Exercises for Cricket: A guide to the Upper Body
The upper body shouldn't be underestimated for cricket players. Upper body strength is correlated with both ball and bat speed and by functioning well through your upper half, you will be able to move better allowing your technique to improve with both bat and ball.
Upper body anatomy & function
The anterior chain on the upper body refers to the muscles located on the front side of the torso, including the chest, shoulders, and upper abdomen. Here are some of the main muscles that make up the anterior chain:
This is the large muscle that makes up the bulk of the chest. It has two portions, the clavicular head and the sternal head, and is responsible for movements like pushing and horizontal adduction of the arm.
These are the muscles that form the rounded shape of the shoulders. There are three parts to the deltoid: the anterior (front), middle, and posterior (rear) heads. The anterior head is responsible for flexing the arm and horizontal adduction.
The biceps are located on the front of the upper arm and are responsible for flexing the elbow and supinating the forearm.
This is the muscle that runs down the front of the abdomen and is responsible for flexing the trunk, as in a sit-up or crunch.
These muscles run diagonally along the sides of the abdomen and are responsible for rotating the trunk and bending it laterally.
This muscle is located on the side of the chest and is responsible for protracting the scapula (bringing it forward) and assisting in upward rotation of the scapula.
This is the muscle that runs from the base of the skull to the sternum and clavicle. It is responsible for rotating and flexing the head and neck.
These are just some of the main muscles that make up the anterior chain of the upper body. Strengthening these muscles can improve posture, increase upper body strength and stability.
The posterior chain on the upper body refers to the muscles located on the back side of the torso, including the upper and lower back, shoulders, and neck. Here are some of the main muscles that make up the posterior chain:
This is a large muscle that covers the upper back and neck. It is responsible for scapular elevation, depression, retraction, and upward rotation.
These are two muscles located in the upper back that are responsible for scapular retraction and downward rotation.
This is the largest muscle in the back and is responsible for adduction, extension, and internal rotation of the arm.
These are a group of muscles that run along the spine from the sacrum to the base of the skull. They are responsible for extension, lateral flexion, and rotation of the spine.
These are the muscles located on the back of the shoulders and are responsible for extension, horizontal abduction, and external rotation of the arm.
The triceps are located on the back of the upper arm and are responsible for extension of the elbow.
Strengthening the muscles of the posterior chain can improve posture, increase upper body strength and stability, and help prevent or alleviate back pain.
Why is the upper body an important area for Cricket players to train?
The upper body muscles mentioned above work as a whole to allow the body to produce the following movement.
Pushing movements are dominated by the anterior chain, acting as our accelerator. When we think of most cricketing actions, we need to throw/bowl the ball or swing the bat in front of our body. The anterior chain on the upper body allows us to increase the speed at which we can complete these actions.
Pulling actions are dominated by the posterior chain, acting as our break. Moving quickly is no good if you can’t slow down, so a strong posterior chain is vital in order to firstly move quickly but secondly, do it safely. If your posterior chain isn’t strong, then your body simply won’t let the front side move quickly into a position it knows it’s unable to control.
The muscles down the side of our torso dominate here but when rotating, the upper body truly comes as a full package. Rotation through the upper body is the most important plane of movement for cricketers to train with it being how we generate a load of our force. We are also normally side on with our lower body technically to where the ball is coming from, or travelling towards, meaning that upper body rotation is vital to access or deliver the ball.
4 upper body strength exercises for Cricketers
Below are 4 of our favourite upper body strength exercises with a short description. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
Alternate chest press
A twist on the commonly used chest press, keep one dumbbell up whilst you lower the other. Forcing the arms to work independently makes it more challenging and you’re also have to switch on your core to avoid falling off the bench!
The landmine press is the most shoulder friendly pressing exercise with the 45 degree angle of the push. A great exercise for using your whole body with a solid base required. Make sure the bar travels in a straight line.
Lat pull down
Build those wings with a lat pull down. The video shows a banded variation with a rotation through the movement. Focus on the tempo in this movement, moving down for 1 second, pausing for 2 seconds and controlling the movement up for 3 seconds.
TRX reverse pull
Our favourite upper body pulling movement with it once again requires the core and glutes to switch on. Maintain the same tempo as we have just mentioned above and resist poking your neck forward!