Wall balls are not a strength movement. When’s the last time we did 4×5 wall ball shots in ascending weights as the first segment of a day’s workout? That would be silly. Wall balls are a conditioning movement meant to spike your heart rate, tax your lungs, and challenge you aerobically. For those unfamiliar, a wall ball (or wall ball shot) is a full body movement where an athlete holds a medicine ball in front of his/her chest and squats, and as the athlete stands fully, he or she throws the ball vertically to a target on the wall, usually 9 or 10 feet above the ground. The athlete then catches the ball as it drops and repeats this pattern.
But what if you struggle to get a single wall ball shot to the target? What if 14lbs is heavy? What if wall ball shots do feel like a strength movement? Then wall balls become something else, a movement you dread because your legs give out as you hit muscular failure struggling through a set of 10.
Luckily, we have an answer, and a simple one at that: Just grab a lighter wall ball. Maybe that seems obvious. But when a written workout of the day proscribes wall balls at 20 pounds for guys and 14 for ladies, you feel like you have to go with that weight. After all, it’s “only” 14 pounds. You can throw that close enough to the line and call it a rep, right?
In CrossFit, we’re looking for quality of movement. The workout of the day has an intended stimulus, and our goal as coaches is to find an appropriate scale for every athlete performing that workout to get that stimulus. For some, that may mean taking a lighter wall ball, even lighter than you think you “should be” using. But there is no “should be.” The proper weight is the one that allows you to get full depth on every squat, hit full height on every throw, and not feel like your arms or legs are go ing to be the limiting factor.
And that applies across the board: Not everyone should be swinging a 70-pound kettlebell. Not everyone should be deadlifting with multiple big plates on the bar. And not everyone should perform “Fran” at 95lbs/75lbs—at least not yet. There is a proper scale for every athlete, whether it’s your first time in the gym or you’re a CrossFit veteran looking to keep improving.
At CrossFit Jai, we program strength pieces and conditioning pieces in the workout multiple times each week. During the strength sessions, push yourself. Let yourself hit muscular failure, if that’s the intended stimulus for that workout. Let yourself get stronger. As you gain strength, that 10-pound wall ball won’t crank your heart rate anymore. Then, it’ll be time to graduate to the 12-pound ball and, later, heavier yet. But in the meantime, stay with the 10-pound ball. Get the full range of motion. And shoot for the proper stimulus.
Not sure what weight is appropriate for you? Ask a coach! She/he will help guide you in the right direction based on your abilities and only your abilities. Not sure of your own abilities? Schedule a goal-setting session with TJ by emailing [email protected]. Or email me at [email protected] to try 1-on-1 personal training sessions whenever it fits in your schedule. In those sessions, we can find your range and dial in the perfect scale for you. And over time, you can watch those numbers grow as you progress in the programming.
Our goal at CrossFit Jai is to give you the best hour of your day and help you get more fit. Finding the appropriate scale is a key piece of that goal.