We have all tried some kooky, crazy, strange things in the name of fitness, right? The Shake Weight? The Thigh Master? Prancercise anyone? (You must click on the hyperlink or Google this if you have no idea what we’re talking about.)
The point is, when you’re looking for results that don’t ever seem to be coming fast enough, most of us have been guilty of resorting to almost anything to lose the weight or whip ourselves into shape. One in particular that many may have a love-hate relationship with is the wall sit exercise. But what are they and what do wall sits work out exactly? We break down this lower body exercise and explain the muscle groups it works out as well as the wall sit benefits.
The Wall Sit
Enter the wall sit. Sounds dubious, right? But, heck, if we can sit during any exercise (and actually get results) we’ll give it a whirl. But, truth be told, the wall sit has been around longer than most of us-or any fancy schmancy exercise machines because, well, all you need is a wall and yourself.
The wall sit exercise is a tried and true example of an effective, low-impact exercise that is beneficial to your overall body core strength, but you primarily perform a wall sit to strengthen your quadriceps.
Essentially, you use your body to create the two right angles: One right angle is formed at the hips (waist), and one right angle at the knees. The wall comes into play because it makes these two right angles possible (gravity and all).
If you’re looking to add this to your workout routine, it’s important that you understand the proper form. To perform a wall sit workout, you should start by standing about two feet away from a wall-and your back should be against the wall-then rest your back against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and just slightly out from the wall. Next, slide your back down the wall until your hips and your knees are bent at 90-degree angles in a sitting position. This is almost like holding a squat position but against the wall.
Be sure to keep your shoulders, upper back, and back of your head against the wall at all times. Both of your feet should be flat, so that it’s like you’re actually sitting in a chair-without the comfy chair, of course (that would be called cheating, people).
You should be careful if you’ve ever had knee injuries in the past or are susceptible to such injuries. Your knees are going to take most of your weight during a wall sit.
Are They Effective?
So are wall sits effective? The short answer is: Yes. You’ll work your hamstrings, and the abductor muscles in your inner thighs will also feel a burn-if you’re doing the exercise correctly. Basically, you’re going to feel the burn wherever you’re putting the pressure on your leg muscles and body since there is no movement involved in this “sitting” exercise.
That said, you’re not going to burn a boatload of calories with wall sits. That is, unless you hold that seated-without-a-chair position for super-long stretches at a time. You’re basically using your own body’s weight to strengthen the muscles, so the more you weigh, the more calories your body will burn. Nonetheless, holding a proper seated position at a 90 degree angle properly can help in building leg strength and muscle.
Fun factoid: The longest static wall sit is 11 hours, 51 minutes, and 14 seconds by Dr. Thienna Ho at the World Team USA Gymnasium in San Francisco, California on December 20, 2008.
Word of advice: Don’t go for the record. Not today. Start with 30-second holds against the wall and work your way up. If you feel like you’re up for the wall sit challenge, you can also start with 60 seconds. You’ll be able to hold your position longer with more and more practice.
Chances are we won’t be calling the Guinness Book of World Records anytime soon to unseat Dr. Ho, but we’re proud of you anyway!
What do you think of wall sits? Tell us in the comments below!
Challenge Yourself with Chuze Fitness
If you’re ready to add this to your current workout routine or even start anew, we’ve got you covered at Chuze Fitness. Get started on your fitness journey today by searching for “gyms near me” to find the nearest location!
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Quinn, Elizabeth. “How to Do the Wall Sit.” Verywell Fit. 29 July, 2020. https://www.verywellfit.com/the-wall-sit-quad-exercise-3120741
- “8 Amazing Benefits Of The Wall Sit: How To Do It Correctly.” The Workout Digest. https://theworkoutdigest.com/wall-sit-benefits/
- Zickl, Daniel. “7 Wall Sit Variations That Work Every Muscle In Your Body.” Men’s Health. 24 July, 2020. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19533937/wall-sit-variations/
- Bedosky, Lauren. “How to Do a Wall Sit for Toned Legs.” Live Strong. 25 October, 2021. https://www.livestrong.com/article/13745059-how-long-hold-wall-sit/