually, Jerry is right! I see no end of people, male and female, who have all kinds of issues with their shoulder area due to bench presses. These include myofascial issues as well as mobility.

However, this is not the fault of the exercise but of the technique Smiling.

My advice, stick to press ups unless you can get a really good PT or S&C practitioner to show you how to perform the bench press correctly. Personally, I believe random use of gym equipment should be outlawed unless properly trained... but then... if this was the case, I would be out of business Laughing out loud

Yes, technique is vital to all exercises, especially the "big lifts". As is proper mobility work, stretching and myofasical release. Finally, chin ups, rows finish the picture.

Liz, press ups are just as bad sometimes - elbows flared, core and glutes not braced, back extended, neck hyperextended... I love press ups and benching, but my thoughts are to keep the straight bar benching to a minimum and double up on posterior chain work to be safe.

what kind of mobility work and stretching excerises?

weightlifters say that they don't do benching because they it can slow them down and lose their flexible like snatching. should a weightlifter bench once a day within a week? what do you think?

It is amazing how few appear to be able to manage a good press up... and there are some shockers on the ECB HOWZAT! resource. However, with only your own bodyweight involved [unless your sister is sitting on your back ;)] it does far less damage! It might not be doing any good but more importantly, any damage done is far easily rectified.

To be safe... get properly trained Laughing out loud

A weightlifter who does not snatch?


I think there may be a little misunderstanding here. It is extremely important that you do not get powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders and weight trainers muddle up.

Basically [only basically]:

Powerlifters work to measure how much they can lift in the bench, deadlift, and squat.

Weightlifters measure how much they can lift in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.

These are both sports and unless you are involved in these sports, you should not get too hung up on what they are doing.

Bodybuilders are not that interested in athletic performance. They are concerned with how their muscles look and how symmetrical their bodies are.

Weight training is just something people who lift weights do to keep fit and healthy with no particular sports goal in mind.

Agreed Liz, although for shoulder health for cricketers I think it's important to have both open and closed chain exercises. Straight bar benching doesn't have to be the option of course, there are plenty of alternatives.

Absolutely, although as I specialise in Olympic 'Lifts, I may go for an alternative... However, the bench press is ideal for many and absolutely spot on for Brian. Of course, Brian's technique is A1. He recruits the correct muscles, allowing his back to do the work, not the shoulders.

On the subject of press ups, Mike Brundle posted a great video on this site with some great progressions. He also demonstrates a very healthy back and how to keep it. Eye-wink

This is really amazing workout. But I have question about cardio exercise. Isn't it cardio exercise important? how many days a week we should do cardio in winter?