How to Use a Wall During Your Next Workout Routine

How Hitting the Wall During Your Workout Could be a Good Thing

wall workout
Laura Williams

Usually "hitting the wall" during exercise is considered a bad thing - you've run out of energy, can't go any farther... you're just, well, done.  But it's time to put the idiom to rest and think of the wall as a fitness tool rather than a barrier. 

You've probably heard of wall squats and wall pushups, but the wall can be used for more than these simple exercises. By placing your feet against the wall with your hands on the floor, you can enjoy a killer upper body workout while more fully engaging your core. Plus, during exercises where your heart is above your head - exercises referred to as inversions - you can increase blood flow to the brain and improve lymphatic circulation, ultimately stimulating the immune system. 

You don't have to perform all these exercises as a complete workout (your arms and shoulders are bound to get tired); rather, chose one or two moves and incorporate them into your normal routine. All you need to get started is a wall.

Glute Wall Climbs

glute wall climbs
Laura Williams

Work your glutes, hamstrings, core and calves by walking your way up and down the wall. 

Lie on your back, hips about 18- to 24-inches away from the wall, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the wall. Tighten your core and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. From here, walk your feet up the wall as high as you can, then walk them back down to the starting position, keeping your hips high and glutes engaged throughout. 

Try the exercise for 30 to 60 seconds. 

Nosedive Mountain Climbers

nosedive mountain climbers
Laura Williams

You've probably done mountain climbers before with your feet on the ground... but you probably haven't tried doing them while supporting more of your weight with your shoulders and trying to maintain your balance with your feet extended over your head. 

You're in for a treat. 

Position yourself in a high pushup, perpendicular to the wall, but too close the the wall to extend your legs fully. Carefully step your legs up the wall behind you until you can extend them more fully, your body forming an angled line. From this position, draw one knee in toward your chest, then quickly switch legs, extending your bent knee and drawing your opposite knee in. Switch back and forth between leg position as fast as you can. 

Try the exercise for 20 seconds (perfect for Tabata-style high intensity interval training), then extend the length as you get better, aiming to do it for 60 seconds at a stretch. 

Handstand Hip Extensions

handstand hip extension
Laura Williams

I'll admit, I can't do a handstand. I can, however, use a wall to help me get into a quasi-handstand position. 

Kneel in front of and perpendicular to the wall, facing away. Place your hands firmly on the ground roughly shoulder-width apart and keep them extended as you position your feet on the wall and start walking them upward. As you do so, tilt forward from the hips and let your head hang down until your body forms an upside down "L" with the wall. 

Take one foot off the wall and tighten the same-side glute, using it to help extending the leg straight up overhead. Keeping your knee straight, lower the extended leg back toward the wall, stopping just before touching. 

Aim to do 8-12 repetitions per side. Rest between sides, lowering yourself back to kneeling before you continue. 

Bucking Broncos

bucking broncos
Laura Williams

For a good burst of cardio, try your hand at the bucking broncos. Crouch perpendicular to the wall, facing away, your hands and the balls of your feet in contact with the ground, knees bent, hips up. You may want to position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width for balance. 

In one powerful movement, engage your core and shift your weight forward over your palms as you jump your legs up, tapping your feet to the wall, before immediately bringing them back to the starting position. Continue this "bucking" motion as fast as you can, performing as many successive reps as possible. 

Aim to perform the exercise for 20 to 30 seconds. 

Handstand Wall Climbs

shoulder wall climbs
Laura Williams

Handstand wall climbs are the exact reverse of glute wall climbs. The intent and action are similar, but the muscles worked are opposite. 

Position yourself perpendicular to the wall in a high pushup position, but close enough to the wall that you can't extend your legs fully. Step your feet up onto the wall, knees bent so you can maintain a pushup position. From here, walk your legs up the wall as high as you can, then walk them back down to the starting position. 

Perform the exercise for 30 to 60 seconds. 

Baby Handstand Pushups

baby handstand pushups
Laura Williams

Handstand pushups are one of those extra-tough exercises that require a combination of strength and guts. I, personally, don't have enough of either. The baby handstand pushups enable you to mimic the motion of an actual handstand pushup, but with less strength or balance required. 

Position yourself on hands and knees perpendicular to the wall. Shift your weight forward onto your palms, arms extended, and begin walking your feet up the wall until your body forms a straight line from hips to hands. Keep your knees bent and press the balls of your feet into the wall to help support some of your weight. 

From here, bend your elbows outward and begin lowering your head toward the floor, only going as far as you comfortably can. Reverse the movement, press through your palms and extend your arms fully. 

Aim to perform six to 10 repetitions. 

Wall Bridges

wall bridges
Laura Williams

The wall bridges are just like your typical glute bridge, but instead of keeping your feet on the ground, you place them on the wall. This makes the range of motion of the bridge bigger. 

LIe on your back and place your feet flat on the wall, knees bent. Tighten your core, press through your heels and lift your hips from the wall until your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. Keeping your glutes tight, lower your hips back toward the floor, stopping just before you touch down. 

Perform 20 to 30 repetitions. 

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