While the name alone may not immediately trigger an image in your mind, chances are, you’ve seen one performed—whether in real life or online. What’s often thought to be a form of visual humble brag on social media actually has some seriously stellar benefits. Keep reading to find out what they are.
What is a CrossFit wall walk?
Although wall walks (also known as wall climbs) have been experimented with over the years, Ascent Protein athlete Katrin Davidsdottir, who earned the title of "Fittest Woman on Earth" (twice!), says that the movement wasn’t officially introduced to the CrossFit community until the 2021 CrossFit Open.
- Katrin Davidsdottir, In 2016, four-time CrossFit Games veteran Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir did what only two other athletes have done in the history of the CrossFit Games: win the CrossFit Games twice (Annie Thorisdottir won the Games in 2011 and 2012, and Rich Froning held the men’s title from 2011-2014). A native of Reykjavik, Iceland, the former gymnast and track athlete took 30th in her first Games appearance in 2012 after less than a year of CrossFit, improving to 24th in 2013. Famous for recouping her mental strength after a devastating event at the 2014 Europe Regional sidelined her from the Games that year, she returned in 2015 with an improved focus and took the title of Fittest Woman on Earth. Now living in Natick, Massachusetts, she proved it was no fluke with a repeat victory in 2016.
According to CrossFit.com, “the wall walk is an excellent tool for introducing the basics of inversion.” That’s because rather than kicking your legs up and performing an immediate, standalone inversion in the form of a handstand, a wall walk is executed by walking your feet up a wall behind you while in push-up (or plank) position. Once you walk your feet up to the desired height—which, depending on where it is, can require moving your hands back toward the wall, as well—you simply walk them back down and either end in a plank or a push-up before repeating the sequence based on whatever the WOD (or your own personal goal) calls for.
“It is a pretty challenging movement but very cool in a way that I feel like it is a whole lot more inclusive than other handstand variations like handstand push-ups or handstand walking,” Davidsdottir says. “It can be really scary for a lot of people to have to kick themselves all the way upside down and remain in control. With the wall walk, your stomach faces the wall which I feel gives you extra security and it gives the players’ choice on how far up the wall you would like to walk and therefore stop at an appropriately challenging height.”
How to perform a CrossFit wall walk
Hoping for a play by play so that you can incorporate this popular movement into your own exercise regimen? Davidsdottir walks us through how to perform a CrossFit wall walk in four simple steps:
1. Start on the floor.
“You start laying on your stomach on the ground, with your feet up against the wall and your hands in the bottom of a push-up position,” Davidsdottir says.
2. Push-up into the top of your push-up.
Once you’re in plank position, Davidsdottir says to tighten your core and begin your wall walk.
3. Move one foot at a time.
To begin your wall walk, Davidsdottir says to move one foot up the wall at a time. “Then follow with your hands until you are in a handstand with your nose just a couple of inches away from the wall,” she instructs.
4. Walk back down the wall.
Once you’ve gotten to the top of your handstand (or as high up the wall as you feel strong enough to walk), Davidsdottir says that you then walk your hands back forward until your feet hit the ground again. “Then bend your arms so you are back down in the bottom of a pushup position,” she says.
From there, it’s all about repetition. Will you call it quits after one? Feel motivated to push for two? Or maybe you’ll be totally inspired to aim for 10? Whatever the case may be, your body will thank you—because, remember, CrossFit wall walks have their perks.
Watch the video below to see an examples of a CrossFit wall walk:
The benefits of CrossFit wall walks
Sure, CrossFit wall walks offer an easier way to get into an assisted handstand position but it’s more than that. According to Davidsdottir, wall walks in CrossFit boost coordination, core strength, shoulder stability, and balance—and that’s just to name a few. Given that inversions put the bulk of the body weight into your upper body, Coach Shaun from Radiant Nutrition & Fitness points out that wall walks also strengthen the “upper traps, middle traps, arms, and wrists.”
Mistakes to avoid with CrossFit wall walks
In order to reap the rewards of CrossFit wall walks, however, you have to perform them correctly. According to Davidsdottir, the biggest mistake you can make is going too fast. “Your shoulders will burn out quickly, so being steady in your pace and making sure you take a good breath at the bottom of each rep is important,” she says.
If you think that CrossFit wall walks are an easy way to get out of handstands, think again.
“The first time I did a wall walk in competition was in the 2021 CrossFit Open,” Davidsdottir says. “It was super fun learning how to be more efficient at them as they have always been thought of as being a ‘scaled version,’ so high-level competitors don’t really practice them.
It turns out wall walks are a super-challenging movement, which I think was humbling for everybody and awesome for all of us to have to figure out on the fly how to be fast and efficient.” She went on to say that then seeing the entire CrossFit community learn the “new” movement together was incredibly inspiring—especially when they ended up being in a workout at the official CrossFit Games.
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