Most of us have wall-sat at some point in our lives. (Does high-school gym class ring a bell?)
You put your back against a wall, sit down, and then try to stay there.
And while you almost certainly know that isometric exercises can shake your legs, you may not know the full potential of wall sit exercises — or how to get the most out of every “hold-it-right-there” second.
Let’s break it down.
Wall Seat: Step-by-Step Instructions
First, set a timer. If you’re new to wall sits, try holding for 30 seconds to a minute. If you’re their pro, set a stopwatch instead and try to one-up yourself with each session.
- Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 18 inches in front of you, hip- and shoulder-width apart.
- Close your core and grip the floor with your feet.
- Slowly bend at the hips and knees and lower your back against the wall until you are as low as comfortably possible or your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees are directly over your ankles and your shins are completely vertical.
- With your back against the wall, core braced and spine neutral, focus on forcing your feet into the floor. Fully engage your outer thighs and hips, pretending you’re trying to spread the floor between your feet. (None of your legs will move, but you should feel them working.)
- Hold for a certain amount of time, then return your feet to the wall to stand up.
When performing any exercise, form matters. Unfortunately, when it comes to the wall sitting exercise, it’s one that most of us miss.
A properly performed and fully beneficial wall sitting exercise is not just sitting, cooling down and waiting for the clock to run out.
It’s about engaging all Muscles through your lower body, even your core and back, to create maximum levels of muscle tension and strength, explains Justin Koff, CSCS, a Boston-based strength coach.
Advantages of Wall Seat
The wall sit is a fantastic isometric exercise. Instead of requiring you to move up and down or side to side, this type of move involves assuming a position and holding it.
As the term implies, you use isometric contractions. Your muscles constantly exert force to brace the joint rather than move it, Komff says.
In the case of wall sit exercises, those muscles are the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.
The joints are the knees and hips, he said. (You may notice that these are the same muscles and joints you work in squats and squat variations, lunges, and step-ups.)
So what are the benefits of wall sitting over any other sit-down-and-stand-back-up exercise?
- Knee Friendship: Kompff says that for someone with cranky joints or existing knee problems, wall seats are often a comfortable option for strengthening the knees without straining them. This is because the knee joints are fixed and your hips are back, with shins vertical, reducing stress on the knees.
- Quadratic isolation: Wall sit exercises definitely involve the glutes and hamstrings. But, it also focuses the quadriceps on the front of the thigh to a higher degree than many compound leg exercises, he notes. Again, regular wall poses can be beneficial for those who want to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint to reduce or prevent knee pain.
Can you wall sit every day?
Do you sit every day? Then you can wall sit every day!
After all, wall sitting is all about strengthening the functional movement patterns of the lower body. This is a skill we need all the time.
That, you don’t there is Wall sits seven days per week.
The frequency with which you perform them depends on the intensity and duration of your wall-seat workouts and, more generally, your lower-body workouts.
For example, performing a single 30- or 60-second wall sit each day can be a great way to build consistency.
However, if you do multiple max attempts at wall sits on Monday and combine them with other lower-body exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts, your leg muscles may need some rest and recovery on Tuesday — and maybe even Wednesday.
Remember, the harder you work, the more you need to recover.
Modifications or alternative exercises for the wall seat
- Go higher or lower. Want to change or intensify your wall sit? Simple Sit higher to make it easier or lower to make it harder.
- Please change it! Although the wall seat exercise will feel “heavy” the lower you sit, doing it at different depths trains your muscles through a full range of motion.
- Weight yourself down. You can up the strength factor by adding weight. Holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or even a loaded backpack in front of your chest requires you to build extra strength in your core and legs, Komff explains.
- Try the kick-out. While sitting against a wall, raise one leg and then the other off the floor. This will effectively double the workload of the supporting leg.
- Be more dynamic. Static wall integrates dynamic movement into the seat. Try squeezing a medicine ball or pillow between your knees to increase recruitment through the inner thigh muscles. Hold a weight in front of you with your arms extended to tap your core strength.
- Add upper body work. Combine bicep curls, band pull-aparts and shoulder raises to add substance to your wall.