CrossFit follows a theoretical hierarchy of development for its athletes. This hierarchy starts with nutrition. The fuel put into the body will necessarily affect the performance outcome in the gym or on the field. Metabolic conditioning is second in this model. An athlete must avoid focusing on just one energy system, say their aerobic pathway, and instead constantly vary the length and intensity of their cardio training to ensure optimal development of all three pathways. Gymnastics, or body-weight skills, are the third tier in this model. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips and handstands are a must to ensure that an athlete has the proper joint dynamics and integrity necessary to take on the higher demands of weightlifting. CrossFit includes weightlifting and throwing in the fourth tier of this model. The weight training program adhered to by CrossFit includes weightlifting (the clean and jerk and snatch), powerlifting (the squat, dead lift and press) and medicine balls for throwing work.
Traditionally, medicine ball work has been viewed as power training, accelerating a sub-maximal load at maximal velocity. In the world of CrossFit this is still true, but the intent is different. Here the objective is a combination of physical training and general movement practice. CrossFitters have a tendency to work with Dynamax medicine balls which are oversized versions of the original. These implements provide a potent stimulus for strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.
The wall ball is a staple CrossFit exercise and is a highly functional way to develop your cardiorespiratory system while at the same time strengthening your arms and legs and improving your accuracy. The movement is basically a front squat and push-press combination with the added challenge of hitting a target between eight and ten feet from the ground; you’re taking a medicine ball and throwing it at a target on the wall above you (hence “wall ball”), starting in a squat position and ending fully extended prior to catching the ball. Women shoot for the eight foot target while men shoot for the ten foot target. This can be done with any weight medicine ball but CrossFit usually prescribes 14 pounds for women and 20 pounds for men.
If you have never done wall balls before start off slowly. Try to perform 12 shots within 30 seconds. If that is successful then try adding 12 shots for each additional 30 seconds until you are able to perform 150 wall ball shots within six minutes. If at some point you should happen to fall behind this pace, stop and rest and try again. The best of the best can complete 150 shots with a 20 pound ball in less then five minutes. If the athlete needs a greater challenge the weight of the ball can be increased or the target can be raised.
Another great workout can be had with a game called Hoover Ball. Hoover Ball is played with a medicine ball and an eight-foot volleyball net and is scored like tennis. This game burns roughly three times more calories then tennis and is both fun and challenging. Next time you are looking for a fun workout give it a try!