Every month you can be sure of two things: one, your rent/mortgage will be due and two, Alchemy CrossFit will have a new Contest of the Month (CoTM) that will challenge you to your max.
The CoTM isn’t just a random challenge we throw at you; it’s part of our programming. You may not be conscious of it, but often we’ll have worked the skill the month before so you’re primed to kick it up a notch when it becomes the CoTM. The whole point of the CoTM is to work a skill with greater intensity and focus and, ideally, have a breakthrough in your capabilities.
This month’s CoTM is the wall ball, and while it seems like such a mundane task, just throwing a ball against a wall, those who’ve done it understand how truly challenging it is to keep pushing after 20 or 30 or 40 reps.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you kick this month’s challenge into high gear:
Fire your legs
Wall balls tax two different areas of your body: your shoulders and your legs. For 99 per cent of people their legs are going to be stronger than their arms so make sure you use them. When you’re in the squat portion of the movement, make sure to drive out of the bottom of the squat quickly. This will carry your power all the way through your body so you do not have to overtax your shoulders. It should feel like the ball is floating up and out of the power of your squat not that you’re having to throw it up.
There is a way to catch a weighted ball that reduces the load, and while it may not render it entirely weightless, it will make a real difference in how you feel after 20 reps and counting. So, don’t ‘catch’ the ball and then squat, receive the falling ball when you’re descending into your squat. It’s a subtle distinction but one that softens the ball’s impact, gives a kind of rhythm to your movement, which in turn, positively effects your speed and rep count, and ensures that you don’t squat the weight every rep. Another perk: by reducing the amount of time you spend with the ball in your hands you give your shoulders a much-needed break.
If you are always grabbing the Rx ball and getting under 30 reps in the time allotted then it is time to check your ego and scale the weight. If you need a clue as to what weight is right for you, pick up a 20lb or 14lb ball and ask yourself, can I do 150 wall balls of these under five minutes? Ultimately choose a ball that allows you to work a solid minute without having to break or pause. A lighter weight will also free you up to focus on putting into practice the tips above.
Give these tips a shot next time wall balls come up in a workout, warm up or CoTM!
Broder McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit.