Strength training dominates most athletes' fitness and conditioning programs through out the year. In particular, volleyball players are well-known to have one of the highest levels of strength training dedication. These elite athletes realize the benefits of a proper periodized strength training program.
Volleyball pushes players to the extreme. Each athlete is expected to excel in explosive movements, vertical jumps, power hitting and intense serves. The position rotation in volleyball signifies the definite need for comprehensive players. Being a great blocker is a huge plus, but volleyball thrives off of all-around spectacular athletes. Strength training is a massive component to any elite athlete.
Strength training for volleyball requires the knowledge of periodization. Periodization means changing one or more variables within your strength training program on a regular and consistent basis. These variables can include the exercise, the frequency of lifting, the intensity of lifting, or the method of lifting.
Volleyball players, as well as most other athletes, work on a yearly periodization schedule. They break their year down into 4 distinct segments or cycles. Each new segment means they should change their strength training program to match that cycle's goals.
The four segments can be broken down into the off-season, the pre-season, the in-season, and the post-season. Each season has unique goals and a unique strength training program. Athletes allow time for resting, building strength and building sport specific functions before the start of the official game season.
The off-season's goal is to build power and strength. The off-season utilizes power exercises and higher weights to increase muscle size and strength. Typically, the strength training program is most intense during the off-season. Athletes invest a lot of time to their basic fitness foundation.
The pre-season focuses on actual sport specific functions. Squatting, jumping, lateral stepping, hitting and spiking are all common volleyball movements. The pre-season volleyball strength training routine is less intense than the off-season. The goal is to maintain that strength and power, but to perfect sport specific movements. Most of the routine is dedicated to mock volleyball games and drills.
The in-season purely focuses on maintaining the off and pre-season's goals. The off-season built power and the pre-season put that power to use. Athletes enjoy the fruits of their labor during the in-season. The spike that flies past the opponent's head and drills into the floor is proof that strength training for volleyball works.
The post-season's goals are about relaxation and repair. This is a time of year that includes low intensity workouts. The goal is to allow the body to heal after grueling months of high intensity workouts. These few weeks of rest and low intensity strength training and cardio bring the entire training year to a close. The post-season delivers a skilled and healed athlete to begin the off-season strength and power building again.
Off-season ~ Pre-season ~ In-season ~ Post-season ~ Repeat
Regardless of the season, a few things remain constant. Volleyball players should always perform one or more exercises for each muscle group. Each exercise should be performed through a full ROM (range of motion), and each strength training routine should steer towards sport specific movements.
Strength training for volleyball players is an essential and organic component of their fitness and conditioning program. Strength training delivers the edge that all athletes need to succeed. Periodization is necessary in all strength training programs. Volleyball and other sports have taught us the importance of a proper fitness routine based on specific goals.
By Lynn VanDyke
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