The simple wall sit doesn't require any equipment and will leave your lower-body muscles quivering.
When training your quads and glutes, exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts often get the spotlight. But no lower-body exercise burns quite like the wall sit. While it may look like a fairly simple exercise, it packs a lot of punch and may leave your legs quivering — no joke.
So what is it about the wall sit that makes it so deceptively hard? It's an isometric exercise, meaning there's no change in the length of the muscles involved and the affected joints don't move. Isometric exercises, such as the wall sit, involve holding a specific position, allowing your muscles to contract under tension for a certain amount of time. Here, learn more about the humble wall sit, including why trainers recommend it for building lower-body strength and ways to progress or modify the movement to meet your needs.
HOW TO PERFORM :-
At its most basic, a wall sit involves pushing your torso into a wall and using your leg strength to hold a seated position. Your legs should be bent at a right angle to get all the lower-body strengthening benefits of the wall sit.
A. Stand with back pressed up against a wall, feet hip-width apart, and arms at sides.
B. Walk feet out about two steps in front of body.
C. With back against the wall, arms at sides, and chest upright, bend knees to lower body down until legs are parallel to the ground, forming 90-degree angles. Knees should be stacked directly over ankles and in line with hips. Engage core to help with stability and maintain an upright posture.
D. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds.
The Key Wall Sit Benefits
The wall sit might look easy, but trust — this fundamental strength move packs a punch.
Strengthens Lower-Body Muscles
"If done properly, the wall sit strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip adductors/abductors (inner thighs), calves, and abs," says Taylor. "It's important to strengthen these muscles to improve stability, strength, and muscle imbalances/injuries."
Much like a squat, the wall sit involves lowering your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, activating your quads and glutes. As you're holding this position and pressing your feet down into the ground, you're also engaging your inner thigh muscles and your core to help you stabilize. Activating your core also helps your upper body maintain an upright position.
To get the most out of this exercise, you want to actively think about engaging your glutes by pushing through your heels
"When you visualize specific muscles engaging, you will feel those muscles firing more than other muscle groups," she says. "Every muscle in your lower body assists you in holding a squat position. If you want to focus on a specific muscle group, visualize it."
Prevents Muscle Imbalances
In order to maintain the "squat" position of the wall sit, where your thighs are parallel to the ground, you need to call on both your quads and glutes. Wall sits are excellent at preventing muscle imbalances (aka when one side of your body is stronger than the other) and injuries by equally engaging both sides of your legs — meaning your quads at the front of your thighs and your glutes on your backside — at the same time.
And imbalanced muscles carry a bigger risk than just noticing that one of your biceps is slightly larger than the other. If left unaddressed, muscle imbalances can lead to overcompensation (in which the dominant muscle takes over the movement), dysfunctional movement patterns, and overuse — all of which carry a risk of injury.
Builds Muscular Endurance
"Isometric holds, such as a wall sit, are an excellent way to build strength and stability when added to a proper training program," says Taylor. In turn, wall sits improve your muscular endurance (the ability for the body to work for an extended period of time); they force your lower-body muscles to contract for an extended period of time, hence the isometric hold. And the stronger your body is, the longer your muscles can withstand resistance. Doing wall sits frequently engages your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thigh muscles and builds up their stamina over time, allowing you to take on more resistance (read: level up from 15-pound dumbbells to a weightlifting barbell).
Building muscular endurance in your lower body isn't just important for athletic performance in lower-body dominant sports (such as running and cycling). It's also crucial for daily activities, such as walking, because it conditions your body to do activities over a longer period of time without tiring out your muscles too quickly.
Modification: Quarter Squat Wall Sit
No need to immediately drop into the deepest wall sit of your life in order to enjoy the benefits of a wall sit. A more modest 45-degree angle in your legs (compared to a 90-degree angle) will offer you a way to ease into this lower-body move. "If a client has joint pain, I recommend the quarter squat wall sit before progressing to a parallel wall sit or loaded wall sit,". That way, you can help your muscles adapt to the movement pattern on your own time frame.
If you need extra support holding the squat position, you can place a stability ball behind your lower back, "It's more comfortable and will cut the pressure off your quads," she explains. "Try not to lean onto the ball too much. Think of the ball as helping absorb some of the force off of your quads, moving it to your back."
Progression: Weighted Wall Sit
Once you've nailed the bodyweight wall sit and have built up the strength in your quads, glutes, and core, you can progress with a weighted wall sit to continue challenging these muscle groups. For example, you can hold a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells at your side or place a weight plate on top of your thighs. The added resistance challenges your body even further and ramps up that muscular endurance.
Another progression you can try is a single-leg wall sit during which you extend one leg out in front of your body and maintain the same 90-degree bend in your stabilizing knee. "This move will challenge your ankle stability, your legs, as well as your core,"
Common Wall Sit Mistakes
While a wall sit looks pretty basic, there are ways to mess up this lower-body exercise. For example, your feet may be in the wrong position — either too far away from or too close to the wall. "It's important to make sure your knees and ankles are aligned to keep the proper form that will be most effective," Your ankles should be under or slightly in front of the knees, and remember to press down into the floor with your entire foot (rather than just the toes or just the heels). This activation helps engage your inner thighs and abs. And don't forget about your upper body as well. As tempting as it might be to push your hands into your legs, that's a no-go. "In a wall sit, pushing your hands into the legs will take the tension away from the primary muscles being worked, especially the core and glutes," Instead, keep your arms by your sides, overhead, or outstretched in front of you, depending on how challenging you want the exercise to feel, she recommends (FYI, arms overhead will be the most difficult position to maintain with good form).
Finally, keep your back against the wall throughout the entire exercise and avoid any arch in your low back, which compromises your form. "[Maintain] an upright position with your chest proud and tall,"
. And if you're not feeling the burn in your quads, drop an inch or two lower to get the most out of the movement.