Strength Training for Cricket

Cricket – Some Programming Thoughts

What is the best sets and reps scheme to use?

Should I do 3 sets?

Or should I do more?

Is it best to do higher reps? Or should I stick to less reps and more weight?

3 sets of 10? 5 sets of 5? What about rest times?

Alright, lets slow down with the questions, and stick to the sets and reps question for now. In this introductory article on sets and reps, we will hopefully make this question a little clearer and point you in the right direction with what you should be doing with your strength training.

The short answer to the question ‘which sets and reps scheme is the best for strength training for cricket’ is “it depends.” Pretty pathetic answer right? Ok, lets expand on this and give examples on the types of things that this depends on.

Firstly, internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin considers repetitions completed as the single most important acute exercise variable. This is largely because the repetitions performed will determine other key variables (like how many sets you do and how much rest time you get.) There are various different ways to program and combine sets, reps, weight used and rest times, however generally speaking;

  • The heavier the weight (relative to your own ability) the lower the reps, and the higher the rest time and sets, and
  • The lower the weight the higher the reps, and the lower the rest times and number of sets.

So with that general outline in mind, what are some of the things that will influence what the best sets and reps scheme are?

Experience Level

If you are a beginner, then strength training is largely about learning movements correctly, rather than going overboard with the weight or training volume. Of course there are different definitions of beginner, but generally if you haven’t had a full year of consistent strength training experience with a certain exercise or technique, you are a beginner. As a beginner, you should not be moving weights that are any more than a moderate weight. As a result, the general sets and reps range best suited, is the standard 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions. Sets of 8 are the best general repetition amount for beginners, as they allow for you to learn correct form with a reasonable level of repetitions being performed, and this reasonable amount of repetitions allows for a degree of training adaptions to occur in the process. This range will also allow you to build up the weight used somewhat, and experience fatigue in the later stages of the set. Also important to note here, is that you may have a little experience with certain exercises or methods, yet be a complete beginner with others. This is a ‘generally speaking’ approach with various shades of grey, not black and white.

The more experienced you are, and the more used to strength training that your body is, the more variation you will require in order to continue to stimulate a response from your body. If you have been doing the same number of sets and reps for years, it is highly likely that you have stagnated and haven’t improved your numbers much in recent times. This is because this monotonous way of training is no longer stimulating the body. Whilst giving detailed examples is beyond the scope of this article, once you are a more experienced lifter, you will require a little more detail than the simple 3 sets of 10 or even 5 sets of 5 – more planning and detail is required.


There are a huge number of potential goals that you may have, and each one will take on a different priority. However, for simplicity’s sake, lets say that there are 2 main goals that you can choose from – more size or more strength, or some combination of the 2, where one takes more importance than the other. When more maximal strength in a particular movement is the goal, your repetition count will be lower and the weight lifted will be heaver – sets of 3 – 6 for example. When size is the goal, repetition counts must be higher – at least 8, and as a result the general weight lifted will be less.

This is only a very general outline, as of course in cricket, we don’t just want to put on size for size’s sake, but rather if we are putting on some size, also have a proportional increase in genuine strength and power. So programming need not necessarily be 3 or 4 sets of 10 when aiming at size, but rather be more sets of low reps at a heavy weight – 6 or 7 sets of 3-5 reps, in order to get the total volume up – meaning you will be lifting in ‘strength’ ranges, but also stimulating size.

Such programming can take on more detailed and technical wave cycles too – where you perform sets of varying weights and reps in the same workout.

Time of the year (periodisation)

So you can see that your primary goal will influence your sets and reps scheme, and of course, this goal, as well as the sets and reps employed, will also vary over the space of a year (periodisation) meaning you will change from one sets and reps scheme to another over the course of the year.

We have spoken about peridoisation elsewhere. But in short, sets and reps should vary throughout the year to continue to stimulate the body, and produce a response, as well as avoid monotony.

Are you in a base conditioning phase, or strength and power phase?

Is it pre-season or during the season?

The answer to simple questions like this will all impact what sets and reps, and total volume you should be doing. This is something that was covered in detail and programmed in Strength & Power Training for Cricket.

The specific exercise

Certain exercises lend themselves more to higher weights , volume and speeds than others, or more to the point are generally programmed more often for one or the other. For example, the large compound lifts like squats and deadlifts allow for more maximal lifts than a single leg deadlift or lateral lunge which will be more movement quality and repetition based generally speaking.


This will also tie in closely with what the goals of a certain exercise are, or your own personal reason for doing an exercise, as well as what time of the year it is too.

So even just in this brief introduction which is aimed to get you thinking more broadly about the question, you can see there is a fair bit more to it then simply ‘which is best.’

Cricket Athlete