CrossFit Wall Walks: How-To, Tips, and Mistakes to Avoid

Table of Contents

What is the Wall Walks CrossFit exercise?

The Wall Walk, also known as “wall climbs,” is a foundational CrossFit body weight exercise that challenges both strength and technique.

Starting face-down on the floor, the objective is to walk your feet up a wall while moving your hands backward, aiming to achieve a vertical position.

It’s not just about muscle power; it requires balance, coordination, and a keen understanding of body mechanics.

This movement is a blend of upper body strength, core strength and stability, and mental determination. Whether you’re new to CrossFit or have been at it for a while, the Wall Walk is a valuable exercise to incorporate into your routine, offering both physical and mental strength benefits.

Ready to tackle it? Let’s get started!

wall walks tips

How to perform a CrossFit Wall Walk

Throughout the exercise, it’s crucial to maintain a tight core and ensure your shoulders are stacked above your wrists. The Wall Walk is not just a test of strength but also of control, balance, and coordination. As you practice, focus on smooth, deliberate movements, ensuring safety and maximizing the exercise’s benefits.

Starting position

Begin face-down on the floor in a prone position, chest and waist touch the floor, hands rest next to your chest. Keep your feet flat against the base of a wall.

wall walks starting position

The ascent

Push through your palms into the plank position, move your hip up and back and start walking your feet up the wall. Simultaneously, walk your hands back, moving closer to the wall.

Keep your core engaged and maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.

The top position

Aim to reach a point where your chest or nose is close to the wall, achieving a near-vertical position.

wall walks Crossfit top position

The descent

Carefully reverse the movement. Slowly walk your hands forward while simultaneously walking your feet down the wall, returning to the initial starting position.

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Key performance points

1. Core Engagement:
One of the foundational elements of the Wall Walk is maintaining a strong, engaged core throughout the movement.
This not only provides stability but also ensures that the exercise targets the intended muscle groups. Think of your core as the central powerhouse guiding the movement.

2. Shoulder Stability:
The shoulders play a pivotal role in the Wall Walk. It’s essential to keep them stacked above the wrists, especially during the ascent and descent. This alignment provides optimal support and reduces the risk of injury.

3. Hand Placement:
As you walk your hands backward during the ascent, pay special attention to small, controlled movements. Avoid taking large steps with your hands, as this can throw off your balance and make the movement more challenging.

4. Controlled Movement:
The Wall Walk is not a race. Prioritize control over speed. Each step, whether with your hands or feet, should be deliberate and measured.

5. Full Range of Motion:
Aim for a full range of motion, going as vertical as your ability, strength, technique and shoulder mobility allows. Over time, as your strength and technique improve, you’ll find yourself getting with your hands closer to the wall.

Executable advice and tips for the wall walk

Big Hand Steps:
One of the most common mistakes beginners make when they are unsure about the exercise is taking small, hurried baby steps. Instead, try to reach the wall with three – maximum four – larger, controlled steps.

Maximize the First Foot Step:
When initiating the ascent, make your first step off the floor with one foot as large as possible. This allows you to cover a significant distance right from the start, setting a strong foundation for the rest of the movement.

wall walks first step

Maintain a Neutral Spine:
It’s tempting to arch the back, especially when trying to reach the top position. However, arching creates an unstable bridge-like posture, making the exercise more challenging and straining the lower back.
Instead, focus on keeping a neutral spine, engaging the core to support this alignment.

Minimize Time at the Top:
While reaching the vertical handstand position is an achievement, lingering there can quickly drain your energy.
Once you’ve reached the top, initiate the descent immediately. This conserves energy and ensures a smoother transition to the next repetition.

Controlled Descent:
Resist the urge to slump back down quickly once you’ve reached the top.
A controlled descent not only protects your joints and muscles from sudden impact but also maximizes the exercise’s benefits.
Think of the descent as an opportunity to further engage and challenge your muscles.

Practice and Patience:
Like all exercises, the Wall Walk requires consistent practice.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t master it immediately. With each attempt, focus on these tips, and over time, you’ll notice improvements in both your technique and strength.

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The benefits of CrossFit wall walks

Increased Upper Body Strength:
One of the most evident benefits of Wall Walks is the enhancement of upper body strength.
As you push against the ground and control your body’s movement up and down the wall, you’re engaging multiple muscle groups, including the deltoids, triceps, lats and pectorals.
Over time, consistent practice can lead to significant gains in upper body power.

Enhanced Shoulder Mobility:
Wall Walks are not just about strength; it’s also a fantastic exercise for improving shoulder mobility.
The movement requires a full range of motion in the shoulders, helping to stretch and strengthen them simultaneously.

Boosted Coordination and Balance:
Successfully executing a Wall Walk requires a harmonious blend of balance and coordination.
As you walk your feet up the wall and move your hands backward, you’re training your body to work in unison, enhancing proprioception and body awareness.

Overcoming a Mental Hurdle:
For many athletes, especially those new to CrossFit or inversion exercises, the Wall Walk can be intimidating.
However, mastering this movement offers a significant mental boost.
It’s a testament to one’s ability to overcome challenges, pushing past mental barriers, and achieving what once seemed unattainable.

Core Engagement and Strengthening:
Beyond the upper body, the Wall Walk is a fantastic core workout.
Maintaining stability and a neutral spine during the movement engages the abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back, leading to a stronger and more stable core.

Improved Posture:
Regular practice of Wall Walks can contribute to better posture.
The emphasis on a neutral spine and engaged core muscles helps in reinforcing the importance of maintaining an upright and aligned posture, even outside of the gym.

Mental Focus and Determination:
The Wall Walk is as much a test of mental focus as it is of physical strength.
The need to maintain balance, coordination, and control throughout the movement requires intense concentration, training the mind to stay focused on the task at hand.

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Mistakes to avoid with CrossFit wall walks

1. Starting the Ascent Too Early:
One common mistake is initiating the walk up the wall prematurely.
Before you begin your ascent, it’s crucial to first establish a solid “downward dog” position.
This sets the foundation for the movement. Starting too early can lead to a very flat angle relative to the floor, making the exercise not only exhausting but also nearly impossible to execute correctly.

2. Taking Small Baby Steps with Hands:
While it might seem like taking small steps with your hands provides more control, it can quickly deplete your energy reserves.
Each tiny movement burns energy that could be better utilized in subsequent reps. Instead, aim for controlled, yet slightly larger hand movements to conserve energy.

3. Lingering in the Handstand Position:
Reaching the handstand position is an accomplishment, but celebrating it for too long can be counterproductive.
The longer you stay vertical, the more energy you expend.
Once you’ve reached the top, it’s best to initiate the descent immediately to conserve strength for the next repetition.

4. Hesitation During the Descent:
If you took larger steps during the ascent, you should be able to replicate those steps during the descent.
Hesitating and taking tiny steps on the way down can throw off your rhythm and make the movement more challenging.

5. Rushing the Descent:
On the flip side, it’s essential to avoid rushing the descent so much that you crash back to the ground.
While it might save a few seconds, it significantly increases the risk of injury.
A controlled descent ensures that you’re protecting your joints and muscles from undue strain.

6. Arching your back:
maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
Arching the back or allowing the hips to sag can lead to strain and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

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