The wall sit may be considered one of the most overlooked exercises among regular gym goers.
Due to its simplistic nature some may consider the exercise to be less effective than other lower body movements.
Sure it may not look as appealing on Instagram, but don’t let the nature of the exercise fool you. It can be a great tool for building lower body endurance and increasing mobility.
People may get the wrong impression that expensive equipment and advanced trainers are required for effective workout regimens.
While deadlifting 600 pounds or squatting eight plates may look impressive, it may not be practical for many people due to injuries or differing body types.
The wall sit is a great lower body exercise that can be performed at home, the gym, or even at the office with just a few minutes of downtime.
Best of all, the movement has benefits other exercises may be lacking.
What are Wall Sits
If you are one of the people unfamiliar with the wall sit, chances are you’re not alone. The wall sit only requires a wall for performing the movement. That’s the only tool you’ll need.
The movement is essentially a stationary squat type movement that is performed while leaning against a wall.
The movement seeks to improve endurance, flexibility, mobility, and overall core strength.
No fancy equipment is needed to perform this exercise, you simply need a steady wall and a bit of determination. You can do wall sits at any time and practically at any location.
Wall Sits vs. Squats
Wall sits have some similarities to a traditional squat, but there are some differences as well.
A squat is performed without the assistance of a wall and generally involves constant repetition.
It is a dynamic movement where the body is constantly in motion. It focuses mainly on muscle hypertrophy (building muscle).
Wall sits on the other hand involve the use of a wall to support the body.
It is considered a static movement as you stay in a stationary position for a period of time.
Wall sits are more geared towards overall body functionality as opposed to traditional muscle building.
Both movements help to strengthen the lower body while improving mobility and flexibility in the process.
It helps to incorporate both exercises into your lower body workout routines.
How to Do Wall Sits
To begin the movement, lean against a wall with your heels planted a couple of feet away from the bottom of the wall.
With your back against the wall, cross your arms and begin moving downwards into the squat position.
You should attempt to get your hamstrings parallel to the ground if possible. If you aren’t quite as mobile, try to squat to a level that is comfortable to avoid potential injury.
Once in the seated position, aim for staying in the wall sit position for a certain period of time.
Most people will begin with a 30 second sit and increase time as they get more comfortable with the movement.
While doing the movement it helps to keep your core engaged. The exercise not only requires a great deal of physical strength, but also mental focus as well.
Timed exercises prove to be a mental challenge initially for people unfamiliar with them.
Wall Sits Benefits
The wall sit has many benefits as compared to other lower body exercises you may have been unaware of.
Works Your Entire Body
The wall sit is an isometric/static exercise, but don’t let that fool you. Since several muscles are engaged in the exercise simultaneously, it also acts as a compound movement.
The glutes, quads, and hamstrings all work together to perform the movement. The exercise also improves core strength as well.
Since the back must be straight during the movement, it also strengthens the entire posterior chain.
The wall sit can also work the hip adductors and abductors. These muscles are often overlooked and infrequently trained, but are crucial for lower body performance and mobility.
The focus of this movement is to improve muscular endurance and flexibility, so this is not a muscular hypertrophy exercise.
However, over time you will gradually be able to hold the exercise for longer periods of time.
Burns More Calories than you Realize
Although the wall sit does not utilize muscle contractions through repetition, you still will be burning calories. Muscles will stay in a static position for a pre-defined period of time.
As you sit for a few seconds, your heart rate will begin to increase and the burn will be felt throughout the whole lower body.
This will cause a spike in calories burned as your cardiovascular system begins to work.
Improves Muscular Endurance
As you perform the movement, slow twitch fibers are activated improving your endurance.
Athletes such as distance runners, football players, or basketball players will benefit from incorporating these types of movements into their workout routines.
Endurance is equally as important as strength for becoming a well-rounded athlete.
Less Chance of Injury
Subjecting the body to heavy weight loaded movements can put excess pressure on the spine and lower back when performed repetitively over the course of years.
Wall sits on the other hand offer some of the same benefits as other lower body movements with little to no injury risk.
People of all ages from children to senior citizens can benefit from wall sits.
Improves Overall Functionality
The wall sit not only will improve endurance, but will also improve functionality. Starting with a wall sit will help perfect overall squat form.
If you are struggling with reaching parallel in a traditional squat, you may benefit from regular wall sits.
Your mobility and range of motion will also get better as a byproduct of the movement as well.
Not only are wall sits physically taxing on the body, they can also be mentally tough as well.
People that are unaccustomed to challenging wall sits may struggle initially as they are not used to staying in a fixed position for a prolonged period of time.
As you increase your physical endurance by performing longer wall sits, your mental toughness will improve as well.
It takes a person that is both mentally and physically strong in order to do the exercise for several minutes.
Don’t underestimate the mental toughness needed to do these types of exercises.
No Equipment is Needed
The wall sit is one of the few exercises that can be performed almost anywhere and at anytime.
Whether you are in the bedroom, the office, or kitchen there is always space to do a wall sit.
What Muscles are Worked Doing a Wall Sit Workout?
Many people may see the wall sit as a stationary, isometric static exercise. The movement is actually a compound exercise as several body parts are worked simultaneously.
Some of the muscles worked with wall sits include:
- Hip Abductors
- Hip Adductors
Though the wall sit may appear to be a basic exercise, it can effectively work several muscles at the same time.
Variations are Endless
The wall sit is not a one size fits all exercise. The amount of variations are endless so you will be able to constantly challenge yourself as you progress.
- Single Leg Wall Sit: The setup for this movement is similar to a traditional wall sit, except you extend one leg out in front of you. This becomes a unilateral movement focusing on improving strength/endurance in one side of the body. If you have any type of muscle imbalances, performing a unilateral movement will help balance it out.
- Wall Sit w/ Bicep Curl: If you are short on time, performing two exercises concurrently is a great way to make your workouts more effective time wise. Simply get into a wall sit position and begin performing bicep curls at the same time. This is a great way to mix in upper and lower body strength simultaneously.
- Wall Sit w/ Shoulder Press: Another way to perform two exercises at the same time is to do the wall sit while performing shoulder presses. Get into a wall sit position and perform shoulder presses at the same time. Note the weights should not be too heavy as this can place excessive pressure on the lower back.
- Weighted Wall Sit: As you get better at wall sits, you may strive for an additional challenge. Once you can wall sit with ease for two minutes or more, try holding a pair of moderate weight dumbbells while you sit. You can also hold a weight plate as well. The weighted movement will make it more challenging while increasing lower body strength.
- Stability Ball Wall Sit: The stability ball wall sit is commonly used as a form of rehab treatment for people with lower back issues. To perform this movement, place a stability ball against a wall gently lean against it, placing the top of the ball into the small of your back. The feet should still be 6-12 inches in front of your body hip width apart. Perform the exercise in the same manner as a normal wall sit and avoid driving the knees down and forward.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I make wall sits easier?
If you are a beginner, wall sits can be made easier by avoiding a full squat position.
Keeping the hamstrings above parallel level to the ground will also make the exercise easier. You can also put your hands on your thighs to avoid placing full body weight on your legs.
As you get more comfortable, you can cross your arms or keep your arms out parallel to the ground.
Contracting the abdominal muscles will also stabilize the body allowing you to hold the position for longer periods of time.
How do I make wall sits harder?
If the traditional wall sit is too easy you can try mixing it up. Try performing single leg wall sits or weighted wall sits to challenge yourself.
The wall sit can also be performed in conjunction with other exercises such as bicep curls or even shoulder presses.
How long should you do wall sits?
Wall sits should progressively increase in time as you get more proficient at the movement. Start with a couple of sets 30 seconds each in duration.
As you progress you can increase the time length of the sets and also add additional sets over time.
Do wall sits build muscle?
Wall sits generally are considered an isometric endurance exercise. While they do not aim to build muscle, over time muscular endurance will improve.
As a byproduct of improved endurance, your Central Nervous System (CNS) will be more adapted to build muscle.
Do wall squats burn calories?
Wall squats are different than traditional exercises as they are not focused on repetitions.
However, as you perform the movement your heart rate is increased causing the body to burn calories.
The main focus of the movement is building muscular endurance rather than cardiovascular training or caloric burn.
Do wall sits make your butt bigger?
Wall sits alone will not make your butt bigger as they are an endurance focused movement.
However, when done in conjunction with other hypertrophy movements they may help assist in building the glute muscles.
The wall sit is one of the most forgotten exercises that is often underutilized.
Do not overlook the benefits associated with the movement as it can help improve muscular endurance, flexibility, and mobility.
As you get more proficient with the exercise, you can increase the difficulty by making a few alterations to the movement.
Just increase the time you perform the wall sit or simply make it a weighted exercise.
Remember that wall sits alone are not a full workout, they are simply a piece of a much larger puzzle.