Coach's Corner: SGX Level 2 Coach Rich Borgatti on how to prep for and navigate the Z Wall Traverse.
What The Z Wall Traverse Is:
The Z Wall is a horizontal bouldering obstacle made up of three walls angled in a “Z” formation. Two-by-four blocks of wood are attached. You use these blocks to step and grab on while moving horizontally across and around corners to hit a bell. Each wall is approximate eight-feet wide.
You cannot touch the ground.
What the Z Wall Traverse Demands:
Grip strength, mobility, coordination.
Mistake I Most Often See:
Not gripping with the hands correctly.
Not being close enough to the wall.
Poor foot and hand placement.
Not relaxing enough.
Finger, hand and forearm strength is a big part of this obstacle. I suggest working on movements that would strengthen the grip. Towel pull-ups, farmer carries with heavy dumbbells or kettlebells (for an added training option use a towel through the kettlebell handles), pinch-grip plate carries, and deadlifts are all good movements to include in your training.
You will also need shoulder strength to hold your body up. Add in dead hangs for time (work up to a 1 min hang). Something else I see on the course is athletes have their hips too far away from the wall. Really try to keep the hips close to the wall. Turn out your toes so they are pointing in opposite directions. This will require external rotation of the hips. I suggest working on the frog stretch in your warm ups to open the hips up.
Two things have really helped me be successful on this obstacle are the way I place my hands, and which wall and direction the wall is facing.
- Hand placement. I like to cup my hands and place them on the outside edges of the blocks rather than grab the blocks on the front with my fingers. This outside placement allows me to stay close to the wall and “swing” a bit. I place my hands and then shuffle step my feet over, then move my hands again.
- Direction of the wall. I know I am right handed so I lead with my right side. I search for the least used and least muddy wall facing in the direction I want to go. I also check out the grade of the slope and make sure the wall isn’t leaning too much to my side.
Also from Coach Borgatti: The Spear Throw
Prepare to dominate the course. Download the Spartan Obstacle Guide