You don't need an expensive gym membership or bulky home-gym equipment for a thorough lower body workout. In fact, all you need is a wall and a resistance band. The wall sit is an underrated, underutilized, and under-appreciated exercise that you can practice anywhere there's a sturdy wall!
The wall sit works your glutes, your lower back, your hamstrings, and many more lower body muscles. It's a great exercise that takes little practice to get right, and with a selection of hip bands to hand, you can quickly raise the intensity of the workout.
We love to include this exercise in our home workout circuits, so here's our guide to holding the perfect wall sit!
What is the wall sit?
The wall sit is a fantastic exercise for working the lower body. It's really simple too, but it does require a little bit of balance and spatial awareness!
We'll explain the wall sit in a little bit more detail, but, for simplicity, the wall sit essentially just requires you to lean your back against a wall, with your legs bent at the knees. While holding this wall-sitting position, you'll be working your glutes, your lower back muscles, your hamstrings, and many more muscles too.
We recommend using a resistance band to add extra tension and difficulty to the exercise. There are several variations of the basic wall squats, which will allow you to create an entire workout routine that solely relies on having only a wall and a resistance band!
The wall sit is all about positioning and learning how to hold your body against the wall. This helps you burn calories, build muscle, and, best of all, define and tone those lower body muscles. If you're looking to shape your legs or sculpt your posterior, this is one exercise you should definitely be including in your lower body workouts.
How to do the wall sit exercise
Here's how to do the wall sit exercise, using a resistance band for extra tension and resistance. The wall sit can be performed without the resistance band, too, of course - if you don't have one handy.
You can practice the wall sit on its own, or you can include the wall sit as part of a more detailed lower body workout, or a circuit focusing on the glutes or core muscles. We've included a few popular variations of wall sit ups further down in the article, which you can incorporate into your own personalized wall sit training routine!
You really can do this exercise anywhere with a wall; just ensure that the wall space is clear and that there is plenty of room for you to comfortably and safely complete the wall sit. For extra comfort, you can place an exercise mat on the floor to stand on.
We recommend stretching and performing some light cardio before you commence your workout session.
- Select a clear, smooth section of wall with enough space for you to perform the exercise.
- Stand tall with your back firmly placed against the wall and with your heels against the wall.
- Loop a hip band around your thighs, keeping it just above your knees.
- Keeping your back held firmly against the wall, take small steps forward.
- Keep stepping forward and slide your back down the wall as you extend your feet outwards.
- When your legs have achieved a right angle position against the wall (or as close as you can get), hold the position.
- Keep your muscles tense, your back firmly held against the wall, and your feet firmly planted into the ground.
- Try to hold the wall sit for at least 20 seconds.
- When you can't hold any longer, push your back up against the wall and stand tall again.
- Repeat for as many repetitions as you can!
How long should you hold the wall sit for?
We recommend trying to hold the wall sit for at least 20 seconds, as we mentioned in the exercise instructions above. This will give your body time to workout against the wall and gravity!
For anyone just starting out with the exercise, we suggest aiming for no longer than 20 seconds for the first few sessions. Give your body time to build strength and to condition itself, before extending the time that you're holding the exercise for.
Slowly increase how long you can hold the exercise, and aim to eventually reach one minute. Any longer than this and you could start to strain your muscles. Remember that this exercise is all about positioning, and you need to keep your back straight against the wall and your thighs parallel to the floor, for it to be at its most effective.
As you make progress with the exercise, you can vary the resistance and the difficulty of the wall sit by holding it for longer, and by using different hip bands, offering higher or lower resistance.
Wall sit variations
To vary the exercise or to create a more in-depth wall sit workout routine, there are several great variations that you can incorporate into your training routines.
The following exercises will use the wall sit we've explained above, as the base, with minor alterations that we'll explain below. Here are the best wall sit variations you can perform at home:
Wall sit with hip abduction
The wall sit with hip abduction is a great way to build stronger hips, while also working out the rest of your lower body. This is a fantastic core building exercise that will help you to avoid everyday injuries!
You'll need a resistance band looped around your thighs. Adopt the wall sit position, with your legs at a right angle to the wall. Bring them back to the middle and then push them apart again. As you hold the position, push out with your hips and move your knees away from each other. Repeat this for as long as you can hold the wall sit.
Single-leg wall sit
The single-leg wall sit is a great way to build the muscles in individual legs, while also strengthening your core and hip muscles. You can perform this exercise using a resistance band looped around your thighs, but it's a tough one to hold at first!
Start by adopting the standard wall sit position, and keep your legs at right angles to the wall. When your ready, lift one leg into the air and extend it forward, keeping your other leg firmly planted on the floor. Hold the position, with your leg raised, parallel to the floor, for as long as you can. Switch legs and repeat the hold.
Wall sit with bicep curls
You can use light weights to work your arms at the same time as you're holding the wall sit. This is a great all-body exercise that will really help you build definition in your biceps!
Select appropriate weights for your fitness and hold them in either hand as you adopt the basic wall sit position. When you're ready, you can use your biceps to curl the weights while you're holding the wall sit.
Weighted wall sit
If you're struggling to hold the position and perform bicep curls, you can simply hold the weights at the same time as you're in the wall sit position. Select an appropriate weight for your fitness and hold one in each hand as you adopt the standard wall position.
Keep the weights held on top of your thighs as you also hold the wall sit position. This helps you to build more muscle in your arms while also adding more weight to your legs too. If you're struggling to keep balance while doing bicep curls, then the weighted wall sit is a great alternative exercise to try out. You can increase the difficulty by increasing the weight that you're holding!
Wall sit muscles worked
Wall sits target multiple muscle groups in your lower body, including your bag and legs. It's a great way to work out several different muscles in one exercise, which is why we love incorporating wall sits into our lower body circuits.
Here are the major muscles targeted by the exercise:
- Hip abductors
- Lower back
There are several major benefits that you can quickly realize by including regular wall sits in your exercise routines. These include the following:
- Build strength in your lower body (it's a complete lower body workout)
- Burn fat and lose calories
- Define and tone your lower body muscles (especially your glutes and legs)
- Enjoy multiple variations of the exercise (lift weights to work your arms too)
- Increase the intensity of the workout using resistance bands
- Improve your posture and stability
- Avoid long term back injuries or chronic back pains
- Improve your overall health and fitness
The final word on the wall sit workout
The wall sit is one of our favorite exercises for strengthening the lower body, and we love how so many different muscles are worked out at the same time. Don't forget to use your resistance bands to up the intensity of the workout, especially once you've perfected the technique!
Why not include the wall sit in your next lower body workout?