How to Build Your Muscles for Volleyball? (With Examples)

how to build muscle for volleyball

Volleyball is a very demanding sport when it comes to muscle usage! Almost all your muscles need to be well in shape to support the intensity that comes with volleyball …

That’s why it is extremely important to develop the right process to build up those muscles properly.

This article teaches you the muscles you should focus on the most as well as the training routine you should opt for to strengthen those muscles.

What muscles should you train for volleyball?

volleyball muscles

Muscles that are affected by volleyball are diverse. Those most important ones are …

  • Upper legs and hips (gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps).
  • Muscles of the lower legs (gastrocnemius, soleus, anterior tibialis).
  • Shoulders (deltoids and the rotator cuff).
  • Muscles of the upper arms (biceps, triceps, wrist flexors and extensors) and forearm.
  • The core muscles (rectus abdominus, obliques and spinal erectors).

These are the main muscles volleyball players use during exercises and during actual games. It is highly recommended to focus your conditioning and strength training around those muscles …

That’s what I am about to address below!

Quick Recommendation: To take your overall muscle building to the next level, then I highly recommend checking this comprehensive book. It addresses all what I’ve said but in a very detailed and easy to understand way.

How to train your muscles for volleyball?

The upper legs and hips

To train those parts, below are some helpful exercises …

  • Simple squats – It is best to do 10-15 repetitions of squats.
  • Side lunges – 12 to 16 repetitions.
  • Fire hydrants – For each leg do 10 repetitions, starting with the right leg.
  • Wall sits – hold in that position for 20-30 seconds, then go up in the starting position. Gradually work towards a full minute of wall sitting.

The muscles of the lower legs

These muscles include the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the anterior tibialis.

  • Double leg calf rise – this is the classic calf strengthening exercise, and impacts the gastrocnemius and soleus.
  • Single leg calf rise – a better, but tougher variant of the double leg calf rise. This one strengthens the calf even more. As the name says it is a single leg calf rise, so it puts your weight on one leg and strengthens it even more.
  • Running – Running is mainly good for your stamina, but it also helps you build your lower muscles.
  • Seated calf rise – Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your knees aligned with your feet. Lean forward and put your hand on your thighs (Learn about importance of thighs in volleyball). Next put pressure and force on your knees effectively giving resistance to your feet, then start raising your heels as high as possible, and lower them slowly, repeat at least 15 times.

The muscles of the shoulders

These muscles include the deltoids and the rotator cuff.

  • Pushups – Now these are not the first thing that comes to your mind when you want to build shoulder muscles. They are good for the arm muscles too, but their role in building of shoulder muscles is not be underestimated. There are variants of pushups you could do (incline pushups, push-back pushups, pike pushup, diamond pushups, wide pushups and cross-body pushups)
  • The crab walk – The crab walk is somewhat funny, but it gets the job done when it comes to muscle building. The crab walk helps with other muscles as well, but the muscles of the shoulders are its main focus.
  • Prone T – The prone T exercise is meant to improve the stability of your shoulders. Lay down on your belly, widen your arms and make a T shape with your body. Next start raising your arms above your body (There is a variant of this exercise called prone Y or prone V, which is basically the same, but your arms need to be lateral, not horizontal)

The muscles of the upper arms and the forearms

These muscles include the biceps, the triceps, the wrist flexors and the wrist extensors. The exercises for these muscles are as follows.

  • Arm circles – This exercise can be regarded as an arm warm up, but it utilizes all the muscles in your arms.
  • Triceps dips – This exercise can help you a lot when it comes to building up your triceps. It only uses your body weight, and you only need a chair or a bench.
  • Plank sidewalk – a plank stance is required for this one. Stand in a plank stance, and start moving from one side to another with your legs and arms simultaneously. Do this for one minute.

You can learn more about the best practices to build upper body strenght for volleyball!

The core muscles

These muscles include the rectus abdominus, the obliques and the spinal erectors.

  • High plank – stand in a high plank, meaning that your arms need to be straight. The high plank activates all your muscles, but the core ones especially. Try holding it for one minute at first, gradually working it up.
  • Low plank – The low plank is a hard one to do, especially if you are new to volleyball. It is done just as the high plank but with your arms bent in a 90 degree angle. Just as the high plank, try holding it at least one minute.
  • Plank knee crosses – These crosses are done from a plank stance, and are intended to work on your lower abdomen muscles. Stand in a plank and start kicking your legs towards your chest, one leg at a time.

How much weight should lift for volleyball?

When it comes to lifting weights and building up muscle mass for volleyball, it is important to note that not much weight is needed in order to build sustainable muscle mass for volleyball.

When you do the exercises that we have listed above, you do them with your own weight, which is important since that weight is natural. It is recommended for a player to be able to withstand his own weight.

Volleyball is a sport that requires agility, and that being the case volleyball players need to focus on lifting half their body size at max, since low weights and more reps produce definition, which helps with agility, strength and endurance.

Heavy weights can & will help your overall muscle mass, but in return can make you more sluggish, which is not suitable for volleyball.

It is best to lift low to medium sized weights when it comes to volleyball strength and endurance. The definition you may gain from lifting low to medium sized weights can significantly help your overall abilities.

How to train your muscles for volleyball at home?

All exercises that I’ve mentioned above could be done at the comfort of your home, in your room or in your back yard.

Below are the exercises you should focus on the most (Those were inspired from this Book that I highly recommend checking) …

Pushups – Pushups build the shoulder muscles and strengthen the arm muscles. They are good for everyday practices and help your endurance.

Prone T and prone Y – These exercises are meant to build up the muscles of your shoulders. It is recommended that you do them with some wrist weights (Like these for example). They’ll help you put additional pressure on your arms.

Pull ups – Pull ups are just like pushups the traditional home workout exercise. You can do them anywhere where you find suitable to pull yourself upwards, or if you have the pull up bar at home.

Pull ups help your arms, forearms and core muscles the most, but they also have an effect on nearly the whole body. So they are a good way to build muscles at home.

Dead hangs – Dead hanging is also done on the pull up bar, or at any other suitable place where you can hang yourself. This helps improve grip strength and is easier than pull ups. Also it helps your muscles stretch.

What adjustment should you do for beach volleyball?

Beach volleyball activates pretty much the same muscles as indoor volleyball. It is worth noting that beach volleyball however has an impact on some muscles more than indoor volleyball has.

The muscles beach volleyball hits the most are the muscle of the lower legs or the muscles of the calf if you want. It impacts them the most because of the sand, which is a terrain that is uneven, while the indoor terrain is solid.

That being said, beach volleyball players will need to focus more on the other parts of the body than on the lower legs. That however does not mean that they do not need to focus on the legs when practicing.

Is volleyball good for muscles overall?

When playing volleyball you are activating all your muscles, from the muscles of the arms, across the core muscles to the upper and lower leg muscles.

When you practice, all those muscles get a chance to develop equally, while in the gym you develop a set of muscles or two during one exercise.

So yes, volleyball is a sport that lets you develop all your muscles simultaneously, and is good for muscle development in general.

Are squats good for volleyball?

Squats activate the muscles of the upper legs and hips, the gluteals, the hamstrings and the quadriceps.

These three muscles are very important for volleyball players, simply because volleyball players need to jump often and jumping can be effective if you have strong leg muscles.

Squatting is recommended to be done on every exercise at least 15 to 20 reps per exercise, of course, if you want to build the muscles faster and more efficiently you can gradually increase the number of reps per exercise.

Final Thoughts …

If you are a beginner, then I highly recommend not focusing too much on building muscles for volleyball. Indeed, this will come with the territory …

Indeed, focus more on building the needed skills to be good at the sport and as you go, you will find out that your muscles are getting up to speed and then (why not) you can dedicate specific sessions where you solely focus on building your muscular mass based on the info I’ve provided above!

Finally, you can check this helpful article addressing the most important body parts used in volleyball! I think you will find that interesting …

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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