How to Build Up Your Arm Strength for Volleyball

Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States relies on arm strength to make a hit.
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So much of your effectiveness in volleyball depends on arm strength. A Nestie heroine such as Olympic three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings relies on arm strength as well as height to attack -- popularly known as spiking the ball. You especially need arm strength for blocking, the hands-up countermove at the net to an attack. The process of building up your arms is a year-round one that will have you spending time with your Nest dumbbells or in your gym’s weight room.

    Step 1

    Set up a schedule of two arm-strengthening sessions a week for your first 16 weeks. Begin each session by jogging in place and swinging your arms for five to 10 minutes until you begin to sweat lightly.

    Step 2

    Focus during each workout on your triceps first with pushups, working up gradually from one set of 10 per session to three sets of 15 or more if you can do them, advise the authors of “Complete Conditioning for Volleyball.” Hit the triceps again and the shoulder muscles as well with your second exercise, dips, working up from one set of five reps to three sets of as many dips as you can complete.

    Step 3

    Switch on the first workout day of the week to the bench press for your next 16 weeks of arm-strengthening workouts, going from four sets of eight light lifts to five sets of four heavy lifts over this time. On your second workout day, focus on the military press, working up from four sets of eight light lifts to five sets of four heavy lifts, and add the lying triceps exercise, which involves lowering a bar from above your head to your forehead, progressing from two sets of eight reps to three sets of eight reps.

    Step 4

    Practice wrist rollers to work your forearms, fingers, wrists and shoulders at each session. These entail rolling a bar or dowel to raise a rope and its weight plates. Start with a light weight and three reps and increase the challenge over time.


    • Plan your arm workouts so that you achieve peak strength at the start of your competitive season. During the season itself, taper your program slightly, with heavier weights and fewer reps, and take sufficient rest to recover from competition. As you add increased weight over time, remain focused on your technique, advise the authors of “Complete Conditioning for Volleyball.”

    Things You'll Need

    • Bench

    • Barbells or dumbbells

    • Dowel

    • Weight plates

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