Strength for Volleyball Myths

The following are common myths of increasing strength for volleyball.


Myth: "I don't want to lift heavy weights because I'll get bulky."

Myth: "Lifting weights is for guys. If I lift too much I'll start looking like a man."

Developing a big, muscular, bulky body isn't easy.

If anything, it's an insult to all those people spending years in the gym in order to look the way they do. They didn't create the body they have overnight, which is what you're assuming if you think volleyball weight training will make you big and bulky.

The reality is it takes years of consistent training to develop a body like a competitive bodybuilder. Unless you're some sort of genetic freak, you have to go through more than just a few weight training cycles to get big and muscular.

Obviously, increasing muscle size isn't necessarily your main goal when it comes to increasing your volleyball performance.

Creating a masculine look by putting on a ton of muscle shouldn't be the only fear teenage girls that play volleyball have. Extra weight will likely affect their volleyball performance on the court in a negative way.

For most players, increasing size is likely going to hurt performance. The best volleyball athletes on the court aren't typically the biggest athletes. The quickest players and "biggest leapers" are typically the ones that are pound for pound the quickest, strongest, and most explosive athletes. 

In the 1960's, Bruce Lee was widely regarded as one of the world's premier martial artists.

Lee was incredibly strong for his size, especially for only 145 pounds. There are stories about him doing two-finger push-ups on one hand and also doing them horizontally holding up a 125-pound barbell.

Strength for Volleyball

You could say, pound for pound, Lee may have been one of the strongest men in the world, and most certainly one of the quickest.

Heavy Weights, Low Reps, High Intensity

If you follow the philosophy of lower reps at higher intensities, you won't likely put on a great deal of muscle mass because to get big, you need a high training volume (high reps, high sets, and many exercises that work the same muscle groups).

To get strong without the bulk, you need to lift heavy weight using fewer repetitions with less total volume.

Bodybuilding vs. Volleyball Strength Training

Bodybuilding is more closely related to training for increased muscular endurance.

To add bulk, bodybuilders lift lighter weight at lower intensities (ie: 50% 1RM) with higher number of reps and sets (ie: 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps per exercise) with less rest between sets (ie: 30 to 90 seconds). Total volume (sets X reps X weight) for the workout is much higher than building strength for volleyball.

Therefore, a bodybuilding program is much different from volleyball training programs whereas the goal for volleyball is to increase muscular strength and power and not necessarily muscular endurance.

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Volleyball Weight Training Myths and Common Mistakes Strength Training for Volleyball


Myth: "Weight training is only for big strong athletes such as bodybuilders and football players."

Myth: "Women can't benefit from weight training."

Women can get strong, muscular, and fit while staying incredibly attractive and feminine.

Most women have a much lower level of testosterone than men, approximately 10 times less.

Since testosterone is known to increase protein synthesis and muscle size, it makes sense it's much more difficult for women to build huge muscles compared to men when using intense strength training.

There's no reason for women to be afraid of lifting heavy weights and using the stereotypical male/macho exercises such as the deadlift, squat, and power clean. 

For women (or men) that are less trained, neural factors have a huge impact on strength for volleyball gains when first learning to lift weights. For a woman that's untrained (an inexperienced lifter), strength increase is more neurological, that is, your increase in strength is more directly the result of your body learning the movement patterns of the lifts.

Basically, if you're a beginner lifter, your increase in strength will be much more due to neurological efficiency rather than increased muscle size.

Volleyball is a sport where it's important to get stronger and not necessarily put on a lot of weight. For example, in order to make quick movements and  jump high, the extra weight you put on must be compensated by an increase in power or else it will slow you down and lower your vertical jump.

If you are an untrained athlete, it would be smart to strength train because you would experience great gains in strength neurologically without adding a lot of muscle mass.

In fact, if you are untrained, you will increase in strength much more rapidly than athletes that are trained. It is common for athletes new to improving strength for volleyball lifting to notice great gains in strength from workout to workout.


Myth: "I don't want to put on muscle because when I stop working out, the muscle will turn to fat."

If you stop lifting weights, the muscles you've been training will lose volume.

You still have the same number of muscle cells, but each muscle cell is smaller.
If you keep consuming the same amount of calories as you did during your training, the fat cells (which were always there) will likely expand.

Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue, so it's physiologically impossible for one to turn into the other.

However, if you stop training, you may lose the solid muscle tone look. If you don't adjust your diet and workout after you quit weight training, you will likely put on fat due to the excess calories.


Myth: "The only way to burn fat is to do aerobic exercise."

By gaining muscle mass from weight training, you will burn more calories.

Studies have estimated that for each pound of muscle that you add to your body, you burn an additional 35 to 50 calories per day.

So, if you put on 5 pounds of muscle, you will burn approximately 175 to 250 more calories a day.

A pound of fat is roughly equal to 3,500 calories.

Having this extra 5 pounds of muscle on your body could allow you to burn calories roughly equal to a pound of fat every 14 to 20 days without making any other changes.

Building strength for volleyball also has a great benefit to your metabolism. Researchers have discovered that basal metabolic rate is increased by about 15% from weight training. This metabolic effect is due to muscle being metabolically active.

Muscle burns more calories than other body tissue even when you're not moving.

If done right, volleyball weight training can be used to lose weight (burn fat).

Volleyball Conditioning for Weight Loss

Basically, the "meat" of a properly designed volleyball weight training program is made up of multi-joint resistance training exercises (squats, deadlifts, etc).

Multi-joint exercises are not only great for improving strength for volleyball and athletic performance, but are also great because they work nearly every muscle in your body.

What's great for fat loss is the anaerobic nature of multi-joint exercises.

Play in volleyball isn't continuous. Volleyball players need to be able to make quick explosive movements. Volleyball consists of plays that last on average between 5 and 15 seconds with rest between plays.

Therefore, the type of training volleyball players need is the kind of conditioning that allows them to anaerobically move fast and jump high.

Anaerobic endurance or anaerobic power is the conditioning volleyball players should focus on.

High Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss

The goal of high intensity interval training is to work every muscle group hard, frequently, and with an intensity that creates a massive metabolic disturbance that leaves your body's metabolism elevated for several hours post-workout.

This is known as the "afterburn effect".

It's called afterburn because you burn calories up to 48 hours (or even longer) after your workout. This is much different than traditional cardio aerobic exercise.

With aerobic exercise, you only burn fat during exercise. With high intensity interval training, you can alter your metabolism in a way that will even allow you to burn calories while you sleep!

Strength for Volleyball Related Pages

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Plyometric Exercises
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