(800) 545-4772
Sign In
ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline,, Wall Sit, Master the Wall Sit—Good Form, Variations, & Common Mistakes

Master the Wall Sit—Benefits, Form, Variations, & Common Mistakes

Reading Time: 6 minutes 30 seconds


DATE: 2023-01-12

If you’ve ever tried wall sits, you have felt the burn. If you really challenge yourself with this simple exercise, you’ll get serious benefits. It’s easy to overlook the simple moves, but sometimes they are the most powerful. Here are a few reasons why. 

About Wall Sits

A wall sit is a simple isometric strengthening exercise for the lower body. To do it, you press your back against a wall while holding a sitting position. 

An exercise is isometric when it involves holding a position rather than moving to lengthen or contract muscles. It requires and builds muscle endurance. Another example of an isometric exercise is a plank hold. 

While there is a lot of focus on the quadriceps during this exercise, a wall sit strengthens the entire lower body. You can try a few variations to focus more on different muscles. 

Try these other isometric exercises for a complete workout that doesn’t require much equipment. 

Wall Sit Benefits

Wall sits are simple, accessible, effective, and easy to adapt and vary. Here are the top reasons to add them to your or your clients’ routines. 

1. Wall Sits Build Lower Body Muscle Strength

This is the most obvious benefit of doing wall sits. It’s a strength training move that recruits many muscles of the lower body and helps them get stronger over time. Lower body strength supports everything you do, from daily functional movements to sports and athletics. 

The main lower body muscles worked in a wall sit include your quads, glutes, and calves:

  • Quadriceps: The quadriceps muscles are a group of four muscles located in the front of your thighs (hamstrings on back). They are responsible for extending your knees and flexing your hips. When you do a wall sit, your quadriceps are heavily engaged as you hold the position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

  • Glutes: The glutes, or buttocks muscles, are responsible for extending your hips and rotating your legs outward. They also help to support your body weight and maintain proper posture. Your glutes are working to keep you upright and help you maintain the proper position.

  • Calves: The calves are the muscles in the back of your lower legs. They are responsible for plantar flexion, or pointing your toes downward. During a wall sit, your calves are engaged as they help you maintain proper balance and support your body weight.

2. Improve Balance and Core Strength

While the lower body is the focus of this move, holding a wall sit also requires you to balance in a slightly unstable position. This means you need to recruit core muscles to hold you in position, and that builds strength in them. 

3. Wall Sits Are Simple

Simplicity is great in strength training because it makes exercises accessible to more people. You don’t need any equipment beyond a wall to do this exercise. Form is important, but it’s pretty basic. Don’t confuse simple with easy, though. Hold a wall sit until you feel the burn, and you’ll soon realize that it’s harder than it looks. 

Simple exercises like this are essential for people who can’t always make it to the gym. Here are some additional ideas for a home gym that doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment. 

4. Wall Sit Benefits Include Muscle Endurance

As an isometric exercise, a wall sit does more than just build muscle strength. It also increases muscular endurance. Isometric exercises are static. They require you to tense and hold your muscles in a single position. 

The longer you can hold a wall sit, the greater the endurance you have in the muscles involved. Endurance is important for athletic activities but also for day-to-day activities. They’ll feel easier, and you’ll be able to do more and for longer, with increased endurance. 

5. Burn Some Calories While You’re at it

This is primarily a strength exercise, but of course it also elevates your heart rate and burns calories. Large, compound strength training moves like a wall sit are better for burning calories than those that isolate single muscles or small groups. When you target all of the legs and glutes, your muscles really rev up your metabolism. 

6. Wall Sits Are Not Bad for Your Knees 

Wall sits, for most people, are good rather than bad for the knees. They strengthen all the muscles that support the knee joint. A wall sit can also improve mobility in the joint and increase flexibility. 

If you can’t do squats because they hurt your knees, a wall sit might be an alternative your joints can handle. There is less movement through the joint and you have your back against the wall to support and take some load off the knees. 

If you have any type of knee injury or knee pain, talk to your doctor before doing any new kind of exercise. If a wall sit causes your knee to hurt, stop doing it right away. It could be a form issue, or you could have an injury that the sitting position exacerbates. 

7. Build Mental Strength

Holding a wall sit while your thighs are shaking and your heart is pumping isn’t easy. This is a great exercise for building mental endurance as well as physical endurance. It builds mental toughness for sports and other activities that require you to persevere in the face of discomfort. 

How to Do a Wall Sit Exercise

A wall sit is simple, but as with any exercise, you have to get the form right. Proper form allows you to hit the targeted muscles and avoid pain and injury. 

  • Stand with your back against a sturdy wall. 

  • Walk your feet forward about two feet. 

  • Keeping your feet approximately shoulder or hip-width apart, slide your back down the wall as you bend at the hips, knees, and ankles. 

  • In the correct position, you should have a 90-degree bend at the hip, knee, and ankle joints. 

  • Hold the sit with good form, engaging your core and lower body to stay in position. 

  • When you’re ready to stand, push into your heels land slide up the wall to standing. 

If you’re new to wall sits, start slowly, with 10 or 20 seconds for a hold. You can also ease into the 90 degrees. Don’t sink down so deep if you’re not ready or if it feels uncomfortable or painful. 

Always watch where your knees are. They should never hyperextend or shoot out over your feet. Keep them over the ankles. Also watch out for your knees bowing inward or outward. They should remain straight and pointing forward throughout the hold. 

Wall Sit Variations

Here’s an additional benefit of wall sits: they’re easy to vary. In addition to starting easier with a shallower bend, you can change the exercise to focus on different muscles or to make it more challenging. 

Add a Stability Ball

Place a stability ball between your back and the wall to make a sit a little more challenging. This requires more balance and core engagement. You can also use this stability ball wall sit variation if placing your back against a wall is uncomfortable. 

Add a Weight

When holding a wall sit for a minute or so is no longer too difficult, add a weight. Hold a dumbbell or plate over your legs as you hold the position with good form. 

Use a Resistance Band

If your clients are looking for a little extra challenge, you can have them put a resistance band on the outside of their thighs, just above the knees. Clients will engage more muscles holding themselves up while simultaneously keeping resistance on the band to prevent the knees from caving in.

Squeeze a Medicine Ball

Much like the resistance band, a larger medicine ball can add difficulty by forcing the client to hold the isometric contraction while activating the inner thigh muscles to keep the medicine ball from dropping.

March it Out

Also more challenging is a one-legged wall sit. While in position, lift one foot off the floor and extend the leg forward. Switch to the other leg. You can do this rapidly like a march or hold for a period of time on each leg. 

Add Upper Body Exercises

As long as you’re just sitting there, you might as well fit in some upper body training, right? Use dumbbells to do biceps curls or shoulder raises or presses at the same time. 

Add Calf Raises

The bigger muscles in your legs tend to get more attention, but the calves are important too. Challenge them by raising your feet up on your toes during a wall sit. 

Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes some clients make when adding wall sits to their workout plan.

1. Incorrect Foot Placement

If the feet are in the wrong place, the client can experience additional stress on the knees or lower back. The toes should point forward, and the ankles should be under or slightly in front of the knees. The weight of the body should be in the heels with the toes also on the ground.

2. Rounding the Shoulders/Spine Comes Away from the Wall

The spine should remain neutral throughout the entire wall squat. So, although not every single part of the back will touch the wall (because the spine naturally curves), parts of the back and shoulders will have contact with the wall throughout the movement.

3. Not Low Enough

If your client sits too high, the legs don't have to work as hard. So, if they want to challenge the quads, they need to get low enough (knees at a 90-degree angle).

Do you have a passion for fitness? Do you like working with people? If so, personal training might be your dream career. Check out the ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program to get started.

Featured Course

ISSA | Certified Personal Trainer

Start your dream career completely online! Take the course, pass the certification final exam, and be guaranteed a job - or your money back!

Sign Up & Stay Connected

Receive $50 off your purchase today!

I consent to being contacted by ISSA.