Often when I recommend resistance training to bowlers, they mention their fear of ruining their swings from lifting weights. It seems to me that there are quite a few bowlers out there that have gone on a fitness binge and changed their physical game for the worse. I commonly hear that “bulking up” makes a bowler more mechanical instead of allowing for a free swing.
I do not believe that resistance training will harm your swing, unless you are focusing on the wrong exercises in your program. There are optimal ways to train the upper body to improve health in the joints and maintain range of motion and we’ll talk about how in this article.
Body building programs
I’ve noticed that when most bowlers dive into working out, they either focus too much on physique and get into body building-style programs, or they focus on weight loss and do high intensity workouts, either from watching videos or attending workout classes.
When I refer to body building-style programs here, I’m talking about workouts that have many targeted exercises for muscle groups and that usually use a high volume of reps (sets of 8 to 15+ reps are common). These programs are designed to create muscle fiber growth, or hypertrophy. A typical rule of thumb is that 8 to 12 reps is an ideal range for muscle hypertrophy, although many popular 5 x 5, 6 x 5, or 10 x 3 programs (sets x reps) have been very successful amongst body builders because of their high volumes.
When I work with athletes, we do often include a period of hypertrophy training in their programming during the pre-season / preparatory phase. As athletes go from pre-season / preparatory phase to in-season, the focus becomes strength. During this phase, the rep schemes decrease as weight lifted increases. During peak and power phases, the reps will decrease to less than 4 reps per set.
As I mentioned above, I frequently have bowlers come to me saying they began lifting weights and have become more mechanical. They feel a negative impact on ...
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