Debuting in the 2021 CrossFit Open, wall walks are a true test of shoulder stability and core strength. And, love them or hate them, they really are here to stay—especially if the 2021 Games and 2022 Open workouts are any indication.
Since all signs point to us likely seeing wall walks again in the next Open (which starts in mid-February!), now is a great time to work on getting better at this move no matter where your skills are now.
Benefits of the Wall Walk Exercise
While they aren’t the easiest (or most fun) of all CrossFit moves to complete, wall walks certainly are beneficial to your overall fitness and strength.
Some benefits of wall walks include:
- Building upper body strength. Wall walks make liberal use of your shoulders, lats and arms, meaning they give you the perfect opportunity to really work on your upper body strength.
- Improving balance, stability and coordination. Doing a wall walk correctly is more than just pure strength. You also must maintain your balance through all parts of the movement, and keep your body stable as you move up and back down the wall. Regular practice helps to improve all these components of your fitness.
- Building and strengthening muscles. During a wall walk, you utilize a wide variety of muscles, including your core, chest, legs, triceps and shoulders. Practicing your wall walks helps to build and strengthen these muscles, which translates into improved strength for other movements.
How to Do a Wall Walk in Crossfit
Before we get into progressions that help you build the strength and balance necessary to complete a wall walk, it’s important to break down the movement itself.
1. Start in the Prone Position
Find a clear space on the wall and lie face-down with your feet flat against the wall. Put the palms of your hands flat against the ground with your elbows bent, like you’re doing a push up.
2. Push up Off the Floor
Using your hands, push your body up off the ground, keeping your feet flat against the wall. Maintain a neutral spine as you push up, so don’t arch or round your back.
3. Walk up the Wall
Move one foot as far up the wall as you can reach, then begin to walk your feet up the wall. At the same time, move your hands closer to the wall.
Keep your arms extended, and continue walking your hands and feet until your thighs and chest touch the wall.
Tip: You will likely be more successful in completing a wall walk if you move quickly than if you move more slowly. This may take some practice, but moving your hands and feet faster help you keep your balance better and complete the wall walk.
4. Control Your Descent to the Floor
Now that you’re up on the wall, you need to get back down. Walk your hands out from the wall and your feet back down to the floor without sliding. Keeping your core engaged and squeezing your muscles the whole time is essential so you don’t tip over or so your feet don’t touch the floor too early.
You will have completed one rep when your chest and thighs are touching the floor.
Not Ready to Do a Full Wall Walk? Try these Crossfit Scaled Wall Walk Drills
Doing a full wall walk is much more difficult than it looks. If your skills (or your confidence upside-down) aren’t quite there yet, these 5 drills will help you.
1. Plank Wall Step up/Step Down
This drill is for you if you’re truly starting at square one, or if you’re struggling with feeling that you’ll tip over when you get up on a wall.
Start with your feet flat against the wall and your body in the plank position. Without moving your hands, place each foot up on the wall and hold the position for a few seconds. Focus on squeezing and engaging your core. Then, bring your feet back down to the floor, one at a time.
Do 10 to 12 reps of this at least three times per week.
This drill will build your confidence working against the wall, will improve your balance on your hands and will begin to build the shoulder muscles you’ll need to progress further.
2. Prone Wall Step up/Step Down
The mechanics of this progression are similar to the last one, except you’ll start with your body prone against the floor instead of in a plank.
Push up to a neutral position, place each foot on the wall and hold the position. Engage your core and find your balance before bringing your feet back down to the floor, returning your body to the prone position.
Try to do 10 to 12 reps of this progression at least three times per week.
Adding in the need to push your body off the floor continues to build your shoulder strength, also adding in your triceps and back muscles.
3. Shift Your Hands
Once you’ve got the prone step up down, it’s time to add in shifting your weight on your hands. Do everything from the above progression and, once your feet are up on the wall, shift your weight back and forth in your hands a few times before coming back down.
Aim for 10 to 12 reps at least three times per week.
In addition to continuing to build up your muscles, shifting your weight helps you improve your balance and build the mechanics necessary to begin moving your hands while your feet are up on the wall.
4. Walk Your Hands Back
Now that you’re comfortable and strong up on the wall and shifting your weight, add in actually moving your hands back and your feet up. Once your feet are up on the wall, begin walking your hands back and your feet up until you reach a point you’re not comfortable with. Push your head through your arms and hold for a few seconds before coming back to the floor.
Do 10 to 12 reps at least three times per week, pushing a little farther up the wall each time.
This exercise is meant to continue building your muscles and improving your balance while slowly building your confidence as you move up the wall.
5. Box Handstand Side Walks
Using a 16” box, put your feet up on the box and your hands on the floor so you’re in the pike position. Make sure your head is facing the box. Extend your arms and legs and walk your hands in a circle around the box, taking small steps.
Practice this for 5 to 10 minutes three times per week.
Taking your feet off the wall but still forcing you to move your hands will help you continue to build those shoulder and back muscles. This gives you the strength and stability you’ll need to work all the way up to full wall walks.
Wall walks are definitely not the most fun movements in all of CrossFit, but they certainly provide a lot of benefits that you can translate over to the rest of your time in the gym. Spending some time working on them will not only pay off when you see them next in the Open, but it can help you with anything requiring core strength, balance or using your shoulders.
Do you enjoy wall walks?