Wall balls are the name for both a piece of equipment and an exercise with the ball. Both help you work your muscles to a nice extent.
The wall ball exercise works your deltoids (main shoulder muscle), scapular muscles (shoulder blade muscles), triceps (back upper arm), trapezius (upper shoulders/neck), pectoral muscles (chest), quadriceps (front thigh), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thigh), calves, and core (waist).
Of these, the deltoids, scapular muscles, triceps, and trapezius will typically have the hardest time.
Other wall ball exercises can focus on different muscles. For example, the side toss will focus a lot more on your oblique muscles and less on your shoulder and leg muscles.
Whether you will actually grow and strengthen the muscles you work depends on things like the wall ball weight, your number of repetitions, nutrition, and rest.
With the right choices, wall balls can be great for training muscle power and even some muscle mass.
Wall balls muscles worked
You can also do wall balls in a cardiovascular way. Even then, it can be interesting to see in what muscles you train endurance.
That aside, the main muscles worked with wall balls include your:
- Deltoids (main shoulder muscle)
- Scapular muscles (shoulder blade muscles)
- Triceps (back upper arm)
- Trapezius (upper shoulders/neck)
- Pectoral muscles (chest)
- Quadriceps (front thigh)
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thigh)
- Core muscles (waist) like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae
The upper body muscles besides your core muscles are the ones that power the wall ball push at the top of the movement.
Before that, your leg muscles, especially your quadriceps, will already create a lot of upward force.
Next, core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae will keep your upper body upright. Especially your abs have to work a nice amount to keep your shoulders from falling back.
That aside, wall balls are versatile pieces of fitness equipment that you can use in different movements. These can work different muscles.
As an example, there is the sideways wall ball throw. This exercise mainly works your oblique muscles and not really your shoulder and leg muscles.
Another example is the wall ball sit-up where you focus on your core and lats.
Do wall balls build muscle?
Most people go straight to shoulder presses, squats, and similar exercises to grow the muscles above.
However, more explosive exercises like wall balls may also offer results if you do them with the right resistance, repetitions, and sets (1).
One review of plyometric studies suggests you want to do wall balls in ranges of 5 to 15 repetitions and 2 to 15 sets with loads up to 40% of 1RM to grow your muscles (2).
As you get stronger over time, you will have to increase the weight of the wall balls you use to keep seeing progress.
A limitation of the review is that most of the plyometric studies are done with leg exercises. That being said, the same ranges should apply to the upper body muscles you work with wall balls.
Something else that is important to note is that people who are more experienced with resistance training may not see that much muscle growth from doing wall balls.
Additionally, even if you see results, you will not grow and strengthen all of the muscles you work with wall balls to the same extent.
The leg muscles involved are relatively strong which means you need a lot of resistance to grow them. Doing the wall ball exercise is likely not enough to grow and strengthen these in significant amounts.
On the other hand, wall balls can definitely train some of the weaker muscles like your deltoids, scapular muscles, triceps, and upper trapezius.
In short, building muscle is definitely one of the benefits of wall balls. At the same time, you still need to approach your training right and even then, experienced lifters may not see that many results.
How to work your muscles harder with wall balls
You can make changes to your wall ball workouts to make them more challenging and in turn, hopefully see more results.
One of the main ways to do this is to pick a heavier model from the wall ball storage racks until the movement becomes hard enough to stay in the set and rep ranges for your training goals.
Additionally, you can do a variety of different wall ball exercises.
Let’s say you only have a limited number of (low) wall ball weights to choose from.
In that case, the movements that focus on weaker muscles like your shoulders and core typically allow for more relative muscle growth and strength progress.
You can still do the exercises that also focus on the strong leg muscles in a situation like that. However, these will typically be more cardiovascular-focused due to the lack of resistance.
Why are wall balls so hard for you?
There are a few potential reasons why wall balls are so hard for you.
First of all, you need to ask yourself whether you get out of breath or fatigue your muscles first.
In the case of the first option, wall balls are so hard for you because your cardiovascular system is the weak factor.
On the other hand, if certain muscles fatigue first, wall balls are challenging because certain muscles do not have enough power or endurance.
In that case, you can feel which muscles are the weakest factors. These will typically include your front deltoids and/or triceps.