Beach Volleyball changed my body. I gained 5 pounds of lean muscle mass in relatively short amount of time.  I topped out at 200lbs, something I have never been able to do.  I see much of that new muscle in my legs.  Jeans are now a little tighter in my thighs/butt area 😮

This is no small thing!  I have been training hard for over 2 decades and trying to maximize power and strength.  It should be noted that during this time of muscle growth, I wasn’t lifting nearly as much as usual. I needed to spend as much time as I could on the court and my lifts (in season) became more “maintenance”.  

The take-away is that beach volleyball is GOOD FOR YOU! That is a message that should be broadcast loudly.  I see lots of people who already know this…groups of people that come down to the beach or sand court and play for a couple hours.  It’s fun, outdoors, social, muscle building and helps develop better stamina.  Struggle to get to the gym on a regular basis?  No worries, head to the beach/sand court and go have some fun!

For years (especially in the final few years of my indoor career) I tried to put on more weight. I was working hard in the weight room and working very closely with trainers and nutritionists to optimize my strength and power.  Eating became an absolute chore and it took months for me to make gains.  They were good gains but it would take close to 6 weeks to pack on 2 pounds of lean muscle mass and lifts that would take over 2 hours, 4x per week.  

So what is the difference? What is the contributing factors that led to the ability to pack on more muscle in a shorter amount of time?  I would wager much of it has to do with the floor surface.  It is hard work to move around in the sand. From running to jumping, there is a lot more effort required to cover ground both laterally and vertically.  The great news is that that extra work load doesn’t incur any joint load that results in pain because the landing is so soft!

After a Beach workout, I feel zero joint pain. ZERO.  I feel muscle burn and my recovery focus quickly became muscle pliability, stretching and counter movements to remain balanced. My joints feel great.  That in contrast to how I felt after indoor workouts!  After playing indoor, I would feel my joints…all of them – shoulder, knees, back, etc..recovery often included joint pain management largely focussed on icing and trying to reduce swelling in the joint.  Some have argued that since swelling is the body’s natural healing response, it is somehow bad to intervene and try to reduce that swelling.  I am not a doctor, however, playing indoor volleyball everyday for years on end is not “natural” either…and the extra swelling can cause worse problems as you continue to pound your body on the hard surface day in and day out.

I want to add that Anthony Darmiento (Strength and Conditioning for USA Beach) has been charting our (USA Beach Athlete’s) explosiveness all season long.  We have data points from back in January to last week.  What is awesome is that in adding this weight and new beach mechanics, I have been able to maintain the same explosiveness!  All great news!

So, if you don’t have time to hit the gym on a regular basis but want to maintain your strength and fitness, go grab some friends and play beach volleyball!!