A General Weight Training Program for Handball

Improve Your Strength and Power

A handball match during the 2012 London Olympics.

Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Indoor handball is a ball sport that involves jumping, speed, and requires agility. Handball is a popular sport in Europe and some Asian countries. It is less popular in the USA, UK, and Australia, although it seems to be increasing in popularity.

Indoor handball is played on a court a little larger than a basketball court. Like ice hockey, a goal net is the target at each end. Scoring occurs when the ball, about the size of a large cantaloupe, is thrown past the goalkeeper into the net. Men and women play in separate competitions. Other forms of "handball" also exist, but indoor handball as described above is an Olympic sport.

From a weight training and strength and conditioning perspective, the requirements are not too different from the basketball training program.

Periodized Programs

Comprehensive training programs for individual sports are "periodized." That is, they are broken into three or four phases in the year with each phase concentrating on a particular area of fitness development. Periodized programs in weight training provide a progressive buildup to peak fitness and performance.

For professional sports that use weights in their training, each phase has different objectives and each successive phase builds on the previous one.

Although handball does not have quite the jumping demands of basketball or volleyball, aerobic fitness plays an important role in all-round fitness. Early preseason cardio and then a build-up including anaerobic training with wind sprints, shuttles, sprints, and intervals will prepare players for the season start and those intense matches to come.

Handball places high demands on cardio-respiratory fitness.

Weight Training

A year-long handball weight training program could look similar to the program I've outlined below.

Early Preseason

  • Players are preparing for the season and starting to build up after the offseason.
  • Emphasis is on building aerobic fitness, functional strength and hypertrophy.

Late Preseason

  • Players are working up to the start of the season and preseason trials are imminent.
  • Emphasis is on building anaerobic fitness and maximum strength and power.

In season

  • Competition is underway and players are expected to be fully functional for competition.
  • Maintenance of speed, aerobic and anaerobic fitness and strength and power is emphasized.

Off season

  • The season is over; time to relax for a while, but you need to remain active.
  • Emphasis is on rest and recovery with maintenance of light activity—cross-training, light gym work. Several week breaks from serious fitness and strength training is helpful.
  • As the preseason approaches, more regular work can resume with an emphasis on building aerobic fitness once again for the preseason training.

Consider the program presented here to be an all-round program, best suited to beginners or casual weight trainers without a history of weight training for handball. The best programs are always specific to an individual's specific current fitness, role in the team, access to resources, and, no less important, the team coaches' essential philosophy. You will be best served by using the following program in conjunction with a trainer or coach.

Weight Training Program Details

  • Use the weight training program for basketball. The requirements are very similar.
  • Specialized programs are available for developing your vertical jump.

If you are new to weight training, brush up on principles and practices with the beginner resources.

Always warm up and cool down before and after a training session. A medical clearance for exercise is always a good idea at the start of the season.

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