This one exercise has improved my endurance and strengthened my entire body

If these aren’t in your workout, then you need to add them in

Man performing wall balls
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find a single exercise that can increase your cardiovascular fitness, build muscle and increase strength all over, without it being a heavy compound lift, like the deadlift or sled push. However, I’ve found one: enter the wall balls.

“Wallballs are a full body movement that improves strength, power, muscular endurance and coordination,” says  Jake Dearden, HYROX Master Trainer and Represent 247 Athlete. They’re often used in CrossFit workouts and the endurance race HYROX, and it involves throwing a weighted ball at a target on a wall and catching it as you squat down. But why are they so good?

“They’re hugely beneficial, largely because they are a compound movement – this is an exercise that works multiple muscle groups,” explains Jake. “With wallballs, you’re utilising your quads, shoulders and chest, as well as your glutes, hamstrings and triceps. But they also allow you to improve your cardiovascular capacity as well as muscular endurance.”

T3 Active Writer doing wall balls

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve been including wall balls into my workouts since last year when I decided to take on the challenge of swapping from weightlifting to training for my first HYROX. But since returning to my regular strength/hypertrophy style of training I’ve carried on including them in my training and I can confidently say nothing gets my heart up and body burning quite like them. With every throw I can really feel my biceps, lats and shoulders working to power the ball towards the wall, then as I catch it my core is switched on to keep me stable as I bend down into a squat which, naturally, burns the hell out of my legs and glutes. 

However, the beauty of wall balls is that it’s a scalable exercise that you can adapt depending on your goals. For example, if you want to focus more on cardio and endurance, opt for a lighter wall ball, anything between 2kg to 4kg. Whereas if you want to build more strength you can use a heavier wall ball. 

Jake also says they’re very easy to incorporate into your workouts and I agree. I don’t spend ages doing them, my coach usually incorporates them in a short circuit for me to complete after my strength sessions. They also give my traps the most incredible pumps, they’re left looking like little hills afterwards. Fancy giving them a go? Below Jake breaks down how to do them.

Jake's tips for mastering wall balls

  • Stand with your feet in a squat set up, shoulder width apart and stand an arm’s length away from the wall. 
  • Start  with the ball at around chest height (the ball should never go below this level), before lowering down into the bottom of a squat.
  • Push up through the squat, keeping your chest up with your eyes on the target you are aiming for. As you reach the top of the squat throw the ball upwards at the wall. 
  • As you catch the ball, lower yourself into the squat position and repeat. 

Also don't forget:  Make sure you are breathing properly throughout the movement and try to get into a rhythm to keep your heart rate from skyrocketing too much. For example, breathe in when you are lowering into a squat and exhaling when throwing the ball. 

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.