I have a love-hate relationship with the wall ball exercise. I love it because it’s a full-body movement that hits the lower and upper body. Plus, it really elevates the heart rate.
I hate it because it hurts, hurts so good that is. A few reps of wall balls and your legs, shoulders, and lungs are on fire.
Walls balls are a great exercise if you like to work out at home or are in a pinch for something quick and effective. Crossfit has an entire workout dedicated solely to the exercise.
However, to do the wall ball exercise you actually need a wall ball. But they can get pretty expensive. Depending on the weight of it you’re looking at anywhere from $30 to $100.
Today I’m going to show you how to make your own wall ball for less than $10 bucks and for most of you less than $5. There’s also a workout at the end that you can try.
WHAT IS A WALL BALL OR MEDICINE BALL?
A wall ball is another type of medicine ball. It’s given a different name to distinguish the types of things that you can do with it.
Soft Gel Medicine Balls:
These medicine balls are made from soft vinyl and filled with gel. These medicine balls do not float, bounce, and absorb impact very well. They are usually smaller in size, ranging from ones that can fit in your hand to watermelon-sized. Because they don’t bounce they are usually used in exercises where you will throw or slam them. A lot of physical therapists use them in rehab work, ballet instructors will use them for building posture strength, and you’ll even see them in some yoga and Pilates classes.
Air Filled Medicine Balls:
These medicine balls are great for traveling purposes as you can fill them up and deflate them. They float which makes them great for water-based exercises and they also bounce which makes them a great option for plyometric exercises. The more air they are filled with the greater bounce you will get out of them.
Slam Ball or Ball Slam:
These medicine balls are usually made with a very tough rubber shell and filled with anything ranging from iron dust to air and sand. They’re great for throwing, slamming, and carrying exercises. They’re similar to the soft gel medicine balls but usually more durable and larger in size.
Hard Shell Medicine Balls:
These are usually made with a rubber outside and air on the inside. They have a little bounce to them so if you slam them on the ground get ready for a bloody nose. They’re good for balance work, plyometrics, and exercises where you’d throw them against a wall and want them to bounce back. The bad news is they’re not very durable. I recommend not slamming them because they will break pretty quickly.
The last of our medicine balls are usually made with a vinyl covering and filled with cotton batting or something soft. They’re usually overstuffed which means that they’ll keep their shape very well if they are dropped, hit, or thrown. They’re typically used for the wall ball exercise, stability, core, thrown, and often used in self-defense classes or MMA for striking exercises.
They do not bounce but this does not mean you should slam them. Too much of this and they often burst at the seams. If you decide to buy one make sure that they are triple stitched at the seams and have crosstie laces. This will make them more durable.
The DIY wall ball that you’ll be learning to make today is a combination of the slam ball and wall ball. It will allow you to do the wall ball exercise, train your core, do stability work, and add some variety and difficulty to your bodyweight training.
HOW TO WORKOUT WITH A WALL BALL
There are tons of different exercises that you can do with the various medicine balls mentioned above.
Just about any exercise, you can think of can be modified so that you can use a medicine ball instead of other pieces of equipment. For example, a deadlift with a barbell can be done with a medicine ball, walking lunges with dumbbells can be done with a medicine ball by placing it on your shoulder, and you can even substitute a barbell or dumbbell push press with a medicine ball.
I’m not going to dive into every exercise that you can do with a medicine ball but I’m confident that you get the idea that you can do just about any exercise with it. Below are a couple of exercises that will hit every major muscle group that you can do with your DIY medicine ball.
Medicine ball deadlift
Works the quads, butt cheeks, and hamstrings
Medicine ball alternating overhead press:
Works the shoulders and triceps
Medicine ball body squat
Works the quads, butt cheeks, and hamstrings
Medicine ball alternating lunge
Works the quads, butt cheeks, and hamstrings
Medicine ball bent over row
Works the upper back, biceps, and lower back (from the isometric hold)
Medicine ball good mornings
Works the hamstrings and lower back
Medicine ball push-up
Works the chest, triceps, and shoulders
If you’ve got some superhero strength then a medicine ball might not be enough of a challenge but for those of you that are just getting into the fitness game, workout at home, or are looking for general improvement in health and fitness then it’s perfect for you.
Most medicine ball/wall ball work is done to improve muscular endurance, balance, and coordination. You’ll often do 15 or more reps per set when you use one.
CIRCUIT WORKOUTS USING A WALL BALL
“Karen” 150 Wall ball shots for time.
This workout will hit your legs, shoulders, and is what I like to call an oxygen sucker. The goal is to hit a 10-foot target 150 times as fast as possible with a 20# wall ball for men and 14# wall ball for women.
If you’re a beginner I recommend using a lighter ball and/or aiming for a shorter target. Here’s an example of the workout. It seems easy enough right? Only one exercise for 150 reps, no problem. Give it a shot and leave your time and some notes on your experience with the workout in the comments below.
10 Minute AMRAP (as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes)
The goal of the workout is to finish as many rounds and repetitions as possible with good form in 10 minutes of the exercises below.
- 10 pull-ups (or 15 ring rows or inverted rows)
- 15 medicine ball slams
- 10 toes to bar (or 20-star situps)
- 15 wall balls
One round is equal to doing all four exercises in a row with as little rest as possible (but work at a pace that allows you to keep good form and is comfortable for your skill and level of conditioning).
Once you have finished around you will immediately start again with the pull-ups (or ring rows or inverted rows) and try to complete another round. When your 10-minute limit is up you will add how many rounds you completed and if you finished any extra reps as well.
Let’s say you finished 4 complete rounds but also got in 10 pull-ups and 7 medicine ball slams before your 10 minutes ran out. Your score for this workout would be 4 rounds and 17 reps (if this does not make sense please give me a shout).
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN MEDICINE OR WALL BALL
There are plenty of ways to make your own medicine ball and I’ll actually link you to those at the end of the post.
Below is the way that I have always done it and will continue to do it unless I find a better way. It’s super simple, can be done in a matter of minutes, and costs next to nothing. You probably have most of the stuff you’ll need lying around your house. Not only are you going to get an awesome piece of exercise equipment out of this but you’ll also be doing a little decluttering. #winwin
The medicine/wall ball that you’ll be making is great for ball slams, wall ball exercise, adding variety, and a challenge to most bodyweight exercises. It will be a great tool for you LimitlessSUPERHERO’s that work out at home or don’t have a ton of time and need something that will help push you in a relatively short period.
WHAT YOU NEED
Please see the notes below for other recommendations and tips
- 1 bag of pea gravel (40-50 lbs will make a couple of medicine balls)
- 1 roll of gorilla tape
- Kitchen knife (or utility knife)
- Optional: A cute sidekick (see video below)
Notes: Instead of pea gravel you can use leveling sand, wood pellets, rubber mulch, or ice melt salt. All of the equipment (except for the cute sidekick) can be purchased at Home Depot or any other home improvement store. You can also use a volleyball, soccer ball, or other types of balls (grown-up minds people) for the shell of your medicine ball. If you are making a lighter one I suggest using a smaller ball.
The total cost per medicine ball will be anywhere from $4 to $15 depending on what materials you already have on hand.
The time to make your medicine ball will be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how handy you are and if you want to keep all of your fingers or not 🙂
HOW TO CONSTRUCT YOUR MEDICINE OR WALL BALL
In the video below I outline how you can make your medicine ball in less than 10 minutes. If you don’t see a video below please click here.
Step 1: Find the spot that you would normally inflate the ball. Measure about 2″ inches or roughly a thumb distance away from the inflation hole.
Using your kitchen or utility knife cut a vertical slit going down from this spot until you reach the black rubber line on the basketball. Make sure not to cut the black rubber piece by stopping a few centimeters short of it.
Now measure 2″ inches or roughly a thumb distance away from the inflation hole on the other side. Again, cut a vertical slit going down towards the black rubber line on the ball. Again, make sure not to cut the black rubber line.
Extend both of those vertical cuts about a 1″ inch above the inflation hole. Now cut a horizontal slit so that you end up with a flap.
Step 2: Cut a small hole in your pea gravel bag (or whatever source of filling you’ve decided to use).
Secure the basketball somehow (I just put it in-between my legs and begin to fill the basketball until full. This is not a gas station so make sure to top it off so that it is full. You may have to shimmy and shake the ball around so that the gravel levels out. If you don’t fill it up completely the pea gravel will move around too much in there and may open up the flap.
When filling the basketball full it should weigh anywhere from 18 to 22 pounds. If you want a lighter ball you can simply fill it up with less gravel. I recommend using a smaller ball instead (volleyball or soccer ball), and filling it up until it is full. A volleyball or soccer ball will weigh about 10 to 15 pounds.
If you only have a basketball on hand and need a lighter ball you can fill it up with enough pea gravel to get you to your desired weight and then stuff it with foam.
To help with pouring the gravel into the basketball you can make a homemade funnel using a 1-gallon water jug. Or you can use a plastic cup to scoop out the gravel and slowly pour it.
Step 3: Close the flap and seal it tight using the gorilla tape.
First, seal it by taping the flap up horizontally and then vertically. For those of you that plan on slamming it or letting it drop I recommend using a tire patch kit with glue. You may also want to completely cover the ball in gorilla tape. This will make the grip a little more slippery but will make sure that it stays closed for a while.
Step 4: Admire your work.
This medicine ball will not be as friendly as the one you would typically use for the wall ball exercise. Please keep that in mind and don’t take on to the chin 🙂
Congrats! You now have your own medicine ball/wall ball. Combine it with your DIY pull-up bar and you are ready to dominate backyard fitness.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO MAKE MY OWN?
If you don’t want to make your own medicine or wall ball here are a few options that I recommend. I have at one time owned or currently own all of these and will only make recommendations based on my experiences with them. There are hundreds of companies out there making exercise equipment so your options are endless.
Wall balls (softer)
If you’re looking for the most cost-effective option the J/Fit Medicine ball is competitively priced. However, it is definitely not as durable as some other options out there.
The Fitness Solutions Pro Wall Ball is another lower-priced option but again the durability is not as great as some of the other options out there. These can also be a little tough to break in and can even become a little lopsided if dropped often or used for striking purposes. Now with all that said you can still get a great workout in with them.
If you are a Crossfitter than you’re probably familiar with the Dynamax Medicine Ball. Although a little expensive, these things are super durable and get broken in hells-fast (yup! I just dropped a hella on you). I personally like this battle ball – super durable and has a great grip.
I figure fitness equipment is going to get beat up anyway so I always try to buy used stuff on the cheap. Check eBay, Craigslist, and Play-It-Again Sports for awesome deals.
Slam Balls (won’t bounce)
Most of the slam balls out there are priced right around the same. I’ve used a few of them and I haven’t noticed much of a difference from one brand to another. A good idea is to find a Crossfit distributor or fitness equipment dealer close to you and go and visit the place and ask if you can play with the equipment. Choose the ones that you like best.
WHAT’S A WORKOUT I CAN DO AT HOME USING MY DIY MEDICINE BALL?
One of the biggest excuses I get for not being as healthy as you would like is TIME. No one ever has enough time to get healthy, so when I post workouts on the site I like to give examples that you can do at home. Working out at home is a great way to save yourself some time. You can do it right when you wake up or get off of work and not have to worry about commuting anymore than you already do.
Pull-up bar, Olympic rings, or a place to do inverted rows
This workout is done in a circuit style. You’ll move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible. You may rest as needed and determined by your fitness level.
Once you have completed one full circuit rest exactly one minute and jump right back into another set. Do 3 to 5 sets depending on your own fitness level.
- 30 double unders (or 90 singles)
- 25 star situps
- 20 overhead medicine ball presses (10 per side) (see picture above)
- 15 wall balls
- 10 burpees
- 5 pull-ups (or 10 ring rows or 10 inverted rows)
You can make this workout easier by doing fewer reps, resting in-between exercises. Or increase rest at the end of the circuit from 1 minute to 2 or even 3 minutes.
Make it harder by doing more reps, resting less between exercises, or resting less at the end of the circuit. Or turn it into a 10, 15, or even 20-minute AMRAP (see description of AMRAP above).
photo credit: maubrowncow , photo credit 2, photo credit 3