wall-sits
October 5, 2021

Wall Sits Are Incredible for Your Quads—Here’s How to Do Them

Wall sits is an isometric exercise that tests your lower-body endurance, is one of the most underutilized strength exercises for quads. For any exercise to be effective, proper form is essential. Keep this in mind as you read on to learn everything about wall sitting, including how to increase the intensity.

MEET THE EXPERT

  • Tara Lyn Emerson, a certified fitness coach and expert in weight training, and spinning is Tara Lyn Emerson.
  • Nandini Collins holds an Ed.D. in NASM, ACE and ACSM. She is also a CPT Associate Coach Program Manager for Noom.

How to Perform the Wall Sit

NANDINI COLLINS / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO

To perfect your wall sitting, you must first position your body correctly. Tara Lyn Emerson, a fitness coach and expert, explains that the key to getting into an isometric position is to place your feet at about hip width apart. Maintain a neutral spine and sit down until your knees bend 90 degrees. The knee should not go behind the heel of your foot or in front the toes.

Nandini Collins, Noom Associate Coach Program Manager, shares her step-by-step guide on how to master your wall sit.

  1. Your back should be flat against the wall.
  2. Keep your feet hip-width apart and walk approximately two feet from the wall.
  3. To protect your knees, tighten your abdominal muscles and shift your weight to your heels. Inhale as your slide down the wall until you feel your thighs parallel to the ground. You can place your arms at your side, with palms against the wall or cross them in front.
  4. As you hold this static/isometric position, ensure there are at least two 90-degree angles that look like a chair. One at your knees and one at your hips. Keep your breathing normal and engage your abdominals. Hold the position for a few seconds until you feel a burning sensation. For 30-60 seconds is a good starting point.
  5. Slide up the wall to get back to standing.

Collins explains that it is important to distinguish a burning sensation from pain. This feels like a sharp knife. If pain develops, stop the exercise immediately.

What Muscles Are Worked In a Wall Sit?

TARA LYNEMERSON / DESIGN BIANA CRISPINO

Wall sitting targets many muscles in the leg making it an excellent lower-body exercise. Emerson says that while the quads are the most targeted, it also targets the core, glutes and calves. The wall sit, in addition to working the quads (front of the thighs), is also designed to strengthen the hamstrings as well as the adductor muscles (those located under the inner thigh).

Collins says that the exercise increases muscular strength, endurance, stability, and stability for lower bodies. Collins adds that if done properly and mindfully, it can also include more muscle groups, such as the core. This improves core strength and stability and allows you to move efficiently on the gym floor as well as in daily life.

The wall can be approached from a vantage point that can be easily modified for people who are new to the exercise, or for anyone looking for a challenge.

Modifications In a Wall Sit

  • To reduce the intensity, hold a 45 degree angle and lower the pressure on your knees.
  • Slide up and down on the wall to transform the exercise from an isometric holding into a dynamic movement that reduces intensity.
  • You should do the exercise in shorter bursts than for a longer period.

Variations In a Wall Sit

  • Placing a stability ball behind your back, squat down and up with your back against it.
  • Abduction pulses can be used to target the glute muscles using a band.
  • To increase your strength, add a weighted plate to the top of your thighs.
  • Change the foot position from narrow to wide, to work your inner thighs.
  • To improve your leg strength, try a single leg wall sitting.
  • To work the adductor muscles, squeeze a ball between your knees.
  • Do upper-body exercises, compound movements such as an overhead press, front lift, lateral raise or bicep curls, while seated against a wall.
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Safety Considerations

Wall sits are suitable for most people due to their low impact and adaptability. Emerson says that wall sitting is a great option for people who are experiencing lower back pain when doing squats. There are safety concerns. Emerson says, “If you’re going to do this exercise beyond your limits (i.e. “until death”), you might consider having a ball under you so that you can slide down the wall to rest instead of trying to climb up from extreme fatigue.” Wall sitting should not be done in all cases, especially for people with lower-body injuries and those recovering from surgery. This is especially true for people who have had surgery on their knees, hips or ankles. Wall sits can be used as a rehabilitation exercise for injuries or to increase strength and endurance.

The Takeaway

Wall sitting is a great exercise for strength, endurance, and stability. It stimulates many lower-body muscle groups at once. For a proper wall sit, make sure your feet are at least a foot apart. Also, shift your weight to your heels. Make sure that the back of the wall is touching the wall. Engage the abdominal muscles. Wall sits can be a great exercise to build strength, endurance, strengthen the core and improve your core. However, they are not suitable for people who are recovering from lower-body injuries. They can be a useful rehabilitative exercise and a great addition for your workout. There are many variations that will challenge your endurance and strength.