There's a fresh way to do body-weight routines, and it’s all about going vertical. “Using a wall can intensify many moves that are typically done on the floor,” says Lisa Corsello, the creator and owner of Burn Pilates in San Francisco. Not to mention that you can find a wall (or a pillar or a tree) anywhere. (You can also use a staircase, bench, or step to get a killer workout anywhere.)
Corsello designed this eight-move wall workout to target your lower body and core—to the point where you’ll likely feel your muscles quiver as you complete each set. That’s where the body changing happens. Plus, you’ll boost your balance, stability, and alignment: “Working against a vertical surface helps improve your alignment because it gives you a physical guide for properly placing your body in space,” says Corsello, who uses these moves with her clients. (This barre workout also improves balance.)
For instance, take the wall circle exercise: Maintaining contact on the wall with your toe as you trace requires your leg to be fully extended—that’s how to ensure you maximize your glute, quad, and calf muscle contraction—but without the wall there to keep you accountable, you wouldn’t realize if your leg was bent a little bit. You’ll also notice as you perform the wall squat snow angels that it’s a lot harder than you thought to keep your elbows and wrists against the wall to get that chest stretch. And because you’ll be pushing into the wall with each rep, you’ll get a bigger muscle contraction than you would doing these same drills the wall-free way.
You will need: A wall or other sturdy vertical surface
How it works: Do a dynamic warm-up consisting of mountain climbers, butt kicks, and jumping jacks. Then do 20 reps each of bridges; downward dog to plank; and forward, reverse, and side lunges. Hold a wall squat for 60 seconds. Then do the indicated reps of each move in the order below. For a cardio burst, do 1 to 2 minutes of shadowboxing or jumping jacks between moves.
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
1. Push-Up Tap
Start on floor in plank on palms facing wall, about an arm’s length away. Do a push-up.
At top of push-up, tap right hand to wall (shown). Do a push-up. Tap left hand to wall. Continue for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Scale down: Hold plank and do wall taps.
2. Wall Squat Snow Angel
Stand with back against wall, feet together, 2 feet away from wall. Lower into a wall squat and, pressing elbows and backs of hands to wall, raise arms overhead as far as you can while keeping them against wall.
Lower arms below shoulder height as far as you can, still touching wall (shown). That’s 1 rep. Do 20 reps.
Scale down: Decrease size of angel and don’t bend knees as much.
Scale up: Come up onto balls of feet in wall squat and do snow angels twice as slowly.
3. Leg Lift Pike
Stand with back facing wall a leg’s length away. Hinge at hips, placing hands on floor. Carefully walk both feet up wall until legs are parallel to floor, hands directly under shoulders. If too challenging to balance, invert; see scale down.
Lift left leg.
Tap left foot to wall, then lift it. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Scale down: Do downward dog with hands against the wall for stability and lift 1 leg at a time in the air.
4. Bridge Hip-Up
Lie faceup on floor with right foot on wall, right knee bent 90 degrees (so shin is parallel to floor), left leg extended straight up toward ceiling, arms by sides. Raise hips off floor so body forms a line from shoulders to right knee.
Lower straight left leg to tap wall, then raise it back up.
Lower hips to floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 30 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Scale down: Do with foot of grounded leg on the floor.
Scale up: Do on ball of grounded foot.
5. Wall Circle
Lie on floor on right side with body perpendicular to wall, right knee bent so right shin is against wall. Extend straight left leg so that left toes touch wall as far up as possible.
Glide left toes clockwise down wall as close to floor as possible. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 30 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Slow down and experiment with rotating leg internally and externally to target smaller muscles.
6. Wall Squat Clam
Stand with back against wall, feet together, arms extended in front of you at shoulder height, then lower into a squat. Rise onto balls of feet to start.
Keeping feet together, open knees out to side. Return to start. Continue for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Scale down: Keep heels on floor.
7. Single-Leg Wall Lunge
Stand with your back to wall, 2 to 3 feet away, and raise arms overhead. Bring left leg behind you to place ball of left foot on wall, about a foot and a half from floor (leg should be bent).
Bend right knee 45 degrees, reaching fingertips toward floor. Return to start. Continue for 30 seconds. Switch legs; repeat.
Scale down: Put ball of rear foot and just your heel against wall.
Scale up: Add light weights.
8. Single-Leg Wall Side Squat
Stand with your left side facing wall, a leg’s length away. Place left foot on wall at hip height or slightly lower (choose a level where you can maintain a tall posture), hands in front of chest.
Maintain left foot placement on wall and bend right knee about 90 degrees, pressing hips back. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Scale up: Rise onto ball of foot before returning to start.