The press up divides cricketers of all ages and levels.
On one side it's the simple to do, no equipment required exercise of the super fit (or those aspiring to get fitter at least). On the other side it's a painful punishment that brings back memories of nasty PE teachers from school.
Whether you love it or loathe it there is no doubting how useful and versatile the push up is when done correctly. If your goal is strength, power, fat loss or injury prevention there is a press up for you. That's why it drives me mad when I see coaches dishing out press ups for dropping a catch. Exercise is about enjoyment, not punishment.
What makes the press up so good for cricket?
The big advantage in press ups for me is the improvement they provide in shoulder stability. Stable shoulders are resistant to injury. If you bowl or throw the push up is for you.
This is where the press up beats the bench press hands down. The press up forces the stabilising muscles around your shoulder (rotator cuff and serratus anterior) to work where the bench press can't. The bench is great for upper body pushing strength but can't hold a candle to the push up for shoulder stability and, by extension, injury prevention.
On top of this, the press up forces you to stabilise your core as you perform the exercises. We have all heard about how important a strong core is and doing press ups is an excellent weapon in your core training arsenal.
How many press ups should I do?
As we often tell you on miCricketCoach, the answer depends. In this case on 2 factors:
- Strength. The stronger you are the more press ups you need to do to get a training effect. As you know, we need to overload our muscles to improve performance. If you are a beginner and can't do one press up you can 'deload' by doing them on your knees. If you can do more than 20 with strict form you can load up by raising your feet on a bench, wearing a weight vest or putting a resistance band around your shoulders.
- Goal. The press up is very versatile and you can adjust it to your goal. If you want to use it for weight loss or shoulder health the more press ups you can do the better. If you are looking more to strength you want to keep the number in the 1-10 repetition range. This may mean making the exercise harder by adding weight. You can also make it a power development exercise by adding a clap.
It's a common mistake to think that the more press ups you can do the better in all cases. This usually leads to repetitions done with bad technique. It's far better to do 10 strict push ups than 100 bad ones.
The press up is a powerful exercise for cricketers. Don't forget to balance out any pushing exercises like this one with pulling exercises like chin ups or inverted rows to balance your strength and power too.
Do you like to do press ups? If so, how do you use them?
If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.