The wall sit is an exercise which works all the main leg muscles, especially the large muscle group on the front of the thighs (quadriceps). In the wall sit, you have your back supported against a wall and your knees bent to 90 degrees. Then you just hold this position – the time of the hold can vary from a few seconds to several minutes. There are variations on the wall sit which work the calves and the core muscles
Advantages of the wall sit
- You can do it anywhere there is a wall
- It’s easily progressed: you can increase the time held/number of repetitions, place a weight on the legs or add variations
- You can add in arm movements to work the core
- Because the back is supported, most people have no trouble getting the thighs parallel to the floor, whereas with an unsupported squat many people can’t squat so low
- It tones all the leg muscles, especially the front of thigh
- The risk of injury is low, as the back is supported and there is no movement
Disadvantages of the wall sit
- It’s a static exercise – it only trains the legs in one position (Note: static holds are not advisable for those who have high blood pressure, due to the increase in blood pressure caused.)
- It’s a strength exercise only and contributes little to cardiovascular fitness or weight control.
- Although the exercise can be progressed by increasing time held, long holds are time-consuming and boring!
In summary, it’s a good one to do if you have a few minutes to spare, your legs need a bit of toning up, or to add into your workout for variety.
How to get into the wall sit position
- Stand with your back to the wall, about 18-24 inches away from it, legs hip distance apart
- Using your hands to help support you, bend your knees as you lean your back against the wall
- When the back is fully in contact with the wall, start to slide down, until the thighs are parallel with the floor
- Check that your knees are lined up above your ankles – adjust your foot position if not
- The position shouldn’t be uncomfortable. If there is any discomfort in the back or knees, then check your position carefully. If you still feel discomfort, don’t do this exercise without seeking appropriate medical advice.
Coming out of the wall sit
- Slide back up the wall and use your hands to push away from the wall
30 Day Challenge
There are 3 types of wall sit in this program:
Basic wall sit – just hold the wall sit for the given time
Heels raised wall sit – get into the wall sit position, lift both heels off the floor and then hold for the given time
Wall sit with heel lift and lower – hold the basic wall sit while you lift and lower the heels for the given number of reps
Rest for 5 seconds between each hold/set of reps.
- Make sure you follow the instructions above to get the correct position
- For general exercise safety guidelines, see here
- Rest for longer between holds/sets if you need to
- If holding the wall sit position makes you feel dizzy or light headed stop immediately and take medical advice before attempting again
- The leg muscles will build up lactic acid and feel uncomfortable, this is normal. However, there should not be any pain in the knees or any other joints. If you feel pain, reassess your position. If you continue to feel pain, take advice from an appropriate physical therapist (physiotherapist/sports injury specialist/osteopath/sports massage therapist).
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