Wall sits primarily target the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thigh) and your glutes (the muscles in your rear end). So, when you perform a wall sit workout, you will mostly feel the burn in your thighs and rear. Wall sits also engage the core muscles (abs and lower back), calves, and hamstrings (muscles in the back of your thigh) as secondary muscles. However, these secondary muscles are not worked as hard as the quads and glutes.
Top 5 Muscles Worked by Wall Sits
If you are planning to add wall sits to your routine, you may be wondering exactly what muscles you’ll be working with this exercise. Below, we’ll cover what muscles get worked and how hard they work. This way, you can combine wall sits with other lower body exercises to get a complete workout.
Your quadriceps muscles (aka quads) will do the bulk of the work when you perform a wall sit. The quadriceps are the 4 muscles that make up the front of your thigh, running from your groin to your knee. This is also one of the primary muscles used during movements such as squats and lunges.
In addition to the quads, your glutes are worked hard during wall sits. The glutes (or gluteus maximus) are the muscles that make up your rear end. If you’re looking to tone or strengthen your booty muscles, wall sits will help you accomplish this goal.
Your calves will be worked as a secondary muscle during wall sits. Mostly, your calves work to stabilize your legs as you hold the wall sit position. However, the workload on your calves during wall sits is fairly small. To build calf muscle tone and strength, add calf raises, jump rope, or cycling to your workout routine.
Holding the proper wall sit position with a straight back requires you to tense your lower back and abdominal muscles. While this will increase muscular endurance in your core slightly, you won’t get a total ab workout from wall sits. We recommend performing an ab workout that begins with planks, then graduates to the ab wheel.
Your hamstrings make up the muscles on the back of your thigh, running from the back of your knee up to the glutes. These muscles work as secondary muscles during wall sits but they are activated to a much smaller degree than the quads and glutes. If you’d like to focus on your hamstrings, perform single-leg deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts.
How to Do Wall Sits for Strength
In order to perform wall sits in a manner that will build stronger, more toned leg muscles, it’s important to work out with wall sits 2–3 times per week with rest days in between. Here’s the ideal program for using wall sits for strength:
- Perform wall sits 2–3 times per week.
- Always allow at least 48 hours between wall sit workouts (if you do wall sits on Monday, don’t do them again until Wednesday at the soonest).
- Do 3–5 wall sits each time you do a wall sit workout.
- Rest 60–90 seconds between wall sits.
- Set a goal time for your wall sits (start with 20–30 seconds per wall sit).
- If you meet your goal time for all your wall sits, add 5 seconds to each wall sit next time you work out.
- Once you can hold each wall sit for 60–90 seconds, challenge yourself with harder exercises.
- Include wall sits in a lower body workout with exercises that target the hamstrings, calves, and inner thighs.
As you gradually increase the duration of your wall sits, you’ll get stronger. Once you can do wall sits for 60 seconds or more, consider trying single-leg wall sits or switching to squats. You’ll keep seeing increases in strength and tone as you continue increasing the challenge of your workout.
Do Wall Sits Grow Glutes?
Wall sits have the potential to grow your glutes, but this potential is rather small. Because wall sits are an isometric exercise (an exercise that requires you to hold a single position), they do not have the ability to build as much muscle as movement exercises. To grow your glutes, try squats, lunges, split squats, and glute bridges. You’ll get more results with these exercises than you will with wall sits.
Do Wall Sits Work Inner Thighs?
Wall sits work the adductor muscles of your inner thighs minimally as a stabilizer muscle. However, wall sits are not designed to target, tone, or strengthen the inner thighs. If you want a good inner thigh workout, add sumo squats and lateral lunges to your workout routine. These exercises specifically target the inner thighs. By adding them to your workout plan, you’ll get better results than you will with wall sits alone.
Are Wall Sits as Good as Squats?
Wall sits are not as effective as squats for building muscle or burning calories. Some online fitness sources falsely claim that isometric exercises (exercises where you hold a single position) burn more calories than isotonic exercises (exercises where you move and complete repetitions). The truth is the opposite, according to the Mayo Clinic and other scientific sources. If you’re doing squats, you’ll get a better workout for your quads and glutes than you will with wall sits. Plus, you’ll raise your heart rate and burn more calories.
- Squats build more muscle and burn more calories than wall sits.
- Wall sits and squats target the same muscles, but squats are more effective.
- Despite what some sources claim, scientific studies show that exercises that require movement build muscle and burn fat more effectively than holding a static position.
Wall sits are a great beginner exercise, or a nice break from squats and lunges at the end of a long lower body workout. However, you’ll get more strength, tone, and fat-burning progress if you do squats instead of wall sits.
Do Wall Sits Build Muscle?
Wall sits have the potential to build some muscle and increase muscular endurance, but they are not as effective at muscle building as movement exercises. So, wall sits should be thought of as a beginner exercise before you graduate to something more challenging. The muscles worked by wall sits are:
- Primary Muscles: Quads, Glutes.
- Secondary Muscles: Calves, Abdominals, Lower Back, Hamstrings.
Once you’ve built strength in these muscles with wall sits, it’s a good idea to move to movement exercises. Great exercises that target these same muscle groups more effectively include squats, lunges, glute bridges, and step-ups.