I'm not interested in exercises.
I'm interested in how to run faster, throw further, stay injury free, score runs and take wickets.
Because that's all exercises are; a means to an end.
As a cricketer, the best exercise in the world is useless if it doesn't help you play better cricket.
Nevertheless, one of the most common cricket-fitness questions we get here on PitchVision Academy is "which exercises should I do?"
So it's about time I answered it.
And here are those exercises. Every cricketer should look to put these movements into a training plan no matter what his or her age or goal. That's why I popped the best variations in there too.
Believe the hype about squats you hear from your strength training obsessed friends.
Squats are the fastest way build strength in the legs and strength means more power with less injuries. They are also a powerful way to improve mobility in the hips.
But squats are misunderstood. Meathead gym rats insist they only count if you have a bar on your back and at least 3 plates on either side. Bad personal trainers, meanwhile, insist anything bigger than a pink dumbbell will blow you up to the size of a house.
The truth is that squat is a powerful and flexible exercise that is adaptable to your needs as a cricketer. It's just a matter of picking the right squatting tool for the job.
The main types are:
- Barbell back squat. Used mainly in the winter to build up strength with low reps.
- Barbell front squat. A more difficult version of the back squat that focuses on core strength. I admit I prefer this version to the back squat even though you can't squat as much weight.
- Goblet squat. An easy way to start squatting. Teaches you the correct technique of "sitting back" and getting your thighs low.
- Bodyweight squat. Best used for conditioning as part of a bodyweight circuit or similar. It can also be put into a warm up.
- Split Squat. A more cricket specific version of the squat as it builds strength on one leg. You can go heavy with a barbell, train the core more with a dumbbell or kettlebell, or just use bodyweight.
- Single Leg Squat. A way to learn body awareness (which prevents injury). To squat this way well you need to be both stable and mobile as you move your body.
And, er, there is not much cricketing reason to squat on a BOSU ball or Swiss ball; unless you are a clown during the week that is.
The deadlift is for the hips what the squat is for the knees; more strength, mobility and stability. It's one of the most natural movements we do: bending down and picking something off the floor. Despite that, it's rarely trained to be strong and efficient.
I think this, again, is due to the bad image of deadlifts. It's not just for bodybuilders and powerlifters bending the bar with huge weights. Heck, even granddads have to bend down to pick stuff up.
For cricket the best variations are:
- Barbell Deadlift. Hard to learn with proper technique but when mastered can strengthen the muscles in your lower back, bum and hamstrings.
- Trap Bar Deadlift. Less popular but slightly better version of the barbell deadlift. It's better because it's much harder to do with poor technique so there is less injury risk. Go heavy with good form and low reps.
- Stiff Leg Deadlift. A simple way to overload the critical 'hip extension' movement that we see in running, so good for injury prevention. Is better done as a single leg exercise (the movement is closer to running). Can be done with dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell.
It's tough to train the deadlift movement without any equipment at all, but you can train hip extension without deadlifting. If you have no access to equipment try the cook hip lift.
The single leg, straight leg deadlift done without weight can also be used as a way to groove the movement if you throw it into a warm up or light session.
In part two we look at the upper body movements that are best for cricket. Click here to get the free newsletter and not miss it.
image credit: bepositivelyfit