How to Do a Wall Sit: A Beginner’s Guide

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

The wall sit – the most simple and elementary exercise that anyone can do anywhere. All you need is a wall and, well, yourself!

But even if it sounds simple, there are quite a few things you need to watch in order to do them correctly. Too quickly, it can turn into an ineffective exercise without rewards. But in this article, we’ll show you how to do wall sits properly, its variations, its benefits, and some results you can achieve with it.

How to do a Wall Sit

Let’s start off with the basics. It’s crucial that you master the form first before you go for long holds. It looks like an easy exercise, sure, but there are some mistakes you can make along the way. Let’s make sure you don’t do them!

Just follow these steps to perform proper wall sits easily.

  1. Find a straight wall (duh!) and lean your back against it. Make sure your back is flat as you lean up against the wall (Note: It’s better to do the exercise with a smooth wall which will not hurt your back as you hold the wall sit for prolonged periods)
  2. Make sure you’re not doing this on a slippery surface! If you have shoes on, that’s fine, but if you do it at home, you might find yourself on a slippery surface – avoid that
  3. Then, walk your feet away from the wall. Place them firmly on the ground and about two feet away from the wall, and have them at the width of your shoulders
  4. While leaning back against the wall, slide down with your upper body until you reach the level of about 90 degrees – both in your hips and in your knees
  5. Place your hands onto the wall or cross them in front of you
  6. Hold in this position for as long as you can handle

Now, at first, you might only be able to handle a few seconds, and that’s okay. But you should be able to notice a difference quite quickly. After a few times of doing this, you should be able to hold comfortably for a minute or even longer.

Important: don’t give up at first signs of trouble or pain! It’s normal that you will experience some tiredness of your leg muscles after the first few seconds, especially if you’re a beginner. The strength of mind is just as important as the strength of muscles here!

Common Wall Sit Mistakes

So as you might have seen by now, wall sits are intended to be one of the simplest exercises for your legs that you can do anywhere. However, be mindful of your form and make sure you do them correctly. Here are some of the most common mistakes beginners do with wall sits.

  • Your feet are not firm on the ground. This is quite common. The most common theme here is that beginners tend to lift their heels and don’t put them completely on the ground as they do this exercise. This will focus your calves instead of glutes and quads, so make sure you have your feet on the ground.
  • The angle of your thighs is not 90 degrees. In more simple terms, your thighs are not parallel to the ground. It’s not a problem if you have your thighs higher – this makes the exercise less challenging. The problem is when you have your thighs deeper than 90 degrees. It can hurt your knees and joints, but it’s also not as effective
  • Knees bent too far forward. Your knees should never extend past your ankles. They should be in line with your ankles. Avoiding this keeps your knees safer and puts more focus on the muscles.
  • Collapsing after finishing. Yes, the exercise is challenging – but pick yourself up instead of falling right down to the ground. It might seem a bit trivial, but this will actually help you protect your knees and help you recover faster.

Wall Sits Benefits

A simple exercise like wall sits can have extraordinary benefits, especially for your legs.

1. They Work Your Legs

Wall sits will primarily work your quads, but a lot of the focus will also be on your glutes, hamstrings, and even calves to an extent. So it’s a compound exercise that puts focus on your entire leg, even though it focuses more on endurance rather than pure strength.

2. You Can do them Anywhere, Anytime

The biggest benefit of this exercise is that you can do them almost anywhere you want. Do you have some free time at work in your office? Lean against a wall and start doing wall sits. You can do them at home, in the gym, in your garage, or even in the street. Whenever you desire a good workout for your legs, you can do it.

3. They Improve Your Endurance

Wall sits are focused on endurance rather than pure strength. That’s because they focus on different types of muscles than say, squats, or deadlifts.

Wall sits will activate your Type I fibers, which are the slow-twitch fibers, which are responsible for endurance. Type II fibers, on the other hand, are fast-twitch fibers, which are responsible for strength and explosiveness.

So wall sits will serve you nicely when you go for a run, and when you play sports for prolonged periods.

4. Easy to Do

Almost anyone can do wall sits. Even if you have had (or have) knee or leg problems, you can do easier variations of wall sits. You can alter the angle of your knees and hips to make the exercise tailored specifically for your needs.

They also don’t require any equipment at all – just a good ol’ wall and yourself! Although you can add other equipment to the workout, such as dumbbells, vests, and other accessories to make the exercise more interesting (skip to the Variations part if you’re interested in that!).

5. Decent Calorie Burner

Even if the wall sit is a stationary exercise, it will burn calories. So they can also be added to your cardio routine if you want, as an intermediary exercise between your moving exercises. Of course, it can act as a good exercise to warm up, or as one of the exercises in your leg routine.

In any case, the wall sits burn calories. According to CDC, wall sits will burn anywhere between 15-18 calories for about five minutes of the wall sit hold. It’s something!

6. Anyone Can Do Them

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, a 70-year old, or a 12-year old – anyone can do wall sits. The holds might vary as well as the angles of your legs, but the idea remains the same, as well as the effectiveness.

For example, professional skiers use this exercise to complement their leg workouts. It’s great for them because it helps them build endurance, which they sorely need in their sport.

On the other hand, you will see many beginners and even advanced gym-goers do this exercise at the gym. It’s just such a highly-flexible exercise that allows almost anyone to benefit from it.

Wall Sit Variations

This is yet another benefit of wall sits. You can combine different elements of the exercise and add variations to it so that it’s more challenging, or that it works different muscles at the same time.

Wall sit is a fun exercise that allows for different equipment types to be added to the workout; and with some simple adjustments, you can make the exercise more fun but also more challenging. Here are some variations you can try.

1. Single-Leg Wall Sits

When you’ve advanced slightly with this exercise, you can try this variation. It’s practically the same as the usual wall sit, only instead, you do it on one leg.

The main difference here is that you might have to lean further back to get balance in order to do the exercise. You’ll have one leg firmly on the ground, and the other one extended in front of you. Here’s how to do it.

2. Wall Sit + Bicep Curl

What a combo this is! Instead of letting your arms slip to the side and sort of do nothing with them, you can put dumbbells in each hand and start doing bicep curls with them!

You can do this with lighter dumbbells, of course. This combo is great because it focuses on multiple muscle groups at the same time – you’ll work your biceps as well as your legs!

3. Wall Sits with Weights/Vest

Normal wall sits too easy for you? Don’t worry, you can always make them harder. You can simply hold dumbbells in your hands, although you’re slightly limited here by the weight of the dumbbell.

You can take it a step further and add weights onto your legs as you hold the wall sit. This will put some extra focus on your legs and make it more challenging for you. Don’t be surprised if your wall sit time reduces after doing this!

An alternative to the weights is to use a weight vest. Again, you’re limited by the weight of the vest, so if you don’t have a heavy vest, just use weights.

4. Wall Sit + Overhead Press

If you’d like to work your shoulders at the same time as your legs, you can try this variation. It’s similar to the bicep variation, only that you do overhead presses instead of curls.

Wall Sit Challenge Before and After

Up for a challenge? You can take your wall sit game up a few levels with a simple challenge. Two reasons why a challenge might be good for you:

  • It keeps you accountable
  • It helps you track your progress with your hold times

The challenge lasts 30 days, and you’ll almost certainly see some great results by doing this just for a couple of seconds or even minutes every day. The best thing is that you’ll be able to progress quite quickly and start seeing results as you go.

Start the first day with a 10-second hold. Then add 10 seconds to the hold each day as you progress. You can start anywhere you feel comfortable, though. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can start with, let’s say, 30 seconds. As long as you add 10 seconds to the hold each day, you’ll be able to reach 300 seconds by the end of the month or more.

The challenge should look like this:

Day 1: 10 seconds of wall sit
Day 2: 20 seconds
Day 3: 30 seconds

Day 30: 300 seconds

There’s no doubt this is one of the better ways to build your wall sit strength.

FAQ

What do wall sits do?

Wall sits will help you improve the endurance of your legs, especially of your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To some extent, they also work your calves. You can expect to build your stamina and endurance with wall sits, improve the strength of your legs, improve your stability, and get endurance for sports.

What is a good wall sit time?

A good wall sit time as anything you can handle. At first, this might be just a couple of seconds. But once you progress, you’ll see the wall sit times improve. A good time to use for sets is anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds, provided you do multiple sets. Longer than 60 seconds is already impressive.

Do wall sits make your bum bigger?

You betcha! If you’re starting out with a small booty, then you can expect wall sits to improve your glutes which can make your bum bigger. But if you have a lot of fat, you can expect the wall sits to start melting that fat and make your bum well-rounded.

Are wall sits bad for you?

It depends. If you have knee or joint problems, then it might not be a good exercise for you. And if you’re looking to build strength, wall sits do provide some benefits, but if you’re more advanced, other exercises such as squats will help you build strength. If your knees hurt when you do wall sits, then you might want to strengthen your knee first.

Conclusion

Wall sits are one of the best leg exercises for beginners. They can be done anywhere and at any time, provided you have a wall near you. It’s also a good exercise to build endurance, as it allows you to progress and hold the wall sit for longer with time. Hopefully, you now know everything there is to know about the wall sit and that you’ll be able to put it to good use.

🏋️ What’s Your Perfect Home Gym? 🏋️

Take our free quiz and in under sixty-seconds, you’ll we’ll recommend the perfect equipment for your home gym. 

🏋️ Completely free to try
🏋️ No email opt-in
🏋️ Get your results instantly

Take The Quiz Now