Are you eager to improve your performance on the volleyball court but find yourself without access to a gym?
Fear not, because utilizing bodyweight exercises can be your game-changer, helping you to continue your physical development – no equipment necessary.
In volleyball, the agility, strength, and flexibility that can come from bodyweight training can often be just as good as the benefits garnered from weight training with barbells and dumbbells.
By leveraging the weight of your own body to train, you not only make the process cost-effective but also highly adaptable to your surroundings — be it your living room, backyard, or a local park.
Best Bodyweight Exercises for Volleyball Players
Here they are, in no particular order, my 10 favorite bodyweight exercises for volleyball players.
Stick around to the end because I put these 10 exercises into a workout circuit that you can try out right now.
Why: Bodyweight Squats build powerful quadriceps and hamstrings, enhancing your jumping ability, which is a vital skill for volleyball players. This exercise also helps in improving balance and stability.
- Perform your bodyweight squat by placing feet shoulder width apart, toes straight ahead or slightly pointed out.
- Squat down by first hinging the hips back and then bending the knees and dropping the hips straight down.
- Chest should stay up, eyes focused straight ahead.
- Feet should remain flat on the floor with weight evenly distributed between the heel and ball of the foot.
- Stand tall by pushing the feet ‘through the floor’, driving the hips up and the shoulders tall.
Why: Incorporating Burpees into your routine can help in building endurance and agility. This full-body movement is also great for simulating the quick movements required during a volleyball game.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides.
- Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and hips. Place your hands on the ground in front of you, just outside shoulder-width apart.
- Jump your feet back into a plank position, with your hands still on the ground and your body in a straight line.
- Do a push-up by lowering your chest towards the ground, then pressing back up to the plank position.
- Jump your feet back towards your hands, then stand (or jump) up and reach your arms overhead.
Why: Planks are instrumental in building a strong core which is the powerhouse for almost every move in volleyball, be it serving, spiking, or diving for a save.
- Start on the ground on your stomach.
- Assume a push-up like position on your elbows and toes. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders.
- Position your body in a straight line from the shoulders through the hips, knees and ankles.
- Brace the core tight. (As if you’re going to be punched in the stomach)
- Do not let the body slouch to the ground nor push the hips up high in the air.
Why: Push-Ups focus on building strength in your upper body, enhancing your spiking power and your defensive abilities on the court.
Push-Ups aren’t just one of my favorite bodyweight exercises, they are one of my favorite upper-body exercises for volleyball players, period.
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
- Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
- Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
- Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
- Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
- Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
- Lock out your push-up and pause.
- Slowly lower yourself back down and get ready for the next repetition from just above the ground. Do not fully relax at the bottom of the push-up unless your program specifies.
Why: Pull-Ups are excellent for building upper body strength, including the shoulders and back, which is essential for powerful serves and spikes.
Yes, technically you need a pull-up bar (or anything similar that can work as one), but Pull-ups are still a bodyweight exercise and they’re just too good to leave off the list.
- Approach the pull-up bar and grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away).
- Use a bench to get to the bar if it is too high.
- Later in the article, I will talk about variations, alternatives, and modifications where the supinated (palms facing in) grip will be discussed.
- Squeeze the bar and engage the core muscles and do not cross your legs.
- Engage the upper back and pull up until your chin is over the bar.
- Pause for 1 second with your chin over the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
Why: Lunges are great for building strength in your legs and improving your balance, both of which are essential for maintaining a strong defensive position in volleyball.
- Stand upright with feet hip-width apart, shoulders relaxed and engage your core
- Step forward with one leg and lower your body, bending both knees at 90 degrees.
- Front knee above ankle, not past toes. Back knee close to but not touching the ground.
- Push off the front foot and return to the start position. Alternate legs each rep.
Why: Mountain Climbers promotes agility and core stability, helping you quickly change direction and maintain a strong posture during intense volleyball matches.
- Begin in a push-up position – hands under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line
- Now raise one knee toward the chest and place the ball of the foot on the ground – from this position you’re ready to begin performing reps.
- Drive one leg up and place the foot right next to where the opposite foot just left.
- Simultaneously extend the ‘up foot’ back to the original starting position.
- Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed.
Why: Squat Jumps can be a crucial exercise to increase your explosive power, helping you to jump higher while spiking or blocking.
- First, make sure you have enough clearance to safely do Squat Jumps (no low ceilings!)
- Start in a shoulder-width with toes either straight ahead or turned slightly out.
- Squat down, exactly how you would with a normal Bodyweight Squat.
- As you squat down, cock your arms back so that they are down and slightly behind the hips.
- When you get to the bottom of the squat, explosively drive yourself up – hips and arms – into the air as high as possible.
- Land softly by bending the hips and knees to absorb force when contacting the ground.
Why: Targeting the oblique muscles, Russian Twists help in developing a strong core, crucial for sharp turns and swift movements during the game.
- Start by taking a seat on the floor and clasping your hands together.
- Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
- Start by rotating your torso to the left, taking your right elbow toward your left knee.
- Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right, now taking your left elbow toward your right knee.
- Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
- Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.
Why: Supermans work on your lower back muscles, promoting a strong core and reducing the risk of back injuries, which can be quite common in volleyball.
- Lay on your stomach with arms stretched out overhead.
- Contract the low back and glutes and raise the chest, arms and legs (thighs) off the ground.
- Squeeze and hold for a one count and then lower back down to the ground.
Here’s a bodyweight circuit that you can follow to build strength and endurance utilizing the exercises above:
|Circuit 1||3 Rounds|
|Bodyweight Squats||x 15|
|Plank||x 45 seconds|
|Circuit 2||3 Rounds|
|Mountain Climbers||x 15 each leg|
|Squat Jumps||x 12|
|Russian Twists||x 15 each side|
|Circuit 3||3 Rounds|
|Lunges||x 12 each leg|
Make sure to start off with a proper warm-up. I have a few sample warmups here if you need one.
Perform each exercise in Circuit 1 one after another, with minimal rest in between, until 3 total rounds have been completed.
Rest 2 minutes.
Continue on to Circuit 2 in the same manner, resting another 2 minutes between Circuit 2 and 3.
If you want to increase the challenge, try 4 rounds of each circuit instead of 3.
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Bodyweight exercises can stand as a powerful ally in a volleyball player’s journey to peak physical performance.
Whether you’re executing powerful serves, making rapid directional changes, or elevating for that game-winning spike, the strength and agility garnered from exercises such as Squats, Planks, and Pull-Ups can be your secret weapon.
So, the next time you find yourself without gym access, remember that your best training tool is your own body. Start incorporating these essential exercises into your routine to become a force to be reckoned with on the court.