Recently at Andfit we went through one of the Crossfit staple workouts many athletes dread the most, “Karen”: 150 wall-ball shots for time.
Some people giggled nervously at the thought of it, some people went blank. The reality is, everyone did it and everyone got through it, within an unexpected timing sometimes.
What makes the wall ball such a killer? First, it involves two weightlifting movements – the front squat and push press. Second, it works all three of your metabolic pathways at the same time. Very few exercises can do that.
To date, Mike Weaver holds the record of 150 shots at 3 meter (10 feet) using a 9kg (20-pound) medicine ball in 4:52 minutes. For the average person this might seem intimidating, but with the right practice and technique, it’s possible for many to get “Karen” done under 6 mins.
You don’t believe us? Check out our 5 tips below to do wall balls properly and more efficiently. Let’s roll!
1.Find the Right Distance from the Wall
No matter how effectively you perform the movement, if you stand too far away from the wall, then you are adding a huge amount of extra work to your wall balls and this will tire you out more quicker.
To measure the correct distance, keep the ball in goblet position in two hands with your arms fully outstretched. When the ball touches the wall then you have your sweet spot.
You should be able to throw and catch the ball without having to reposition yourself.
2. Keep the Ball Close
The ball should be as close to your body as possible during the entire movement. As with any weight, the further away from your body it is, the heavier it will seem.
To avoid the common Wall Ball Smash in your face, you need to concentrate on hand positioning on both side of the ball slightly towards the bottom of it during the catch. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. No more unwanted kisses from the ball!
3. Perfect your Squats and Push Presses
In order to do wall balls properly, you need to be able to perform front squats and push presses with proper form. Once you’re more efficient in these movements, you will notice an improvement in your wall balls too.
Performing the squat properly is essential to create enough energy to propel yourself straight back upwards which translates into the throw. You don’t need a super deep squat – your hip crease just have to break the plane of the knee joint in the squat.
When you push press, it is vital that you generate enough energy and speed to propel the bar upwards in the fastest amount of time. This is the same for wall balls. Extend the hips fast and throw the ball up with speed.
4. Rest your Arms after the Throw
Drop your arms back down just after propelling the ball upwards. This might give you you just a fraction of second to rest, yet it works as it helps you reduce fatigue in the muscles surrounding the shoulder join. A small improvement can make a big difference when we talk about endurance and volume in exercise.
5. Breath Diaphragmatically
With shallow chest breathing, you aren’t making as much room and can’t fill your lungs as much as when you take a deep belly breath. You need to obtain a 360 degrees of abdominal expansion – forward, backward, and side-to-side – without too much upward movement of the chest. This can improve your body’s use of oxygen and use your abs while you’re doing the exercise.
During wall ball try to inhale on the descent and exhale on the ascent using your diaphragm next time.
ASK YOUR COACH
Whether you are new to wall balls or are a CrossFit veteran, ask our coaches at Andfit to check your form or for more tips to perfect your wall balls.
Especially if you are new, you don’t need to start with big weights and volume. Our coaches will scale the movement appropriately for you. It might be a lighter ball and a lower target. The important thing to us is that you move with proper form and purpose.
And if you haven’t done “Karen” yet, go ahead and give it a try. She’s better than you might think.
Want to know more about our gym and training? Come have a chat with one of our coaches anyway. Book your No Sweat Intro below today!