Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To: Wall Sits

How many of you remember those President's Challenges you had to do in your grade school gym classes? Think chin-ups, long jumps, timed miles...and wall sits. Back then, I hated wall sits and I hated those challenges (and gym class). But today, I'm all over the wall sits. They might be the only leg exercise that really, truly makes my quads burn with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I've been doing them in my HIIT class every Wednesday morning. We're up to three minutes, and I have every intention of adding :30 tomorrow morning. I'm pretty sure they'll hate me for it, but that's how it goes (insert evil laugh here).

To celebrate their impending achievement of a 3:30 wall sit, and to reintroduce this excellent exercise to you, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about proper technique. Or, how to do a wall sit. Because even though it's not a complicated exercise, there are things you can do to assure proper form (and consequently, a more efficient wall sit).

All you need is a wall (obviously). And a clock.


1) Find a wall that meets a floor that isn't slippery. You need good grip to keep proper form. In addition, you'll want the clock to be straight ahead of you (or on your wrist). Excess movements wastes energy and compromises form.

2) Start with your feet hip-width apart and slightly in front of you, then lean back into the wall. Slide down into position—your knees should end up right above your ankles in a 90-degree bend. Don't let them move in or out. Keep the pressure into your feet evenly distributed from heel to toe.

2) Keep your arms relaxed at your side or in your lap. Do not brace with them, meaning, do not press into your legs or the wall. All of the work in a wall sit should be done by your legs. Bracing with your arms will take away from this (<—this is what we call "cheating").

3) Keep your back and shoulders against the wall, maintaining a neutral spine. This means your lower back might not necessarily touch the wall as it can naturally curve inward a bit. This does not mean, however, that your hips can tilt forward. Keep a neutral pelvis, too.

4) Keep your eyes on the prize (the clock). Don't look down, up or side to side. Just like your pelvis, your neck should remain neutral, too.

5) When the legs start to burn, just focus on your breathing and the clock. If you find yourself sliding down, or closing that 90-degree bend, then call it quits.

Slide back up when your done, pat yourself on the back and stretch out those legs! Shoot for a repeat next time around, and when it starts to get easy, tack on a few more seconds.

Question: If you did a wall sit right now, how long could you hold it for? (Yep, I'm challenging you!)


Axel Kussmann said...

These days, I use a medicine ball between my legs on my wall sits (though I forget why). I used to have to do them as part of a strength circuit when I was on a rowing team in grad school.

2 or 3 teammates and I would have to do the wall-sit for the 1 minute station; you had a perfect view of the station on the other side of the gym which involved doing sprints to and from the wall-sit station. When the girls were on that station running towards and away from us, it made the time go by faster

adailydoseoffit said...

Hysterical! Anything to make the time go by, right? As for the medicine ball, squeezing it between your legs would certainly activate those inner thigh muscles!

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