Stop being a skinny cricketer and start winning more games | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Stop being a skinny cricketer and start winning more games

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Are you a skinny cricketer who wants to improve? Then this article is for you.

Make a list of all the things you would like to be able to do better on the cricket pitch. Be as precise as you can. Write it down if you like or just do it in your head.

Don't read on until you have done the list.

Did it include?

  • Bowl faster
  • Have better endurance/stamina
  • Hit more boundaries
  • Steal more quick singles
  • Stop more boundaries in the field

I'm willing to bet it did. Who wouldn't want to improve at least one of those things?

Why being too skinny is hurting your cricket

If you are lacking strength you can't do any of those things on your list as well as your potential allows.

More strength means more speed and more power: Two things essential to maximising your potential. These are the building blocks of performance that you are lacking.

One thing that strength does not have to mean is size. Look at boxers in lightweight classes. I certainly would not like to be punched by one of those guys even if they do weigh less than 10 stone. They have speed and power without the bulk.

You can do the same for your cricket.

How to get stronger without bulking up

First you are going to have to bite the bullet and strength train. Unless you are still growing you can't get stronger by just playing cricket. The only way to systematically improve your strength without bulking up is to use resistance in a progressive way.

That means joining a gym (or having a serious home setup)

A lot of skinny people fear this will turn them into the hulk overnight. While you will get some muscle over time, train right and you have nothing to fear.


  1. Train with low reps. You need to have access to some heavy weights because you will be lifting in the 3-5 rep range. This stimulates your muscles to get stronger without getting bigger. If you go up to 6-12 reps the opposite happens: Less strength, more growth. 2-3 sessions a week should do it.
  2. Do interval training. Intervals not only improve your endurance, they allow you to burn calories that would otherwise become bulky muscle. Complex training is also an option. Stick with 2-3 interval/complex sessions a week (you can do it after lifting weights if you like).
  3. Play cricket. Just playing cricket will not only improve your cricket skills but will also stop you from getting bulky by burning calories.


If you know Dr. John Berardi's 10 rules you already know what is coming. The important points for cricketers who want strength without bulk are:

  • Eat every 2-3 hours. This keeps your metabolism burning and turning over calories so you don't get bulky.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables. Vegetables fill you up without having many calories. They are also loaded with vitamins and other good stuff to keep you healthy.
  • Save the carbs for after training. If it's not fruit or a vegetable then don't eat it unless you have been training in the gym or playing cricket. That includes pasta, rice, potatoes and quinoa. This way you will be eating enough carbs to keep your energy and strength up without putting on bulk.
  • Eat a balance of fats. Fat has all kinds of health benefits so get plenty from a range of sources that include: red meat, fresh fish, nuts, olives, linseeds, avocados, mixed nuts (not salted) and butter.


While you don't need any supplements, if you have your diet and training fully dialled in you could add:

  • Creatine. This boosts your power output, is cheap and safe. Some people also find they gain muscle size when using it but this is just water and will only lead to excess muscle mass when combined with bodybuilding training.
  • Fish Oil. This supplement may or may not boost your metabolism, but it's so good for you for so many other reasons it should be the first supplement on your list whatever you size, strength or weight.

More on cricket supplements here.

Don't put being skinny and weak down to genetics and think you are stuck. You can get stronger without getting too big with the right amount of training and eating.

It takes time, commitment and planning, but the pay off is making the best of your potential on the pitch.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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The hardest part of building muscle for skinny guys is the nutrition aspect. If you have a fast metabolism you are fight against your metabolism and keeping to a strict calorie intake diet. Working out part is easy. Sticking to a good diet to help you build that muscle is challenging.

David, What happens to your muscles say when you do more than 12 reps, do you get more even more bulky.
For example one part of my own bodyweight training program is 5 sets of 25 pushups and then my max set of 40+ pushups (2 min between each set). I combine this with a lot of mobility, core strength, power work and agility work (and a beep test every week). All the stuff that a kid can do without weights.

So in other words what would doing all the pushups do with all that other fitness work combined with it? And if doing too many pushups is a waste of time (in other words doesn't make me stronger for cricket) how can I make it harder to go in the 3-5 rep range? Maybe someone sitting on me while I do them?

Maybe pushups don't apply to what you are saying about the reps and it only applies with weights.

Bodyweight is an interesting question. The same rules apply with any resistance (be it your body or an external weight), so if you can do 5x25 press ups they are certainly too easy for you to get a significant strength benefit.

That means of your goal is strength you need to increase the resistance.

There are ways: elastic bands like Duraband, chains, a weight vest, elevate your feet, or doing them on a Swiss ball.

That said, push ups are slightly different in that they work a lot of smaller stabilising muscles that an exercise like the bench press can't, so they are a vital part of any sensible program. I would say your best bet is to use external resistance like dumbbells or a barbell to get the low reps in and keep with the high rep push ups once a week to keep your stabilising muscles strong.


BTW this pushups program I am following, it trains you to eventually be able to do 100 pushups straight.

At the moment I am in week 5 of the program. So if anyone has dodgy shoulders doing this program could really help it as long as you combine it with what you said some strength (3-5) rep range. ( I HAVE NEVER HAD PAINS IN MY SHOULDER, yet.............) Smiling

I'm sorry David but as I am only 14, I have never used dumbbells or a barbell. For my age should I be using any of them and if I can, what exercises can I do. I do have them as my dad uses them in the garage. We both do our training in there, and I do all my bodyweight and core stuff.

Thanks for the help

You can use dumbells at your age as long as you are sensible. Learn the proper technique for the exercises, match pushing exercises (like bench press) with an equal or greater number of pulling exercises (such as chin ups).

Start with an easy weight (too easy is much better than too hard) and don't progress the weight until such time as you can do 8-10 reps easily with perfect form. At your age it's more about building a base of proper form and getting in the exercise habit.

Let me know how you get on!

Hi David,

I have decided to start some dumbell exercises, and I will start with just a few exercises with very light weight.

What do you think about the exercises in this link above (as they seem pretty simple): Should I do some of those?
When I do these exercises should I aim for 3-5 reps and about 3-5 sets?

Also I found a nice spot to do chin ups at school, right next to the cricket nets (which i have spent every lunch time). So i'll get some friends and have chin ups challenges.

Great to hear Deano, you are moving the right way. Most of those exercises are isolation moves and so not suitable for cricketers or for the 3-5 rep range. The bench press and incline bench is fine if you use a spotter (and to be safer I would recommend using a neutral grip with palms facing inwards). Also reasonable are: shoulder press, dead lift (although I would prefer to see single leg and slightly higher reps, say 6-10), single arm rows and lunges.

I would also make sure you are working on your single leg squat progressions as it's an excellent bodyweight (or light dumbbell) exercise that's ideal in the 5-10 rep range.

The rest are a bit of a waste of time (not totally, but why bother doing them if the benefit is minimal?) so focus on those with chin ups and you are golden.

I'm not sure why the half squat is in there though. If you're going to squat (and you should do some variation, ideal one leg, but 2 is OK) then it's far better to do it as a full squat with the dumbbell held in a goblet position.


do these rules also apply to a bloke who's looking to lose weight but get strong in order to bowl quick. At the minute I'm about 15 stone, but think I'd feel a lot lighter down towards 13 stone, meaning I'd be able to bowl for longer. I know Ajmal Shahzad did it, but did he lose pace when dropping his weight.


No, these rules are for skinny cricketers. You want to lose fat while retaining strength. There are some basics here

In this video , he is using a barbell but if we don't have it , can we use our bat??

If you like, but it's not going to help you gain weight.

I don't want to gain weight!

3-5 reps is what is used to get big bulky muscles

This is why i dont like this article

I used to be skinny personally 6-10 reps is better.

Your statement is nonsense. How many cricketers who train the 3-5 rep range get "big bulky" muscles? Is it all of them? Over what time period does this happen? What standard of evidence are you using to back up your claims?

I am prepared to stand corrected, but your claim is wild and unsupported by evidence.

Your basic premise is correct.The best way to gain lean muscle is to concentrate on Compound Exercise like squats, deadlifts and presses but I would recommend 5/8 reps personally.