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How to Use a Wall for a Full-Body At-Home Workout

Who needs a gym when you’ve got an invisible chair to leave your thighs burning?

It’s pretty funny to think about how, a month ago, we were acting like it was only a matter of time until we were all back in the gym. Yeah, there would be some restrictions — social distancing, masks, staggered entry to reduce crowding — but it sure seemed like an inevitability.

Yeah, well, SIKE. 

At least here in California, it’s back to trying to get your workout in at home, sans StairMasters, ellipticals and weights (good for all you galaxy-brains who bought dumbbells, racks and other strength-training equipment at the start of quarantine before everywhere sold out — feeling pretty good about yourself, huh?). 

The problem is, I’ve tried basically everything to keep my at-home workout fresh — I’ve done yoga over Zoom with friends; I’ve gotten punchdrunk on virtual-reality boxing; I’ve even figured out a way to use my stairs for, like, 1,000 different exercises — but things have still grown stale (and, um, a little lackadaisical). 

To spice up my at-home workout then, I asked Damien Brown, a personal trainer I met pre-pandemic, where I should turn next. Essentially, he told me to take a good, long look at my walls. “Everyone’s got them,” he offers, “and there’s lots you can do with them.” 

Like what, you ask? 

Honestly, so much that it would be ridiculous to list every exercise here. But Brown was kind enough to break down some of the most essential wall workouts per which parts of the body they tax the most. 

Spoiler alert: Your core is really going to be feeling it.

Quads and Core: Wall Sits

The granddaddy of wall workouts, wall sits are kind of like the wall version of a plank, in that you’re constantly engaging your core, while working your legs, too. “Wall sits are a great, simple core workout, and good for your quadriceps and glutes,” Brown tells me. “Basically, it’s like sitting in a chair where the wall is the chairback. Keep your legs at a 90-degree angle from your body, your core engaged and your back flat against the wall — from the shoulder blades to the tailbone — and hold that position for a minute on, 30 seconds off.”

Shoulders and More Core: Wall Walks

Shoulder problems? Try strengthening them with wall walks. “Wall walks are a fantastic workout for your shoulders, especially where shoulder stability is a concern,” Brown suggests. “Start in a plank position with your feet at the base of the wall. Slowly walk your feet up the wall, while simultaneously walking your hands toward the wall. Once your hands are at the base, start walking your hands back outwards, and your feet downwards until you’re back in the starting position. Repeat as many times as is comfortable.”

Glutes and, Yep, Even More Core: Wall Bridges

Want buns of steel? Look no further than wall bridges, which are basically the exact same as the kinds of bridges you do on flat ground, only kicked up a notch in the gluteus maximus region thanks to the incline from the wall. “Legs shoulder-width apart, arms flat on the ground and back flat,” Brown says. “Lift your core toward the sky, making your glutes and abs do the lifting — not your arms. Repeat 10 times.”

Arms and Chest: Incline and Decline Wall Push-Ups

Unsurprisingly, you can modify push-ups to work on a wall if you need a bit of an assist (incline wall push-ups) or are looking for a little more of a challenge (decline wall push-ups). Both are great, and both work slightly different muscle groups than the regular version of push-ups.

Look, it’s probably going to be at least until the end of the year with this semi- and full at-home-workout shit, so now’s the time to settle in and make your home “gym” a worthy enough substitute. After all, you’re paying rent (or a mortgage) for the four walls that prop up the roof over your head, you might as well get your money’s worth, right?