Develop Explosive Power With UCLA Volleyball's Workout

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Volleyball athletes need to read and react in order to spike the ball onto opposing defenders. Speed and agility are critical attributes on the court, but if you don't have the power to hit the ball once you run it down, your team will suffer.

If you want to put power behind your spikes, you have to do more than simply work a few arm exercises into your daily routine. You need to work from the ground up. That's just what UCLA Bruin volleyball players do during the off-season to add extra force to their hits.

"Volleyball is a power sport," says Ray Weisenbarger, UCLA volleyball strength and conditioning coach. "It is explosive, [and] it's fast. That's the way the game has to be played." Yet, when players are preparing during the off-season, strength and power training are often overlooked.

If you're looking to play in the Pac-12, arguably the best volleyball conference in the NCAA, gaining strength is a key to success. One way the Bruins gain an advantage over their opponents is through their brutal strength program, which is especially important for incoming freshmen. "When you make the jump from high school to college, everybody is as good as you are," Weisenbarger says.

His philosophy for weight room training is simple: power starts from the lower body, then up to the shoulders, arms and hands. "When you get up into the air to put a spike down, you have to have some power behind what you're hitting," Weisenbarger says. "[You] need power in your legs to get up into the air. [And you] need power and strength in your upper body to spike, hold blocks and to dig balls."

To add a little Hollywood Hills into your off-season training, incorporate this full-body routine once a week.

Box Jumps
• Assume athletic stance an arm's length away from plyo box
• Lower into quarter-squat, then explode through hips, knees and ankles and jump for maximum height
• Land softly with bent knees on top of plyo box
• Step down slowly; repeat for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 4x5
Coaching Point: Always start jump on balls of feet

Hang Clean
• Grip bar slightly wider than athletic stance
• Begin holding bar just above knees with back locked, shoulders up, and abs and chest flexed
• Explode by forcefully shrugging and fully extending hips, knees and ankles
• Pull bar up, keeping it close to chest
• Drop under bar and catch it in front of shoulders in athletic stance with knees bent
Sets/Reps: 5x5 with two warm-up sets
Coaching Points: Keep bar close to body // Use lower body to explode weight up // Focus on form rather than amount of weight

Dumbbell Forward Lunge
• Hold dumbbells at side
• Step forward into Lunge position without touching back knee to ground
• Using front foot, push back into standing position
• Repeat for specified reps
• Lead with other leg
Sets/Reps: 4x4 each leg
Coaching Points: Keep back flat and chest up // Don't over stride on Lunge // Don't allow knee to touch ground

Military Press
• Grip bar at shoulder-width and lift to slightly under chin
• Press weight directly over head until arms are straight
• Bring back down to start position
• Repeat for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3x8
Coaching Points: Use a spotter // Focus on pressing weight straight up // Start with light weight until comfortable performing the lift // Use dumbbells if unable to lift bar

Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
• Begin in athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart; hold dumbbell in one hand between knees
• Squat slightly, then quickly press off ground using jumping movement
• Extend ankles, knees and hips while pulling dumbbell up
• Allow momentum to carry dumbbell up and over shoulder
• Catch Dumbbell overhead and hold fully extended position for one second, then lower
• Repeat for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3x5 each arm
Coaching Points: Keep weight close to body // Bring weight up in straight line // Use lower body to explode up

Double Leg Bucks
• Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor
• Place arms out to sides with palms on floor
• Squeeze glutes and thrust hips up as far possible
• After full glute contraction and hip extension, lower back and hips to start position
Sets/Reps: 3x10
Coaching Points: Pull heels in as close to butt as possible // Push hips all the way through

Reverse Hyper (performed using a Glute-Ham Machine)
• Start with upper body facing down on machine, with legs hanging perpendicular to floor
• Raise legs until parallel to floor; pause, then lower with control
• Return to start position
Sets/Reps: 3x10
Coaching Points: Keep legs and heels together // Maintain flat back

Med Ball Russian Twists
• Sit on ground with legs crossed and feet above floor
• Twist to one side, then twist to other side with med ball in hands (one rep total)
• Repeat movement for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3x20
Coaching Points: Don't let feet touch ground // Increase weight for added difficulty

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock