During a break in the filming of Kevin Pietersen's coaching course, KP and I got to chatting about fitness training.
He said he spent a lot of his gym time working on his core. It wasn’t just so he could look good on the beach between matches. He knows instinctively that the core is crucial to batting power.
That’s because timing and power with the bat are all based on the ability to transfer your weight from the ground, through your body and into the ball.
A weak core means a weak technique.
And worse, a weak core means your lower back has to do more work, increasing your chances of injury.
But there are a lot of myths about core training, so what kind of exercises should you do if you want to make sure your core is up to the job?
Here are the top exercises recommended by strength coaches to professional cricketers that give you the best functional transfer to the pitch. Get them into your training plan today.
You can put core training into 4 main categories. Make sure you train each one at least once a week.
1. Posterior core: Improving back health
Use deadlift variations with immaculate form. You don’t need to lift huge weights, making sure you move in that pattern regularly is more important.
Here are some technical pointers for beginners.
2. Rotation: Moving in the right place
Batting involves a lot of rotation when playing shots. So these exercises teach you to keep your lower back untwisted and move through the t-spine.
There are several variations but the one I like best is the Pallof - or Anti-Rotation - Press.
3. Anterior Core: Keeping it old fashioned
The front of the 4 ‘sides’ of your core gets the most attention because it’s what people train most often with sit-ups, crunches and other variations.
But a better way are planks because they carry all the benefits of training the anterior core without the pain that traditional crunches can cause.
An alternative to this is the Ab Wheel, the thing you see advertised on TV for awesome abs. In fact it’s a very simple and effective way of training the anterior core. So is the reverse crunch.
4. Lateral Core: Finishing the picture
The side, or lateral, core is important to complete the picture of a 4 sided core lacking any weak areas.
One of the current favourites is the one arm overhead press. It combines upper body pushing while forcing you to stabilise with your lateral core. The key here is not huge weight, but perfect form. Do it from a kneeling position to activate the core even further and add a shrug to strengthen your traps to help with throwing.
Core training can get complex, but if you keep it to these 4 simple categories and combine it with properly planned strength training you know you have your fitness bases covered, and you can get back to scoring runs.