How To Do A Perfect Wall Sit & Boost It

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woman doing a wall sit

Yes, yes, wall sits are pretty straightforward. And while people may consider them one of the more common exercises, in order to reap their rewards and not stress your knees, you need to watch your form.

This article will break things down into simple steps, starting with a standard wall sit, then we’ll show you other isometric exercises you can add to a wall sit that not only work your lower body but your upper body, back, and lower body when it’s all said and done.

Wall sits, also known as wall squats, are a great way to build strength and endurance in your glutes, calves, quads (front of the thigh) and even your abdominal muscles if you understand how to include them.

A common way to try and master the wall squat is to hold it for ungodly amounts of time, but outside of a sport camp for kids or contest with some kind of monetary reward hanging in the balance, how long people can hold a wall squat is a long way away from the point. Yes, increased hold time can heighten the intensity of the exercise but there is a point of diminishing returns, so let’s get it right, then move on with our lives.

That said if your legs start quivering during a reasonable hold time, you’re probably in the sweet spot. You can always modify your sit to a lesser angle, or sit deeper and work your way toward holding for longer periods of time. If you feel pain in your knee joint, however, stop immediately and consult your doctor or a certified trainer.

How to Do a Proper Wall Sit

  1. Make sure your back is flat against the wall.
  2. Place your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and then about 2 feet out from the wall.
  3. Slide your back down the wall while keeping your core engaged and bending your legs until

they’re in a 90-degree angle—or right angle, so that if someone wanted to sit on your lap, they could. (Although now probably isn’t the best time.) Your knees should be directly above your ankles, not jutting out in front of them.

  1. HOLD your position, while contracting your ab muscles.
  2. When you’re ready to wrap it up, take a few seconds to slowly come back to a standing position while leaning against the wall.

Modification: If you are one of the many people who are uncomfortable or unable to hold a wall sit at a 90-degree angle, don’t slide down as far. Instead, go for a 45 or 30-degree angle between your quads and torso. You can also decrease the time of your wall sit exercises by several seconds, then work your way up to holding for longer periods of time.

Again, it’s more about form and less about ridiculous hold times. Keep that pelvis tucked under, that lower back against the wall, shoulders down and pressed against the wall (along with your head), and smile! It’s a neat cheat to make your body think you like this. Of course, eventually you will. We promise.

Okay, now that you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to bring in the props!

Stability Ball Wall Squat

  1. Stand with your arms by your sides and a stability ball positioned between your lower back and a wall.
  2. Squat down with your feet firmly on the ground at about shoulder-width apart, lowering your body toward the floor and rolling your back along the ball while keeping that core tight.
  3. Push through your heels while exhaling and taking a few seconds to slowly return to the start position.

Reps: 5-10 for beginners/10-15 for others

Note: Inhale on the descent and exhale on the ascent. You may also want to reach your arms forward as you squat to help with balance. This one works the muscles in your legs and glutes and it’s perfect for beginners. By placing yourself at a 45-degree angle and pinning the ball against the wall with the small of your back using your body weight, you can benefit from a larger range of motion without the risk of injury. People also find this version easier psychologically because they are focusing on the ball and not how tired and sore their legs might be. Cool trick! 

Uni-Wall Squat

Wall Squat
  1. Stand on one foot, holding dumbbells (optional) at your sides, with the ball positioned in your lower back, level against a wall.
  2. With a tight core and your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down, lowering your body toward the floor, and rolling your back along the ball.
  3. Push through your heel as you exhale and take at least three seconds to return to the start position, keeping one foot raised throughout.

 

Reps: 5-10 for beginners/10-15 for others

 

This one starts to get the arms involved and adds a balance trick while also working the inner thighs. If you imagine your lifted heel turned slightly in and up, your adductors will engage and begin to fire. Lots of gear in this version but also lots to gain with the extra accoutrement. And again, the more props, the more focus on those than whatever discomfort you might feel. The longer you go, the stronger you grow! 

Add Upper Body Exercises

Just holding extra weight will increase the intensity of your sit. Then, adding movements can make it even more complex and get all your muscle groups in on the action.

Wall Squat Lat Raise

Wall Squat Lat Raise
  1. Stand with your back against a wall, holding dumbbells by your sides.
  2. With your feet shoulder-width apart, slide your back down the wall while keeping your core engaged and coming into a squat position, bending at the hips and knees and keeping the dumbbells at your sides, with your arms straight.
  3. Raise the dumbbells up and outward to the sides, to shoulder height, bending at the elbows.
  4. Hold your squat for the entire set of reps. (5-10 for beginners/10-15 for others)
  5. Come back up by releasing your quads, pushing through your heels and sliding your arms slowly down by your sides.

Lunges, lats, and right angles everywhere. Here we start to do something with those weights in our hands and we get the back and shoulder muscles into the act. We don’t often look at our own lats but when they’re toned, the people standing in line behind you will want to know your secret. And you can tell them, “It’s the wall squat lat raise, of course.” The other upside of having a fit upper body is you can lift things more easily, it improves your posture, and you tend to have less neck pain. Win, win!

Wall Squat Press

Wall Squat Press
  1. Stand with your back against a wall holding dumbbells by your sides.
  2. Slide your back down the wall with a strong core and your feet shoulder-width apart, coming into a squat position, bending at the hips and knees and keeping the dumbbells at your sides with your arms straight.
  3. Raise the dumbbells up and outward to the sides to shoulder height, keeping your arms straight or with a slight bend at the elbows.
  4. Hold your squat for the entire set of reps. (5-10 for beginners/10-15 for others)

Note: You can switch out the dumbbells for a medicine ball if you prefer.

Arms high, booty low, that’s the only way to go. (For this exercise, anyway.) At first this one can feel like that trick where you try and pat your head while simultaneously rubbing your tummy. Everything is moving in the opposite direction at once, and it can be a little discombobulating. But after you do it for a few weeks, your fitness will be in perfect harmony, because you are literally working everything from head to toe.

Wall Squat Curl

Wall squat curl
  1. Stand leaning on a ball against a wall, positioned in your low back, holding dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Squat down with a tight core and feet shoulder-width apart, lowering your body toward the floor, rolling your back along the ball, keeping your arms straight by your sides.
  3. Raise the dumbbells up to shoulder height, bending at the elbows, finishing with your palms facing forward.
  4. Hold your squat for the entire set of reps. (5-10 for beginners/10-15 for others)
  5. Come back up by releasing your quads, pushing through your heels and releasing your arms at your sides.

Bring in the biceps and this workout becomes a physical activity of the most dynamic order because we have effectively worked pretty much all your muscle groups. After this series of exercises, people cease to wonder, “What do wall sits do?” because they feel it, and all the benefits of the wall sit family of exercises.

So, to wrap up, let’s go over a stellar stat list all about the wall sit:

  • Great for the quads
  • Makes a booty a beauty
  • Increasing your squat time is good to a point, until it defeats the point
  • Wall sits mix well with props
  • They also mix well with other exercises

Where there’s a wall, there’s a way. Walls are everywhere, so wall sit opportunities are too.

  • Beginners can do them as easily as pros.
  • You make a good chair.
  • You can’t actually sit on a wall, you sit up against it.

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