5 Great Ways to Use a Wall (Yes, a Wall) for a Better Workout

The wall will help your lifting technique and increase your tension.

When you’re in the gym, you’re surrounded by machines, bands, barbells, squat racks, kettlebells and various other tools that help make you stronger.

But there’s one tool, one that you’re overlooking, and it’s been right in front of you all along: yep, it’s the wall. 

When the wall is used with weights the right way, it can add tension, variety, and help improve your technique on certain exercises.

Here are 5 wall exercises to help make you better.

1. Face The Wall Squats

Why it’s good

This exercise focuses on squatting with good technique. If anything is out of whack, the wall will give you feedback.

Face the wall squats encourage upper body tension, which even experienced lifters sometimes neglect, and they ensure that you start the squat by breaking at the hips instead of bending the knees.  

Form tips and programming suggestions

A good starting point is standing 6 inches away from the wall. If any part of your body touches, step further away.  And if it’s easy, step a little closer. Perform this slowly and deliberately as to not touch the wall.

Do this as part of your warm up for 6-8 reps to dial in your squat form.

2. Wall press deadbug

Why it’s good

Pressing into the wall increases the tension on your core, which is a step up from the regular deadbug. And you get to control the intensity by how hard you press.

If you’re doing an exercise that needs a lot of core stability, this is an excellent drill to fire up your core.

Form tips and programming suggestions

Having your head close to the wall makes this easier on your shoulders. Breathe all the air out as you extend the leg and make sure to smash your lower back into the ground.

Doing 1-2 sets of 6-8 reps before you hit the squat rack works well.

[Related: 3 fun variations on the classic deadbug]

3. Half kneeling wall press

Why it’s good

Being in the half kneeling position takes the lower body out of the lift, helping you to focus on your pressing power. Plus, it helps to make you more aware of your torso’s position relative to your hips: if you arch your lower back, you’ll know about it.

Pressing in the wall with the non-working arm activates the serratus anterior, an important muscle for shoulder performance and health. And if scapular winging is a problem, this exercise will help fix it.

Form tips and programming suggestions

Get within arm’s distance of the wall and drop into a solid half kneeling position. Press through or ‘reach’ through the wall while pressing with the opposite hand. You’ll notice the increase in tension, so use a lighter weight than usual.

This is not a strength exercise. This is better used as an accessory exercise, or if you’re coming back to shoulder pressing after an injury. Doing 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side is a great starting point.

[Related: 7 moves for a stronger, shredded serratus]

4. Wall push ups

Why it’s good

This turns the regular push up into an intense full body experience. To keep your feet raised against the wall requires more core strength than a regular push up. You control your own intensity by walking your feet up the wall (harder) or walking your feet closer to the floor (easier).

And if your gym doesn’t have a decline bench, this exercise is a good substitute.

Form tips and programming suggestions

Because of the increased core strength demand, arching the lower back is an issue. So, when you feel this happening, stop the set. And you’re going to have to experiment to find your best hand and foot position.

Use as an accessory exercise on upper body/total body training days in place of your regular push-ups. 3 sets of 8-15 reps will do the trick.

Remember, this is a very tough exercise: beginners need not apply.

5. Wall Biceps curls

Why it’s good

Well, it’s biceps exercise. Your guns can never be too big, right?

What the wall does is help to minimize the upper body “swing” that sometimes occurs during the lift, focusing more on the biceps to generate momentum. And if you didn’t know already, biceps curls play an important role in shoulder health.

Forms tips and programming suggestions

Keep your head, upper, and lower back against the wall. You may need to adjust your foot position to achieve all this. Use a lighter weight than usual and check your ego at the door.

Using an empty barbell, try to get to 50 reps using as many sets as it takes at the end of your training. This will test your mental strength as well as your biceps.

Wrapping Up

It turns out the wall is for more than hanging mirrors on. Using the wall as another tool in your toolbox will add variety, give you feedback, and increase the difficulty of certain exercises.

Just make sure the soles of your shoes are clean before hitting those push-ups.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image via Muscle & Strength on YouTube

Shane McLean

Shane McLean

Shane McLean is a Certified Personal Trainer who’s worked with a wide variety of clients, from the general population client all the way to ex-Navy seals and college athletes.

Shane is a big believer in seeing exercise as a gift for the body and never a punishment — exercise should be as enjoyable as possible and never just a “work” out.

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