Pack on an arsenal of powerful muscle groups that will make you a winner even before you hit the sand.
By Tim Rigby, MA
It’s summertime and this is the time of year when you’re most likely to ask yourself if you’re ready for the beach, lake or river. But we’re not talking about lying motionless on the sand with your iPod cranked to Deadmau5; we’re talking about the opportunity to show how functional your muscle truly are with a game or two of beach volleyball.
The game seems simple, doesn’t it? Serve the ball, hit it back over and defend at the net. Along the way, there’s some running involved, but the court is small, so it can’t be that tough, right? Think again. There’s a very good chance that your opponents have done their homework—or, at least, enough weight training—and developed strong, explosive actions from their legs, shoulders and arms that may give them a marked advantage over you.
Resistance Training Works
They say that success is when preparation meets opportunity. If you, therefore, “prepare” yourself for success in volleyball, that opportunity will arise when you step on the court. If you perform several specific weight training moves, you can take advantage of an easy but decided edge over your opponents.
Don’t believe us? “Strength training through weight lifting is a critical developmental factor for volleyball players at all levels,” says Glenn Hoag, head coach of the Canadian men’s national volleyball team. “From the professional level and the national team right through the ranks of recreational players, strength training is used for many reasons, including gains in power and speed, joint stability, injury prevention and overall fitness level.”
So, it’s easy to appreciate that you’re more likely to win in volleyball if you put in due time at the gym. Players at all levels are becoming increasingly faster and stronger—and this is no accident. “The demands of the sport are increasing, as is the importance of a good balance between technique and strength development for volleyball players,” says Hoag.
Here, Reps! presents a battery of resistance training moves that can hold the key to your success in beach volleyball.
Volleyball ‘Power’ Workout
Standing French Press
Dumbbell Front Raise
*Take no more than a 30-second rest between sets to help develop your endurance threshold
Standing French Press
The volleyball actions of spiking and serving the ball are forceful actions that require power from your triceps. The French press mimics these actions nicely and isolates the long head of your triceps because your arms are positioned away from your sides. Developing this muscle will help you pack a serious punch to the ball.
Set-Up: Stand upright, in a shoulder width stance for stability, with your knees slightly bent. Using an overhand grip, with your hands slightly narrower than shoulder width, hold a light dumbbell above your head, arms fully extended.
Action: Bend your elbows and lower the bar directly behind your head in a controlled manner to avoid injury. Stop when you’ve lowered the dumbbell about 90 degrees and feel the stretch in your triceps in the bottom position. Raise the bar back overhead by pressing with your triceps, keeping all other muscle groups inactive.
Dumbbell Front Raise
Blocking shots by defending at the net comprises much of volleyball. Once you’ve jumped, it’s critical to get a good arm extension and to hold your ground while your opponent fires the ball straight at you. Strong anterior (front) shoulders are a tremendous defensive asset.
Set-up: Stand upright, in a shoulder width stance for stability, with your knees slightly bent. Grasp a pair of dumbbells using an overhand grip in each hand and let your arms so that dumbbells rest at thigh level.
Action: Inhale slightly and raise the dumbbells immediately in front of you. A good tip is to keep your elbows slightly bent to reduce strain on the joints. Raise the weights until your arms are parallel to the ground and hold for a count of one. Lower the weights slowly in a controlled manner back to the start position. Make sure that the weight isn’t too heavy to cause you to swing the dumbbells upward via momentum.
The essence of volleyball is jumping ability—not just straight up but also side to side and sometimes even rearkward. Dumbbell lunges serve to hit your quads, hamstrings and glutes—the biggest three muscle groups involved in all-around jumping proficiency.
Set-up: Stand with your feet hip width apart, knees soft, and hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
Action: Take a big step forward with your left leg, bending both knees and lunging toward the ground with your chest lifted and your shoulders back. When your left thigh comes parallel to the ground and your right knee is nearly touching the ground, push off your right foot and straighten both legs, bringing your right foot up to meet your left in a standing position once more. Repeat alternating legs.
Simple physics dictates that you can’t jump up if you don’t squat down first. This move offers a great replication of the jumping action in volleyball but goes even deeper—you’ll sink down far enough to develop fast-twitch fibers in your quads, hamstrings and glutes that will help you soar higher when you actually jump in play.
Set-up: Stand up straight, with your chin up and hands holding dumbbells at your sides. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Action: Bend your knees about 45 degrees as you lower yourself into the bottom position—do not allow your toes to float beyond the plane of your toes. Press forcefully with your quads and explode vertically. As you’re rising, keep your spine straight and the weights at your sides. This action mirrors motions where you’re defending at the net and blocking a shot.
Regardless of whether you play in teams of two, four or even six players, the concept of volleyball is simple: to keep the ball in the air. To do this, you’re going to have to move explosively in every direction. Mountain climbers are performed with speed and power that can help you greatly in volleyball.
Set-up: Assume a traditional push-up position, with your back flat and arms spread parallel to your shoulder line. With this move, your head will be facing down in a comfortable position. Bring your right knee up toward your chin.
Action: Imagine that you’re scaling a wall but simply in a rotated position. Both of your legs will pump here simultaneously. Bring your left knee in toward your chin as you swing your right knee back behind you. Your lower body will feel like a pair of pistons firing alternately. Make sure to generate enough power from the pushing action so that you don’t scrape the floor with your toes.