The Benefits of Wall Sits

The Benefits of Wall Sits

The wall sit is one of those exercises we love to hate. It is a simple movement that becomes exceedingly difficult the longer we do it. A few minutes against the wall will get your quads screaming like nothing else. Here are eight compelling reasons that you need to make the wall sit a key part of your leg workout. But, first, let’s run through how to do the perfect wall sit. 

How to Do the Wall Sit:

  1. Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about two feet in front of it. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing directly forward.
  2. With your back completely against the wall, drop your hips until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor as if you were sitting in a chair.
  3. Place your arms against the wall with your palms spread out against it.
  4. Look directly ahead as you hold this position for the required length of time. 

Mental Strength

The wall sit is an awesome test of mental strength. Unlike weight training exercises where you get to the point where you simply cannot do another rep, the wall sit is all about the power of your mind. How long can you endure the pain in your quads? Can you hang on for another 30 seconds? What if someone offered you a hundred dollars to stick it out for another minute? 

Remember the mind usually gives out before the body does. And the wall sit is the ultimate test of that theory. Work your way to a goal time. When I first began doing the wall sit, I would play American Pie by Don McLean with the goal of staying in position for the entire 8 minutes and 42 seconds!

Easy Access

The wall sit is an exercise that everyone can do. All you have to do is sit down, which we all do multiple times daily. The only equipment it requires is a wall, which we are all constantly surrounded by. Those two factors make the wall sit one of the most accessible exercises that exist. It’s also fast to get into and out, which makes it perfect to do when the TV ads are on. 

Can Watch Netflix!

There are not that many exercises that allow you to watch TV while you’re doing it. The wall sit, however, is one of them. Once you are in position, all you have to do is stay there. Just set yourself up in front of the TV and you’re all set to go – you can even hold the remote control in your hand. 

The wall sit is an exercise where watching TV can actually benefit your performance. We have already established that the wall sit is predominantly a mental strength exercise, so anything that can distract your mind from the pain in your quads is going to help you stay in position for longer.

Isometric Strength

The wall sit is not a dynamic strength exercise as you are not moving through your quadriceps range of motion. Instead, it is an isometric exercise that strengthens your four quadriceps muscles in the mid position of quad extension. This will enhance your lower body strength and power.

Core Strength

In addition to strengthening your legs, the wall sit will also allow you to build core strength. The sitting position against the wall engages all of the core stabilizer muscles. When doing the exercise, you should keep your core tight which will also activate the rectus abdominis muscle. Press your core back against the wall as you pull it in for maximum benefit. 

Balance

The wall sit helps to improve a person’s balance. The act of supporting yourself in mid-air as if you were sitting on a chair brings into play a host of balance and stabilizer muscles that allow you to be more balanced in everyday movement. It will also help you to recover more easily to prevent falls.

Scalable

The wall sit is an exercise that can be scaled to make it harder. Most people can do the exercise for at least a few seconds. That means that it has a very low ability entry threshold. To make it harder, simply stay in position for longer. When you can stay in position for a decent length of time (such as the 8 minutes and 42 seconds it takes to get through American Pie), you can make the exercise harder by doing the one-legged wall sit. 

To do the new legged wall sit, get into the normal wall sit position then lift one leg directly in the air so that the heel is about a foot from the floor. Hold this one-legged position for as long as you can.

If you really want to ramp up the intensity of the wall sit, you can have another person stand on your thighs while you are in the wall sit position. Make sure that you can handle the person’s body weight before you try this one as it could lead to injury if you miscalculate it. I would recommend starting with a child and progressing as you get stronger!

Multi-Tasking

The wall sit is the ultimate multi-tasking exercise. I have already mentioned how you can watch TV while doing the exercise. It also allows you to do dumbbell exercises while you are in the wall sit position. Such exercises as dumbbell curls, overhead presses, and side lateral raises can all be done while you are in the wall sit position. 

Wrap Up

The wall sit is a fantastic bodyweight exercise that will challenge you both physically and mentally. If you are incorporating it into your leg workout, use it as an awesome finishing move, literally going to failure – that is, until you collapse to the floor. As a stand-alone exercise, set a time goal (start with 60 seconds) and do 3 or 4 sets, with a 30-second rest between each set. 

This article was last updated on October 12, 2021 .

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Categorized as Exercise

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.