The CrossFit Open is around the corner and wall balls have been in the Open for as long as I can remember.
What are wall balls?
Wall balls are a conditioning movement in crossfit training that can help improve your VO2 max, increase endurance, and be used as a tool for metabolic conditioning. Wall balls consist of two movements, the squat and push press (similar to a thruster). When doing a wall ball, you are working your lower body through the squat and your upper body through the push press. When doing a wall ball, you are using eleven muscles and multiple joints which lends this exercise to be known as a functional movement exercise. The movements are things we do every day.
Wall balls are great for training because they are a scalable exercise. You can make them harder as you incorporate either a higher volume or weight depending on individual goals your programming.
A wall ball is complete when you perform a squat and use the explosion coming up from the squat and then use your push press to get the ball to reach a 9 foot target for woman and a 10 foot target for men. The weight of the ball can be as light as 6 to 8 lbs for beginners to 14/20 lbs for prescribed weight for women/men, and then add more weight to become stronger and more explosive.
To get better at wall balls, you should practice sets of wall balls to build your threshold so you can conquer WODs like Karen and Kelly, the Open WODs 11.5, 12.4., or 13.3, or Hero WODs such as Nuttall, Adam Brown, McLendon and Whitten. Also, keep in mind it is important for you to know when you should break during these WODs so that the monkey doesn't jump on your back and you're unable to keep a steady pace.
How do I complete a wall ball?
1) The medicine ball will be held at your chest with your elbows under the ball and your feet shoulder-width apart. (Tip: keep elbows tight so your shoulders do not fatigue quickly)
2) Then squat down and drive the hips vertically to an upright position (Tip: use hips, not arms)
3) Then proceed to use the momentum derived from the hips to further the medicine ball to the target with guidance from the upper body (arms/hands) (Tip: learn to use the rebound to get into a pattern or rhythm of the movement)
4) When catching the ball from the target, try keeping the ball in front of your face so that you can maintain the correct form in the squatting position to start the movement all over again. (Tip: hold the ball at the chin or above)
Have fun and play around with using wall balls in your training. If you're brave, you should try a wall ball burpee where your hands are always positioned on the ball for a good and challenging workout.