Upper Body Strength Exercises for Volleyball Players


To do their best on the court, volleyball players need to be fast, explosive and strong. While strong legs and core muscles are crucial for the game, strengthening the upper body is just as important -- especially for power plays like spiking and digging. There are several exercises you can do to build upper-body strength. Whether it’s the middle of the season or you haven’t played a game in weeks, you can add these chest, arm and shoulder workouts to your fitness routine to put some extra power in your game.


  • Performing pushups is a tried and true way to increase your upper-body strength, and incorporating these into your workout will show some definite results in your arms and shoulders. However, instead of relying on traditional pushups alone, challenge yourself with a dynamic and varied plan that will maximize your results. Using different types of pushups will work your muscles in different ways, building total-body strength. This strength is necessary for speed on the court and proper form for all types of volleyball hits. Start with plyo pushups, for which you explode off the ground, then try close-grip pushups with your hands positioned 6 to 12 inches apart. Next perform the the pushup ladder. Do five pushups followed by five seconds of rest, then 10 pushups with 10 seconds of rest, increasing the numbers by five until you are fatigued.

Lat Raise Jack

  • This move will work your shoulders and your lats -- the muscles in your back -- which will help with serving, blocking and other plays. Lat raise jacks don’t require any special equipment, and because the exercise combines both cardio and strength elements, you'll get a comprehensive workout. Lat raise jacks are done from a standing position, with elbows at your sides and arms straight out. Your hands should be fists. Do a jumping jack, but only the leg portion. Each time you jump out, raise your elbows to shoulder height, lowering them when you jump to bring your feet back together.

Weight Training

  • Upper-body exercises that rely on weight machines or dumbbells can also help you build strength in those crucial areas. Military presses and single arm dumbbell snatches both work your shoulders and triceps, necessary for serving, setting or attacking a volleyball. Try different weights and numbers of reps to target both strength and endurance. Military presses can be done with a bar or dumbbell and are performed by standing with the weight at chin level, then pressing it overhead until your arms are straight. Single-arm dumbbell snatches start from a squatting position, with the dumbbell in front of you. Explode up, raising the dumbbell over your shoulder until your arm is fully extended.

Other Equipment

  • Medicine balls, ropes and resistance bands can also be used to build upper-body strength for volleyball. A medicine-ball slam works exactly how it sounds. Using whatever weight ball you’re comfortable with, lift it overhead and slam it to the ground. Rope slams rely on a similar movement, but you pick up and slam heavy ropes. Resistance bands can also be used to increase the intensity of a variety of exercises that target the arms, shoulders and back, which are all important to proper volleyball service technique.

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