Periodisation for Cricket: How we structure our Strength and Conditioning programmes
In the Strength and conditioning (S&C) world, there is a process called periodisation which involves splitting up a training year into smaller, more manageable chunks with the goal of consistently creating positive long-term physical adaptations. There are three terms used in periodisation when we talk about split up a training year:
A macrocycle is the big block. In cricket, this is the whole year but for say an Olympic athlete, they will work off 2 or 4-year macrocycles. In the UK, our macrocycle begins at the start of October and finishes at the end of the following September, matching the UK Cricketing calendar.
Within one macrocycle, you will have multiple mesocycles which are weeks-months long. These are commonly referred to as training phases but the technical name is a mesocycle. Within each mesocycle, you will have a slightly different focus to keep you moving in the right direction within the macrocycle. In Cricket, we typically see three big mesocycles. Off-season, pre-season and the competitive phase.
Finally, mesocycles are made up of multiple microcycles which are usually 4-6 weeks long. Within each microcycle, volume and intensity will change but the exercises our usually kept the same to allow progression. our programmes, we use an undulating method of periodisation whereby a 4-week microcycle, 3 of which see an increase in volume followed by a de-load week.
Reverse engineering from a needs analysis
Reverse engineering involves looking at what you need to perform on a cricket field first.
This allows us to look at the big picture first, working backwards from a “Needs Analysis” for your position. On the Cricfit app, we regularly change the contents of our members' fitness training in each training phase to avoid them hitting a wall in their S&C. You can click the links to view a needs analysis for bowlers, batters and keepers.
Periodisation factors to consider
Periodisation is a huge topic in itself so like all of our articles, we will now break down the parts you need to understand so that you can get the most out of your cricket fitness training.
The first thing to consider for your S&C programme is how often you are training. This will change depending on your programme but it is likely to be anywhere between 1-5 times per week. If you are new to training then it will be less and if you are experienced, it will be more. The important thing to remember here is that keeping your training frequency nice and stable over a long period of time is where you will find the biggest improvements. Hopping between training 5 times one week and none the next won’t allow you to progressively overload your body. Nail down how much training you can fit into your life and commit to it!
In an ideal world, you would be training in some form most days and possibly even multiple times in a day. However, our members are mostly amateur cricketers with jobs, school, children and other hobbies so time is the number one limiting factor in training frequency. All of our programmes cater for this and set a realistic amount for you to do in a week.
Training volume & intensity
With frequency staying nice and stable, we vary volume and intensity over time to expose your body to different stimuli so that it continues to adapt! Training volume refers to the amount of work you are doing within your sessions and training intensity refers to how hard you are having to push yourself during your sessions. Intensity doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be sweating and panting. For example, a 1 rep max on your bench press would be an intensity of 100% but you are unlikely to sweat from this. Don’t mistake high-intensity training for high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Each month, you will enter a different phase of training where your exercises will change. This keeps it nice and fresh but we also vary volume and intensity dependent on 3 main goals throughout the year:
Phases 1-3 | Strength focus
The first thing we want to build is your strength as this gives us a solid foundation from which to build you as an athlete. To build strength, first we will want to target muscle growth, known as hypertrophy. This is going to require high volume training (8-15 reps). Then the focus will turn to producing large amounts of force so intensity will gradually increase and volume will decrease. Don’t worry about this making you slow or “too bulky” as we aren’t making you a bodybuilder. You can click here to read an article on why weights don’t make you slow.
Phases 4-6 | Power focus
Next, we want to focus on your rate of force development. The reason for building strength first is to increase your ability to produce large amounts of force, but given the short duration of cricketing actions, the ability to apply this force rapidly is crucial for performance. This means we train at a high intensity and reduce the volume to allow this to happen. Throughout this phase, you will still be building strength and growing muscle but that is no longer our primary objective.
Maintenance focus: Ideally, your power phase should lead directly into the season with you at your peak physical ability. The goal is then to maintain all your gains from the pre-season without creating fatigue or soreness and impacting your cricket performance. To do this, we keep intensity high and keep volume nice and low. The body is very clever and as long as you don’t stop training completely, you can maintain your gains throughout the season without needing to smash your body in the gym.
To conclude, periodisation is the process of breaking up a training period into smaller phases and then altering certain factors to create positive physical adaptations. In all of our Cricket fitness programmes, the periodisation is taken care of with your exercises, sets and reps all set for you. All you need to do is follow along on the Cricfit app! The ideal time to start our monthly subscription programmes is at the start of your macrocycle but if you are starting at a different stage, just let us know and we can tweak your programme.