5 overs, 5 maidens, none for one. In case you missed out on the action from Day of the final Test between India and England, these were the figures registered by a fast bowler on a pitch that had produced eight wickets out of ten for spinners in the preceding innings. 

This certain bowler ages 38, and his name is James Anderson.

I hate to use this idiom, but fine wine and all that would be more than fitting for this modern-day legend of the game.

In a profession where fast bowlers often find themselves being pushed out of the spotlight on the ‘wrong side’ of 30, Jimmy Anderson is the highest wicket-taking pacer in Test cricket history and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

So what exactly is the fitness secret behind this longevity? We take a little bit of a deep dive into his workout and diet routines, in order to highlight some useful tips for everyone.


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Sprint and jog

According to an article on Cricket World , one of Jimmy’s most employed routines is the 23-7. Basically the 7 stands for the number of seconds you need to sprint 50 metres in. The 23 represents the duration of a jog before you resume your sprint again.

Anderson does 10 such sprints back-to-back before resting. In case you’re convinced, you too can add this routine to your cardio day. The general rule of thumb is to burn 400 calories per day , so you can track your progress via a fitness band/app and repeat the routine as many times it takes to hit your goal. 



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Focus on your back

“Looking after your back is important for any athlete,” Jimmy had stressed, in an interview with Shortlist.

“One great way to keep it strong is to balance on your bottom with your legs in the air, holding a medicine ball to your side — which you continuously rotate between your right and left side.”

He’s referring to a hybrid workout between the chair hold and the classic Russian twist, with the addition of a medicine ball. You can start with both exercises individually before finding the right form to emulate Jimmy’s routine. 

Anderson has a small gym in his house: a stationary bike, weights, just the bare necessities, according to the Economist . So it’s safe to assume that he does the basic compound back exercises like the bent row and the dead lift as well. On your weight-lifting day, you can employ these two compound exercises along with Jimmy’s medicine ball routine. If you are doing isolated lifts, then you should do atleast four variations each with four repetitions. Anderson also does a lot of other weight training in pre-season. He loves the power training such as power clean, clean and jerk. You can checkout the video above in case you also want to include the clean and jerk in your regime.

Go vegan?

“Jimmy’s a supreme athlete who, despite being 35, still has the body of a 21-year-old. I’m not sure how, though, because he’s got the worst diet of any professional athlete I know,” his former teammate Graeme Swann had once joked.

“When I first started trying to put weight on I read somewhere that [footballer] Paul Scholes once attempted to bulk up by drinking two pints of Guinness (beer) a day. So I went through a short stage of doing that and I’m still fond of the odd Guinness,” Jimmy had himself confessed back in the day.

But obviously things must have changed, because the Manchester-born lad is now looking fitter than ever. In fact, one of the probable life-choices for him was veganism .

“I actually have chatted it through with my wife actually – she’s not keen,” he told the media some 18 months ago. “I’m open-minded. I’ll give anything a go if it prolongs my career.”

The meat, fish and dairy-free lifestyle has been adopted by several prominent sportsmen across the world, including Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, and even Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli, who credit it for their performance levels and longevity.

Going dairy and meat-free means your only source of protein is plant-based diets. So if you’re planning to go down the vegan route, remember to include at least 1gm of protein per kilo of bodyweight in your daily intake 1gm of protein per kilo of bodyweight in your daily intake.

Constant challenge to self

England captain Joe Root called Jimmy “the GOAT of English cricket” after his double wicket maiden in the first Test of the series in Chennai, which propelled the visitors to a surprise win over the home favourites.  

“He’s finding ways of constantly challenging himself, and he’s getting better all the time,” Root had said in a post-match press conference.

As fitness trainers often say, the only person you should compete with was the individual you were yesterday. It’s great to have role models, but you need to be honest with yourself about your fitness goals and short-term targets. 


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Consistency is key

“Can I reach 700 (Test wickets)? Why not?” Anderson told reporters after hitting the 600-mark. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t be. I’m working hard on my fitness all the time.” He has locked his sights on the all-time record currently held by Muttiah Muralitharan.

But my takeaway from this is his focus on consistency. Experts have often stated how consistency is one of the most important factors in staying fit. For people like you and me, daily fitness activities that add up to a total of 30 or more mins per day should be done at least five days per week. One can start with four and professionals can go up to six.

So there we go. This was Jimmy, and his efforts behind the scenes. Try out what you like, ignore what you don’t.

We’ll be back soon with tips from other athletes’ fitness routines. Which sportsperson would you like us to write on next? Let us know in the comments.