Written by Dave
A previous post Do The Opposite dealt with a principle to adhere to when planning a strength & conditioning program for volleyball. “Train movements, not muscles” is another conditioning principle that is applicable to all sports, including volleyball.
A key principle when trying to improve your volleyball performance is specificity of training. Your training should be specific to the demands and movement patterns of volleyball. The more similar your weight training exercises are to the movements performed in a game, the more carryover there will be from the weight room to the court. This means that your weight training movements should of a similar pattern, velocity and contraction type to those performed in volleyball.
Leg strength is an important factor in volleyball. When comparing exercises that train leg strength, squats and lunges have a similar movement pattern to many of the movements performed in volleyball. For this reason, these exercises are better choices than leg presses and leg extensions, even though the same muscles are involved.
So Why Train Muscles?
There are many exercises that isolate a particular muscle, such as bicep curls and leg extensions. Many bodybuilders use these exercises to target a particular area they are trying to work on. Bodybuilders train muscles. They aim to work particular muscles, to make them grow, so they can look bigger and better. Bodybuilders have no interest in improving moving patterns or being good at volleyball. So it makes no sense for volleyball players to train like bodybuilders.
Isolation exercises are not all bad. They certainly have a place in rehab, and for bodybuilding purposes they can provide a bit of an extra stimulus to help pump up a certain muscle a bit. Another example when isolation exercises are useful is when trying to activate a dormant muscle such as the glutes. See our previous posts on firing up your butt.
However, if your main training goal is to get better at volleyball then I would definitely advice you to focus on exercises that train movement patterns, not muscles.