Working out has gone through a creative transformation ever since the first covid-19 lockdown of March 2020. For those who were used to the gym, having to workout at home meant shopping for a lot of exercise equipment: resistance bands, pull-up bars, foam rollers and dumbbells. And as we explored ways to use everything from buckets of water for arms day to doing hamstring curls just using socks, a realisation set in that it may not need as much as we thought it would to achieve a workout. Sometimes, even a wall is enough.
As fears of a third wave gather like an impending storm which may or may not arrive, it is smart to be prepared to get creative again when it comes to exercising. Keeping that in mind, here are four ways to use just a wall to give you the muscle burn which most fitness enthusiasts chase.
Squat combinations: Squatting is important. So combine your bodyweight squats with a squat hold with wall support. This will give each set you do a brilliant finish. Squat holds (or wall sits) are not as easy as they seem. After 30-45 seconds (even with a wall behind you), it is normal to feel your legs shaking with fatigue. The big advantage here is that your back will remain in the correct posture as you feel the burn through the quads and hamstrings.
There are other squat combinations using a wall which might interest you: the single leg split squat with one leg on the wall, and the wall-sit-plus-clam where you bring your knees together for one rep while in the wall sit position so that the inner thighs are also working. For those in the intermediate to advanced levels, using a high wall to do ball squats is a great idea. All you do is bounce a ball (any ball, unless it’s a weighted med balls) off the wall during every rep: throw the ball on your way up, and catch it on the way down during your squats. Wall sits are also easier on the knees so that’s another added advantage.
Posture-based workouts: While there are many ways to do this, including the all-time favourite exercise of sliding your hands up and down a wall while sitting with your back against it. YouTube fitness channel CriticalBench has narrowed it down to four moves which are easy to do, hardly take time, and are very effective. They include the wall slides, angels, hip hinges and sitting in butterfly pose, not just to make your back straighter, but also to balance out your lower body balance.
Upper body muscle-building workouts: Posture work and leg day is doable even without a wall, but what about building stronger and bigger chest and shoulder muscles? The wall comes to the rescue once again: start with the basic wall walk, where you walk up the wall from a pushup position, and walk back down in a slow, controlled manner. One can move on to more advanced moves after getting comfortable with the wall walk, adding a pushup (or five) at the top of every wall walk, before attempting shoulder presses while aligned with the wall. Essentially you’re doing an overhead press while in an upside down position, meaning gravity is not just against you, but you need to balance yourself, be strong, and also press up using bodyweight only. The key to using the wall for more difficult pushups like this is to not let your lower back collapse under the strain, so progress over a couple of weeks and keep testing that core strength.
The final level of this challenge is to do a handstand pushup using a wall, which will certainly need you to trust your body a lot more than a wall-walk pushup, so progress slowly. But once you get there, this is quite possibly the best wall-based muscle-building exercise.
Rehabilitation workouts: Even if you’re not using a wall for strenuous workouts, it is still an excellent prop for hip openers and deep chest and shoulder stretches, all of which are important after you’ve put yourself through any routine (wall or no wall). While something as simple as a wall-supported glute bridge will help, Yogini Melbourne has posted a brilliant 20-minute video for a wall-based chest and shoulder relief workout which also includes stretches for the hamstrings.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.