Do you remember how in elementary school P.E. class, your teacher invariably made you compete against other students to see who could hold a wall sit the longest? Your legs would shake and wobble, your eyes would scan from left to right to see who was wimping out, and you would press back into that wall for as long as you could. The wall sit has always been a common component of fitness testing, helping coaches for all abilities determine leg strength and endurance.
Often, most people never do a wall sit again after high school. The wall sit is a forgotten exercise, replaced by squats and lunges. But I would argue that the wall sit deserves a spot in your legs routine because the isometric contraction of your quads, glutes, and hamstrings is still super challenging and effective at any age.
So to help you incorporate some challenging wall sit variations into your next leg day, here are some examples to try. For each, start off by trying to hold for 20 seconds, then try working your way up to 30 or 40 seconds per move.
The basic wall sit – make sure your knees are stacked over your ankles and your knees form a 90 degree angle with your hips. Press your back into the wall behind you, drawing your abdominal wall in tight!
Heels lifted, abs braced – to shift your base of support, try lifting your heels from the floor and pressing down through the balls of your feel. Take your fingertips to your shoulders and try to pull your belly button back towards the wall.
Single leg wall sits – try isolating one leg at a time by lifting a leg straight up in front of you right above the floor. Press down hard into the floor with your working leg,keeping all of those muscles tight throughout your hold to keep your balance on the single side.
Turn your toes out and take your feet wider – hit a slightly different angle of your leg muscles by turning your toes out and assuming a wider stance, engaging your inner thighs more than before.
Hold a heavy ball or weight – to the stress on your leg muscles by holding onto a heavy ball, plate, or dumbbell. Ensure that holding the weight does not move your shoulders or back away from the wall, maintain good posture.
Talk back: When’s the last time you’ve done a wall sit? Which variation do you find the most challenging?