If you’re ready to boost your power, crush your core, and challenge every muscle in your body, then we have the move for you. The wall ball exercise is a functional, full-body move that you can add to any strength or cardiovascular workout.
This explosive move is typically performed as part of a CrossFit workout. However, because of the results it produces, this exercise is now a fixture in most fitness facilities.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of the wall ball move, how to perform this exercise safely, and variations of the wall ball exercise that can help take your workouts to the next level.
The wall ball exercise is a compound, high-intensity move that requires maximum effort from a large number of muscles in your body.
Also known as a wall ball squat, this move requires the powerful muscles in your lower body to perform a squat while the muscles in your upper body contract to execute the push-press phase as you throw a ball against a wall.
To perform this move, you’ll need access to a large, empty wall and a weighted wall ball. The standard wall ball exercise requires you to stand facing the wall. However, several variations change the positioning of your body to challenge different muscle groups.
A wall ball is different from a medicine ball, which is smaller, harder, and not intended to be thrown at a wall. It’s also different from a slam ball, which is heavier, typically made of rubber, and designed to be thrown at the ground.
Choosing the right type of ball not only makes the exercise more effective, but it also keeps you free from injuries. With that in mind, using a ball specifically made for this exercise is the best way to go when pumping out several sets of reps.
Wall balls are typically made of vinyl, with a padded outer layer that makes them easier to catch. They come in a variety of weights, ranging from about 6 to 20 pounds.
When it comes to choosing the correct weight for wall balls, the first thing to consider is your core and upper body. The ball should be heavy enough to make the exercise challenging, but light enough to not compromise your form.
In other words, start light and progress to a heavier ball as you master the movement. Beginners may want to start with a lighter weight of 6 or 8 pounds, while advanced fitness levels may want to try 10 pounds or more.
The wall ball exercise offers a huge variety of benefits and works just about every muscle group in your body. It also allows you to move your body in every plane of motion — front to back, side to side, and in rotation.
A typical wall ball exercise recruits multiple muscles groups, including your:
The wall ball squat exercise increases your heart rate, making it a great way to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and burn calories, too. It also helps to increase your explosive power, which is a necessary component of many athletic activities.
Plus, performing this move can fine-tune your hand-eye coordination and improve your throwing skills and accuracy.
- Choose the appropriately weighted wall ball, and hold it in your hands.
- Stand about 2 feet in front of the wall with your feet hip-width apart, toes slightly outward.
- Hold the ball at chest height. Make sure to tuck your elbows into your sides.
- Engage your core and squeeze the ball. The harder you squeeze the ball, the more you require your core and shoulders to work.
- Begin the downward phase of the squat while keeping the ball at chest level. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Then drive your body up while tossing the ball at a vertical target about 8 to 12 feet high. Keep your arms extended. Tip: Pick a spot in this target area, and focus your eyes there the entire time.
- Catch the ball after it bounces, keep the ball at chest height, and squat down to repeat the exercise.
- Perform 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. Or, set the timer for 30 seconds and do as many as you can.
This variation of the wall ball exercise turns your body sideways for a rotational movement that challenges your core — specifically the obliques — chest and shoulders.
- Hold the ball in your hands, palms up.
- Stand perpendicular to the wall, right shoulder facing the wall, about 3 feet away.
- Get into a squat position, with your knees bent, with the ball on the outside of your left hip.
- While extending your legs to stand up, pivot your left foot, rotate, and throw the ball at the wall.
- Stay in this position to catch the ball. Return to starting position and repeat.
- Do 10 repetitions on each side.
If this move is too difficult, start with a standing trunk rotation. Hold the ball at chest level, close to your body, and rotate your torso to the right and left.
Forward underhand toss
For a deeper squat that works more of the adductors, try the forward underhand toss. By pointing your toes out, you recruit the inner thigh muscles and rely more on your glutes for power.
The underhand toss part of the move pulls in your biceps and chest.
- Face the wall, as if you’re doing a regular wall ball exercise.
- Hold the ball in your hands, then place it between your legs.
- Move into a wide squat position.
- Engage the glutes, stand up, and toss the ball upward toward the wall.
- Catch the ball and squat down to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
This move requires solid core strength and the ability to rotate to both sides. Only do reverse rotations if you’ve mastered the basic wall ball exercise, you have strong obliques, and you have good mobility in your upper body.
This exercise works your shoulders, upper back, biceps, chest, core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Hold the ball in your hands, palms up, with your back facing the wall.
- Step away from the wall until you’re at least a body-length away. For example, if you’re 6 feet tall, make sure there’s at least 6 feet of space between you and the wall.
- Squat down, rotate to the right side, and throw the ball against the wall. You’ll be looking over your right shoulder toward the wall.
- Grab the ball after it bounces off the wall, and repeat on the other side.
- Do 10 repetitions on each side.
The wall ball exercise is a medium- to advanced-level move that can complement any workout or strength training circuit.
Grinding out a few sets of wall ball exercises can boost your heart rate, improve cardiovascular fitness, and turn your body into a calorie-crushing machine. It can also strengthen most of the muscle groups in your body.
If you want to challenge your muscles further, you can try different variations of the regular wall ball squat or gradually increase the weight of the ball.