CrossFit is a great activity that can be practiced by, literally anybody, regardless of the age, fitness levels and shape. Some people (including me) consider this activity somewhat as a simulation of volleyball but without a ball. Indeed …
CrossFit involves generally high pace and burst of energy within shorter period of time with several short periods of rest … And Volleyball is, pretty much, based on that same principle.
In this article, I explain exactly how CrossFit can serve as a great asset for volleyball and how you should approach it to make the most benefits out of it.
CrossFit benefits that can help with volleyball …
This activity has an element of competition which is good for motivation and accountability and also feeds into the typical volleyball environment, where winning games is important and also striving for a place in the team.
It is a fast-pace, high intensity workout that can take a lot longer than other fitness programmes because of its condensed, non-stop movements.
It may contain all the routines recommended to build both upper and lower body strength, such as burpees, squats, jumps and squats, all within a period of time, For those stretched for time, but are serious about their volleyball training, it is an ideal solution.
It is also more efficient because it burns more calories than a regular workout.
CrossFit was created to focus on major areas like stamina, strength, coordination, speed, agility, and balance, all of which elements are needed to be a good volleyball player. It achieves this by promoting both neurological and hormonal stimuli in the body.
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Common muscles used for CrossFit and volleyball …
In theory, nearly all muscle groups are involved in both.
These include lower body joints such as ankles, hips, and knees. Upper body joints including the shoulders, arms, and wrists.
The leg muscles may also be used extensively in both activities – – calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. And the upper body muscles are where a lot of the action occurs in volleyball. Particularly the arms, shoulders, biceps, and forearms.
However, the problem with CrossFit is not that it does not use or exercise some of the muscles used in volleyball, but that it does it in the wrong way.
While CrossFit helps improve aerobic capacity, volleyball is more about strength and power. With its emphasis on running, rowing, and cycling, CrossFit can actually rob ab athlete of some of the attributes that they need to play the sport effectively.
That is because it destroys hard twitch muscle fibres, promotes fat storage, hinders the ability to jump vertically, and reduces explosiveness.
CrossFit is a mismatch of different training systems, but, to get better at volleyball, athletes need a training program specifically tailored to the needs of the sport.
Volleyball players need to have extensive hip and core stability, core strength and lumbar stability, none of which is produced by CrossFit training.
In particular, one area that CrossFit fails to train properly are the shoulder muscles. Volleyball players use their shoulders repetitively for overhead serving, spiking, and blocking, meaning that many of them suffer from some form of shoulder pain.
And overuse of the rotator calf muscles cam lead to tears or rotator cuff tendinitis, especially in adult players, although some children can also be subject to these conditions..
CrossFit, due to the imbalanced nature of many of the training programmes it encapsulates, makes the risk of should injuries much higher.
You can learn more about the right approach to build muscles for volleyball!
Is CrossFit enough for your cardio training for volleyball?
Although CrossFit is promoted as a great cardio training method, this statement should not be taken at face value …
That is because it is high intensity activity and should not be undertaken by somebody who does not start with a basic level of fitness.
Doing so without building up to it, and warming up first can lead to injury.
Assuming, however, that somebody is fit enough to undergo CrossFit training, it is not ideal in terms of meeting the cardio needs for a sport like volleyball.
That is because of the intensity of its training, with sustained bursts of energy required for up to 15 or 20 minutes.
It is this prolonged duration of exercise that makes it unsuitable, Volleyball is what is known as an anaerobic sport, which short periods of high activity are followed by short periods of rest.
It would be impossible for somebody to maintain the pace required to play volleyball at the highest level without a break.
Instead, there are always short gaps between each play as the serve is reset, the ball retrieved, at the end of a set, or when a coach calls a time out.
For that reason, the ideal training is one that replicates the type of activity required to play volleyball. Exercises should be short and concentrated, such as push-ups, squats, or burpees. Where the same movements are practiced for a number of repetitions, and then the athlete rests after each one.
To borrow a comparison from running, CrossFit training can help somebody develop the stamina and strength to run a marathon, whereas what is required in volleyball is the ability to sprint a short distance very fast.
How often should you practice CrossFit as a volleyball player?
Although it may be tempting to do CrossFit on a regular basis to gain strenght for volleyball, it should be an occasional part of training and not become a routine. The problem with CrossFit is that it can become intensely tiring, and when athletes are tired, their propensity to injury increases substantially.
Volleyball players are more inclined to injury than athletes in many other sports. Statistics suggest that one in five competitive female players will suffer an ACL-based injury during the average season and 68% of them will suffer from some form of shoulder problem that will force them to miss at least one game during the course of the campaign.
CrossFit puts many of the muscles and body parts used in volleyball – shoulders, wrists, thumbs, knees, and thighs – under intense pressure, which actually can be detrimental to the aim of keeping them on the court, fit and healthy.
Some even argue that CrossFit training should be avoided at all costs. They believe that because of the intensity of many CrossFit programmes they are actually a recipe for disaster, because people are tempted to compress into a short time period exercises that should take a lot longer, and that many people will cut corners and not do them properly.
Not only does this increase the risk of injury, but it may give a misleading indication of the associated health benefits. And, because they are so draining from an energy perspective, they may rob the athlete of the ability, or the motivation, to perform when it comes to the game itself.
That is not to dismiss the benefits of CrossFit entirely, particular from a cardio-vascular viewpoint.
However, given the specific needs of volleyball players – hip and thoracic spine mobility, scapular and lumbar stability, and core strength – there are probably exercise regimes that are more suited to their needs.
If CrossFit is used at all for volleyball training, then it should be used sparingly – no more than once a week if that, although that could be increased during the off-season when there are no matches being played.
What volleyball moves will benefit the most from CrossFit?
In theory, all volleyball moves can be helped by CrossFit because it can promote general fitness and conditioning. For example, it builds leg strength, important for moving around the court, and planting the feet, the prelude to moves such as serving, hitting, and blocking.
At some point during a game of volleyball somebody will use all the muscles in their legs. The calves, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors are essential for running, but they are needed for quick, explosive jumping.
And it also, depending on the type of CrossFit training followed, because programmes vary from centre to centre, can help promote shoulder strength, a key part of any volleyball players’ armoury, used not only for spiking and blocking, but also serving, setting, and digging.
Shoulders also work with the back muscles to keep the arms from moving back when blocking the ball.
Meanwhile the wrists also have a crucial role to play, flexing or bracing to serve, receive a se, pass the ball to a team mate or to spike it in a downward direction.
Strong back muscles – for example, the scapular stabilisers around the shoulder blades, help with arm movement and stabilisation, and the latissimus dorsi muscles, which run down the back from the waist up to the shoulder blades, are useful for stabilising, as well as moving the upper body.
CrossFit can also help condition the lower and upper body joints.
Volleyball involves a lot of jumping, so flexible ankles are needed to help somebody pivot and quickly turn without picking-up an injury. And the running involved requires flexible hips, knees and ankles enabling somebody to pick up and put down their legs where they want them.
And when somebody crouches down and explodes upwards to spike the ball, those same lower body joints are required.
Final Thoughts …
I honestly believe that this article is very important for people who practice volleyball but don’t really like working much on their physical shape as this could be perceived somewhat boring …
Indeed, CrossFit is definitely a FUN activity that involves in most cases a group of highly motivated and engaged people!
This could serve as a great temporary alternative to get in shape for volleyball.