Wall Ball Exercise Alternatives

Wall balls are a popular movement seen in functional fitness competitions, WODs, and everyday fitness. Squat patterning and increased work capacity are two benefits of performing such an exercise (less beneficial for strength and power however, so stick with squats and Olympic lifts to increase those).

In some instances (injury, skill level, lack of proper equipment) wall balls/wallballs may not be feasible, however coaches and athletes should still work to accomplish training goals/outcome with comparable exercise to not sway from their goals.

In this article, we will discuss such wall ball exercise alternatives and provide brief rationale for the inclusion of each as a wall ball exercise alter alternative.

Why Do Wall Balls?

Here are three reasons why wall balls can be beneficial to all athletes., not just for CrossFitters.

Metabolic Conditioning

Wall balls are a full range of motion exercise, employ muscles from all over the body. The legs, gluteals, core, back, shoulders, and arms are all asked to produce force, absorb force, and repeatedly react. This movement is a great way to build work capacity in a highly functional movement patterning (squat with press) that is ideal for athletes and non-athletes alike looking to find different alternatives to running or other monostructural conditioning modalities.

Functional Movement Patterning

The squat to overhead movement is an ideal movement patterning for nearly every human to learn and perfect. The wall ball can be used to increase patterning and skill in the proper squat patterning due to the front loaded movement (heels down, back vertical, and core braced). Lastly, the wall ball can be used to warm-up for strength and power sessions as it entails both active and passive control thought the fullest of ranges of motion.

Scalable Movement

No matter the fitness level, wall balls can be a great way to introduce squat mechanics. The cyclical nature will allow the brain to home in on the skill of squatting, with the front load and overhead finishing position forcing proper balance and core strength in all phases of the squat.


Wall Ball Exercise Alternatives

Sometimes coaches and athletes want to modify or progress certain movements to best fit the abilities and goals of their athletes. Below are a few wall ball exercise alternatives that can be used to increase work capacity, improve squat patterning, and can easily be modified to fit most individuals needs.

Kettlebell Thruster

The kettlebell thruster is an advanced movement that increases the demand on coordination, core strength, unilateral control, and upper back strength. In a previous article we discussed the kettlebell thruster and the immense benefits it can offer athletes of all sports and abilities.


Ball Clean

While this does not entail the ball to go overhead, this movement can be good for building work capacity and functional movement in individuals who may have issues or special considerations while going overhead. By modifying the wall ball to a ball clean you still enable a cyclical movement pattern and relatively similar movement pattern to allow for scalability working group settings.

Squat Jumps

While air squats could also be used, squat jumps done at moderate intensity (so not all out) can be a great way to patten squat mechanics, develop some triple extension capacities (let be clear that wall balls are NOT a power or strength exercises though!), and highly scalable for all levels. The lack of an overhead component can decrease slightly the heart rate response, although not significant is the athlete is jumping off the floor (increase energy demands).

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