The most effective volleyball players have a powerful arm swing, hitting the ball with more force and gaining greater thrust on jumps. During the course of a game, you use your arms to serve, set, hit, spike and block -- fundamental maneuvers for successful play. To strengthen your arms, various training methods, such as resistance exercises and plyometrics, offer different advantages. The best arm exercises tap into these different techniques to achieve a well-rounded regimen.
Exercises using your body weight can help you to build a foundation of upper-body strength required for more advanced plyometric exercises, such as medicine ball throws. Chin-ups, pullups and pushups are the best exercises to strengthen your arms and shoulders as well as improve motor coordination and core stability. The classic military-style pushup requires no equipment and will blast your upper body, including your arms. If you want to focus on building your biceps, perform chin-ups or pullups with a narrow grip.
Use resistance exercises to address muscle imbalances, build a base of arm strength and isolate and strengthen your triceps. For volleyball, your triceps are particularly important because they provide the power you need for overhead spikes, serves, hits and blocks. The best resistance exercises for your triceps include bench presses, triceps extensions with dumbbells, incline presses with dumbbells and dumbbell sets. To begin, start a dumbbell set from a standing position and holding the ends of the dumbbell at chest level with your elbows bent. Exhale and take a short step forward as if you’re about to set. Slowly push the weight up to about 4 to 6 inches in front of your forehead. Inhale and return to the starting position, repeating the exercise six to eight times.
Plyometrics are a training method that takes advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle of muscle contractions and are essential to building power in your arms. These taxing exercises, which simultaneously build speed and strength, require a base of strength achieved via multi-joint and resistance exercises. The best plyometric exercises for your arms involve various medicine ball throws, such as a backward toss, a squat throw, one-handed throws and tosses with an underhand grip. For example, begin a backward toss by standing with your feet at a little over hip-width distance apart. Have a partner stand about 10 to 15 yards behind you. Holding the ball, sink into a semi-squat. Straighten your legs and explode up, raising your arms overhead and tossing the ball back to your partner. Have your partner return the ball, catching it on the bounce.
Forearms and Grip
Because volleyball requires a strong grip, it's important to build the muscles in your forearms in addition to your biceps and triceps. One of the most effective exercises targeting the flexor muscles buried in your forearms is hanging from a pull-up bar. Using an overhand grip, hang from the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Slightly uncurl your hands while maintaining your grip on the bar. Slowly lower yourself 1 to 2 inches until you’re hanging by the tips of your fingers. Hold the peak position for a few seconds and then curl your hands to close your grip. If the exercise is too hard, place one foot on a chair or the floor to reduce the load.
- Delavier’s Anatomy for Bigger, Stronger Arms; Frederic Delavier, Michael Gundill
- Plyometrics; Donald A. Chu, Gregory Myer
- The Volleyball Handbook; Bob Miller
- SportsFitnessAdvisor: Volleyball Plyometrics Program
- High-Performance Sports Conditioning; Bill Foran, Editor
- Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Sports; Bill Pearl
- Peak Conditioning Training for Volleyball; Thomas Emma
- Strength-and-Power-for-Volleyball.com: Volleyball Workouts