Spike your way to success with these 11 exercises.
You need to jump high and dive hard if you want to win on the volleyball court, and that takes strength, agility and endurance. Developing the necessary athleticism usually requires time spent training both on and off the court, and you may benefit from a workout routine designed specifically for volleyball.
In addition to strength training and cardio exercises, you can also benefit from working mobility movements and stretching into your routine. Focusing on improving your mobility can reduce the risk of injury during a match and help you use your joints’ full range of motion.
The following moves can help physically prime you to win big on the court.
1. Star jump – Quadriceps, calves, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders
The star jump can help you leap higher and with more control to hit those hard-to-reach shots.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms at your sides. Sink halfway down into a squat, and then push off the ground to jump as high as possible. As you rise, fully extend your arms and legs away from your body as though they were points on a star. Pull your limbs back toward your body and bend your knees as you land.
2. Side lunge – Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, core
The side lunge can help develop your leg muscles so you can dig low-flying balls.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend to your knees. Keeping your body low, take a step to the right. Keep your left foot planted and allow your left leg to extend as you sit back and bend your right knee. Keep your toes facing forward and do not arch your back. Push off with your right foot to return to the starting position, and then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Dumbbell row – Shoulders, biceps, lats, middle back
The dumbbell row will help strengthen your upper body for more powerful spikes and returns.
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward, keeping your back straight. Extend your arms toward the floor, keeping the weights close to your legs. Flex your elbows and pull the weights up toward your chest until your upper arms are in line with your shoulders. Your elbows should be at approximately a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower the weights to the starting position. Repeat for the chosen number of repetitions.
4. One-arm kettlebell push press – Shoulders, calves, quadriceps, triceps, core, glutes
This compound movement works double duty by using muscles in your upper and lower body.
Place a kettlebell on the ground by your right foot. Crouch down while keeping your back straight and pick up the kettlebell in your right hand. Extend your body upward by pressing through your legs and hips. With your elbow bent in a curl position, hold the kettlebell against your shoulder. Dip your body slightly and then propel yourself up, pressing the kettlebell over your head until your arm is fully extended. Lower the weight and repeat for the desired number of repetitions, and then do the same on the opposite side.
5. Incline hammer curls – Biceps
Strengthening your biceps can help power volleyball moves like the dig.
Sit at an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights with your arms extended toward the floor with a neutral grip, as though you were holding a hammer. Flex your arms at the elbow while keeping your upper arm still. Bring the weights to your chest and then slowly lower to the starting position.
6. Bench dips – Triceps, chest, shoulders
This movement can strengthen the muscles involved in moves like the serve and spike.
Sit on the long side of a bench and grip the edge with both hands. Walk your feet away from the bench and press up until your arms are fully extended under you and your legs are straight. Your body should form a triangle with the bench and floor. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper and lower arms form a 90 degree angle. Hold the position for a moment, and then press up with your arms until they are fully extended again. Repeat this movement for the chosen number of repetitions. Modify this movement by bringing your feet closer to your body and bending your knees.
7. Wall ball – Hand-eye coordination and reaction speed
This drill can get your heart pumping and improve your ability to react to a speeding volleyball.
Similar to racquetball, this exercise works best in a gymnasium or outdoors where you have plenty of room to move around. Using a ball that you can hold in one hand – a tennis, lacrosse, or small medicine ball will do – stand approximately ten feet away from a high wall. Throw the ball against the wall and catch it with two hands. Once you’ve acclimated to doing that, progress to catching the ball with only your dominant hand, and finally with only your non-dominant hand. You can substitute a partner for the wall if you choose.
8. Quick-feet ladder drill – Speed
This agility-building drill can help you move nimbly across the sand or indoor court.
Place a training ladder – usually made of rope or light plastic – on the ground. If you do not have a ladder, you can use floor tiles or other markers as your reference points, as long as they are spaced in approximately one-foot increments. Stand next to the ladder and, moving sideways, step in and out of the ladder rungs as quickly as you can until you are at the other end. Once you are at the end, go the opposite direction. You can also practice this drill moving forward and backward.
9. Elliptical – Cardiovascular conditioning
After all of the jumping involved in volleyball, give your joints a break by building endurance on the elliptical. If you’re using an elliptical with an incline, choose a program that cycles through a range of ramp heights. Switching the incline throughout your workout will shift which muscles are exerting the most effort and make your training session better rounded.
Flexibility and Mobility
10. Forward hand walks with a mountain climber twist – Shoulders, hamstrings, calves, lower back
This three-dimensional movement can help improve your shoulder mobility and stretch out your legs and back.
Lean forward from a standing position and place both of your hands on the floor in front of you. Keep your core engaged and your legs straight as you slowly walk your hands away from your feet.
Once you’ve reached a plank position, pull your right leg forward, twisting your hips to bring your knee as close to your left elbow as possible. Don’t let your foot touch the ground. Return to a plank position and repeat the mountain climber twist movement with your left leg. Perform 1-5 reps to each side.
Then, return to the plank position and take tiny steps to walk your feet forward until you’re back in the original starting position. Repeat this inchworm-like movement with the mountain climber twists for the desired amount of time.
11. Forward bend with shoulder stretch – Hamstrings, shoulders
This deep stretch can improve your shoulder mobility and stretch out your hamstrings.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Reach your arms behind you and clasp your hands together at your lower back or hold an elastic band, yoga strap or towel in your hands. Slowly fold your body forward, bending your knees if necessary, and rolling your shoulders back with shoulder blades squeezed together, raise your hands off your lower back as high as comfortable. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
As you train for volleyball, keep your focus on improving your strength, agility and endurance. By integrating these recommended exercises into your training regimen, you’ll be one step closer to being king or queen of the volleyball court.
Looking for more in-depth training? Sign up for small group training or a one-on-one session. A certified personal trainer can lead you through a routine specifically designed to help you improve your fitness for volleyball. And have fun on the court!