By Lauren Bedosky
Wall ball exercises are a staple in strength training workouts for their benefits to strength, balance, and coordination. And because these exercises generally work all four limbs, you're sure to get a full-body workout.
If you're up for a rounded test of your fitness, then we dare you to take the wall ball challenge. Read on for more on how to incorporate wall ball exercises into your routine.
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Wall ball exercises offer a compound, high-energy workout that involves throwing a weighted medicine ball against a wall or other hard upright surface. Many moves incorporate a lower-body component, combining the throw with a squat, a lunge, or a side shuffle, making it a full-body exercise with a high cardiovascular demand.
Note that wall ball exercises are different from stability ball exercises, which involve a large, inflatable ball that most often remains on the floor and is used by the body for leverage. Wall ball exercises, conversely, require a smaller ball that is used specifically for throwing.
How to Choose a Medicine Ball
Medicine balls come in a range of weight options that generally run from five- to 30-pound loads. Typically, you'll choose a wall ball based on your body size and the type of exercise you're doing. Select lighter balls for speed training and heavier balls for power and strength workouts.
There are two different types of balls to choose from: One is rubbery and bounces a lot, while the other larger, softer ball bounces very little. Each type of medicine ball customarily has a padded outside layer so that it can be gripped and caught easily.
Although there are many different wall ball exercises, the following is a tried-and-true wall ball movement designed to hit many muscles at once.
“Wall ball exercises are excellent additions to your fitness arsenal," says Alison Heilig, a CrossFit coach, and NASM-certified personal trainer.
Here are just a handful of reasons why we agree with Heilig.
1. Engage multiple muscle groups
It's pretty tough to find a wall ball exercise that doesn't work for multiple major muscle groups. Most moves combine upper- and lower-body engagement, “and work basically your entire body in one compound movement," Heilig says. You can build strength in your shoulders, core, chest, arms, glutes, and legs in a single rep.
2. Build explosive power
Wall ball exercises are a great way to add some explosive power to your training, says Holly Janiszewski, a Minneapolis-based personal trainer and founder of Holly J Fitness. There is a difference between power and strength in fitness.
Power is force (strength) combined with speed. It requires a significant amount of force to slam the medicine ball against the wall and, over time, you may notice an increase in power that allows you to throw the ball harder and faster.
3. Boost your heart rate
As wall ball exercises recruit an impressive number of muscle groups, they get you sweaty and breathless, so add some to a HIIT or circuit training routine to jack up your heart rate. You can create more of a cardio focus by choosing a lighter ball that can be thrown for more reps at a faster pace, Heilig says.
4. Improve balance and coordination
No matter which variation you choose, wall ball exercises can help you develop greater balance and coordination. To perform any wall ball exercise, you need to coordinate your mind and body.
Performing variations on wall ball exercises is a sure way to beat boredom. The following wall ball exercises build on the basic move for a more challenging workout.
1. Standing Chest Pass
To target your shoulders, chest, and arms, try the standing chest pass.
2. Chest Pass with Lateral Shuffle
Not only does this exercise work your shoulders, chest, and arms, it also spikes your heart rate with quick, lateral movements.
3. Wall Ball Side Slam
As you rotationally slam the ball against the wall, the muscles of your entire core will engage.
4. Split-Stance Lateral Toss
The split stance lateral toss exercise targets multiple major muscle groups (shoulders, core, chest, arms, glutes, and legs), while challenging balance.
Wall ball exercises are tough, but they're also fun — especially if you need to blow off some steam after a frustrating day. Try out any variation at the end of a bad week, and you'll see what we mean.