photo credit: mugley
What is interval training and how can it make you a better player? Back in 2006 I answered that question with a post about the best way to run to cricket success. To summarise my stance then (and now): I love interval running for the following reasons:
- It's cricket specific because it reflects the stop-start nature of the game.
- You can the same fitness results in less time.
- You can integrate it with fielding drills.
- It speeds up your metabolism which is good for fat burning.
- It's a flexible system that can be adapted to your needs.
- It's less boring than running round the streets for hours.
Interval training comes in quite a few different formats that are designed to train different energy systems (something I talk about more here). In order to best use the method you need to know how it fits your needs.
How much interval training do I need?
If your goal is improved endurance above all other factors (speed, strength, power and the like) then you will do more interval training than if you are simply trying to maintain your current levels. Already fit players looking to improve further can do energy system work almost every day (alternating between interval runs and other methods).
You can maintain current levels with 1-2 interval runs per week. If you are unfit I would still advise 2-3 interval sessions a week but start at a slow pace and build up the intensity. The disclaimer is, as always, that you should consult your doctor before embarking on a training program.
It's best to do some kind of interval work all year round whatever your goal. Simply change the number and length of sessions depending on your goals.
What does an interval training session look like?
The basic structure of an interval training session is always the same:
- Warm up beforehand.
- Run for distance or time then rest for time. Repeat.
- Cool down and stretch afterwards.
The interesting part is how much you should run, how much you should rest and how hard you should run. Again, this depends on your goal. In the table below I outline the work/rest/intensity ratio for the goal you have.
Generally cricketers should focus on work capacity, pure speed and ATP-PC work as these are the most specific. Mix up the sessions as much as you can while keeping the overall goal in mind at all times.
Cricket Interval Training
Key ET = Extensive Tempo, general work capacity IT = Intensive Tempo, general work capacity (1 IT workout to every 3 ET workouts) ATP-PC = Cricket Specific interval training Notes
- Intensity can be self analysed. Most people can roughly judge what percentage speed they are running at compared to maximum. The alternative is to test before starting the plan. Then calculate times.
- To make to workouts more cricket specific batsman can wear pads, carry a bat and run the distance between wickets including turning correctly. Bowlers can perform a shadow bowl after every interval.
- Fielding drills can be factored in. There are some excellent drills in the SAQ cricket book for conditioning.
How long should I rest between workouts?
Rest time means recovery time. It is as important as the training itself. As a rule the more intense the session the longer break you need before the next session. Extensive tempo training can be performed again 8-12 hours later. Intensive tempo work needs 36-48 hours recovery. ATP-PC and speed work can take up to 72 hours to recover due to high neural demand.
It's a good idea not to do any interval running on the day before or the day of a match unless it is very low intensity. This will stop you feeling physically drained when you are on the field.
You can still train while you are resting between interval sessions. Strength training is a good option (although not after a very intense speed workout). Always listen to your body first.
Finally, this information is not gospel. Everyone responds in broadly similar ways to training but there are many individual differences. You may need to start at a lower intensity or do less sets for example. As long as you are progressing by gradually improving each session you have nothing to worry about. There are no prizes for being a hero and getting injured.
If you want more specific information please drop me a line via the Ask a Question section.
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.
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