Wall Balls Are the One Exercise You Need for Your Butt, Arms, and Core

Here's why you should try this full-body CrossFit favorite.

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When you think about full-body workouts, you probably think about dreaded burpees, mountain climbers, and maybe even rowing. But, one move will ramp up your heart rate and give you a total-body burn that we think you won't hate.

Wall balls.

Wall balls are a full-body, multi-body-part exercise done with—You guessed it!—a wall and a medicine ball. That's an almost-squishy, not-quite-a-toy piece of equipment that looks like a dark soccer ball and comes in different weights.

The move combines squats and explosive movements for a full-body workout.

"Wall balls are a great bang for your buck. With every rep, you're targeting not only your quads, shoulders, chest, and core, you're also working your glutes, hamstrings, and triceps," said certified personal trainer Katie Bergstrom, also an instructor with the home workout program The Mirror.

"Wall balls are an awesome exercise for building explosiveness, strength, and [endurance]," Bergstrom added. "A four-minute circuit of wall balls definitely beats traditional cardio like running or spinning, in my opinion."

So, if you're trying to make the most of your time in the gym while working your bum, arms, core, and endurance, this move should be your new go-to.

How To Do Wall Balls

You just need a medicine ball and a sturdy wall or surface to do wall balls. Beginners to strength training should opt for a six- to eight-pound ball, while more experienced exercisers can use a 12- to 14-pound one.

To start, stand arm's length away from the wall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed out a little like you're going to do a squat. "If you know you have a narrow (or wide) squat stance, adjust your feet to that position instead," suggested Bergstrom. Pick up the ball and hold it at chest height with your elbows tight to your sides.

Brace your stomach and back muscles and engage your core as you squeeze your hands into the ball. This will get your upper body and shoulders ready to work. Then, drop your butt back and down to lower into a squat while keeping your chest up and the ball pressed just under your rib cage.

Sit back into your heels and get as deep into the squat as possible.

"It's important to keep your chest up so that the weighted ball isn't pulling you forward, onto your toes, and into bad form," Bergstrom said.

Then, drive through your heels and explode out of the bottom of the squat. At the same time, throw the ball toward a spot about eight to 10 feet up the wall.

Catch the ball on the rebound with your arms overhead, then immediately lower back down into your squat, keeping the ball at your chest. That's one rep.

"It's very important that the ball stays close to your body as you catch it and that your chest stays lifted throughout," said Bergstrom.

Katie Bergstrom

When done right, each rep looks the same, and the ball's contact with and departure from the wall are gentle, smooth, and precise. Bergstrom recommended starting with three sets of 10 to 15 reps with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between rounds. Or, take it up a notch.

"Eight sets of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest is a great way to challenge your [endurance] in only four total minutes of work," Bergstrom added.

Need to make it a little easier? Drop to a lighter weight, or only toss the ball six or seven feet up the wall.

"You can also opt for a Dynamax ball (soft-shell medicine ball) instead, which is easier to grip, toss, and catch than a traditional medicine ball, which is firmer," Bergstrom added. Once your form is perfect, you can increase the weight, reps, or target height to make the move even more challenging.

The Benefits of Wall Balls

Once you get the hang of wall balls, you'll reap the four perks below.

A Stronger Butt

Whether using a six-pound medicine ball or a 20-pounder, the added weight allows most people to sink lower into the squat position. That works your glutes more than in a traditional squat. Goblet squats are also great for this area.

Better Core Strength

Wall balls activate all the core muscles—the powerhouse of our entire bodies. Your core includes the muscles that support and move your spine, including the ones in your belly and lower back.

A strong core can help you achieve other fitness goals, whether that's nailing warrior pose, running a half marathon, or going for some other personal record. Bergstrom said it also means less injury risk because a strong core enhances overall stability and balance.

Toned Arms

Many people don't strength-train their arms—specifically their triceps—with much weight, repetition, or frequency. You can help your triceps live their best lives, though, with the help of moves like wall balls.

"Every rep works the chest, shoulders, triceps, and lats," said Bergstrom.

A New Challenge

CrossFit fans know that when this move shows up in the workout of the day (WOD), it takes a lot of positive self-talk and motivation to keep from dropping the weighted ball.

The same goes for a Tabata-style wall balls workout: Twenty tosses in, even just the thought of launching the weighted medicine ball in the air becomes challenging.

While Bergstrom said you should never do so many reps that you lose good, safe form, you'll be surprised just how many reps you can do if you set your mind to it.

A Quick Review

Wall balls are a simple, highly effective exercise popularized by CrossFit.

All you need for wall balls is a weighted ball, such as a medicine ball or a wall ball, and a wall. You can increase or lower the challenge by choosing a heavier or lighter ball.

If you do wall balls consistently over a long enough period, they can lift your butt, tone your arms and strengthen your core.

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