5 Wall Ball Alternatives

There are lots of different workouts, and they all have benefits. Bodybuilding is arguably the best choice when you want to build muscle, while powerlifting and weightlifting are better suited for getting strong.

If you want to get fit and burn fat, running, cycling, circuit training, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) are arguably the best options.

But what if you want to achieve all these goals simultaneously?

You COULD do a different workout each day, but that’s probably not convenient and may not be effective. Or, you could try CrossFit.

CrossFit is a multidisciplinary workout that combines lots of different types of training. The aim of CrossFit is to produce a high level of all-around fitness and strength.

CrossFit has been popular for over two decades and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s also popularized lots of new and unusual training tools and exercises.

One such exercise, wall ball, uses a medicine ball to work every major muscle while building fitness and endurance. To do wall ball, stand in front of a smooth wall with a medicine ball in your hands, held in front of your chest.

Squat down and then stand up, throwing the ball up to touch a target ten feet above the floor. Catch the ball as it comes down and repeat.

In this article, we reveal the best wall ball alternatives for those times when you don’t have a medicine ball, a wall, or just fancy doing something different.

Wall Balls

Wall ball is popular for a reason – it’s an effective exercise! But, before we reveal the five best wall ball alternatives, let’s take a quick let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this staple of many CrossFit workouts.

Pros

  1. Full body exercise – if you are short on time and want to get a lot of work done in a short time, wall ball could be just the exercise you need. It works all your major muscles in one movement.
  2. Great for conditioning – working your arms and legs together puts a lot of stress on your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, delivering an effective cardio workout. Bored of running? Hate cycling? Do wall ball instead!
  3. Works well with HIIT and circuit workouts – wall ball works well as a standalone exercise, but even better as part of a HIIT or circuit workout. In fact, it’s just one of many excellent medicine ball exercises, including slams, overhead throws, and sit-up throws.

Cons

  1. You need a ball and a wall – if you don’t have a ball and a wall, you won’t be able to do this exact exercise. Don’t worry; there are plenty of wall ball alternatives.
  2. Injury risk – while wall ball isn’t really any more dangerous than any other exercise, it’s usually done for high reps and quite quickly, which could increase injury risk. Take care not to round your back at the bottom of each rep to minimize your risk of injury.
  3. Skill – wall ball requires decent hand-eye coordination; otherwise, you could find yourself getting hit on the head by a heavy medicine ball or just dropping it a lot. Wall ball is not as technically demanding as things like cleans or snatches, but it’s definitely trickier than the average strength training exercise.

5 Alternatives to Wall Ball

Don’t get stuck in a wall ball rut. Keep your workouts fresh and interesting with these wall ball alternatives!

1. Thrusters

thrustersThrusters are a lot like wall ball, but you don’t actually let go of whatever weight you are using.

However, it uses the same muscles and has many of the same benefits.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  2. Stand up and press the weight up and overhead.
  3. Lower the weight back to your shoulders and repeat.
  4. You can also do this exercise with dumbbells, kettlebells, or a medicine ball.

2. Overhead medicine ball throw

Wall ball isn’t the only medicine ball exercise that features in CrossFit. Overhead throws are another popular movement. This exercise emphasizes your posterior chain, which is your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

How to do it:

  1. Hold your medicine ball in both hands and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, lean forward, and lower the weight between your knees.
  2. Stand up explosively and throw the ball up, over your head, and behind you.
  3. Turn and run after the ball, retrieve it, and repeat.
  4. Make sure you have plenty of space to do this exercise safely, making sure the ball won’t accidentally hit anyone.

3. Medicine ball slams

man training with medicine ballWhere wall balls involve throwing your medicine ball upward, slams are the complete opposite.

As such, they are a great antidote to all those wall balls you’ve been doing.

Better yet, do a wall ball/slam superset, alternating between these two excellent movements.

How to do it:

  1. Hold your medicine ball in both hands. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the ball up above your head.
  3. Putting your whole body into the throw, hurl the ball down at the floor just in front of your feet.
  4. Catch the ball as it bounces and then repeat.

4. Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Sumo deadlift high pulls are another whole-body CrossFit staple. All you need for this exercise is a barbell, kettlebell, or resistance band.

How to do it:

  1. Place your barbell on the floor. Stand behind it with your toes under the bar, feet about 1 ½ shoulder-widths apart. Squat down and hold the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
  2. Without rounding your lower back, drive your feet into the floor and quickly stand up.
  3. As the bar passes your knees, start pulling with your arms and draw the weight up the front of your body. Keep your elbows above your hands.
  4. Pull the bar right up to your chin and then lower it back to the floor.
  5. Alternatively, you can do this exercise from just below knee height without taking the weight down to the floor between reps.

5. Battle rope alternating slams

man doing battle ropeBattle ropes are another popular CrossFit training tool.

Alternating slams work your legs, core, torso, and arms and are just as good as wall ball for full-body conditioning and fitness.

How to do it:

  1. Take one end of the rope in each hand. Bend your knees and adopt an athletic stance. Brace your core.
  2. Using an alternating arm action, raise one arm and then slam the rope down to the floor. Put your whole body into each slam. The rope should form a wave.
  3. Continue alternating arms for the duration of your set.

Bottom Line

Wall ball is a great full-body exercise. But did you know you don’t even need a wall to do it? All you really need is a willing partner.

Stand about ten feet away from your companion and, using your best wall ball technique, take it in turns to squat, press, and throw the ball to one another.

You could even do this over a net to ensure you both throw the ball with the same power. This is called Hooverball and was reportedly a favorite workout of the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover.

While wall ball (and Hooverball) are excellent exercises, they are not necessarily the most practical and convenient. After all, you need a medicine ball and plenty of space, not to mention a wall with a ten-foot target on it.

The good news is that there are plenty of exercises you can do that are every bit as effective and demanding.

Whether you are bored of wall ball or don’t have the space or necessary facilities, these five wall ball alternatives will deliver a very similar workout.

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

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