The wall sit, also known as a static squat, is an isometric strength training and weight loss exercise that involves holding a squatting position with your back against a wall. This position works several muscle groups in the legs and core by forcing them to contract statically without moving the joints.
Many people do wall sits as part of their strength training or weight loss regimens because they provide an intense workout for the legs and burn calories. But exactly how many calories does a wall sit burn? And what factors affect the calorie burn?
What is a wall sit?
A wall sit involves standing with your back against a wall, then sliding down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle and your back remains flat against the wall. The lower legs are perpendicular to the floor.
This creates an isometric hold that works the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and core. You hold the squatting position statically without moving up or down.
To do a wall sit:
1. Stand with your back flat against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart a few inches from the wall. Engage your core.
2. Bend your knees and sink down into a squat position, sliding your back down the wall. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
3. Maintain the squat position, keeping your back flat and core engaged. Do not let your knees extend past your toes.
4. Hold the position for the desired time. Beginners can start with 30 seconds to 1 minute.
5. Press back up using the wall for support to return to starting position. This completes one rep.
You can do multiple reps of wall sits by holding the squat repeatedly for time. Or do one continuous wall sit for an extended period.
The wall sit targets the following major muscle groups:
– Quadriceps (front of thighs) – contracting isometrically to hold the squat position.
– Hamstrings (back of thighs) – contracting isometrically to hold the squat.
– Glutes (buttocks) – contracting isometrically to hold the lowered position.
– Core muscles – engaged to keep back flat and body stabilized.
– Calf muscles – engaged to keep heels on the floor.
This makes the wall sit an excellent comprehensive strength exercise for the lower body and core. Holding the position isometrically forces sustained muscle contraction leading to fatigue.
Benefits of wall sits
Here are some of the benefits of incorporating wall sits into your exercise routine:
– Strengthens and tones quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
– Engages core muscles for stabilization
– Burns calories by using multiple large muscle groups
– Can be done anywhere with a wall and space to squat
– Intense lower body exercise that is joint-friendly and low impact
– Can boost weight loss when done consistently
– Improves stability, balance, and coordination
– Increases muscle endurance in the lower body
Overall, wall sits are an effective exercise for building total lower body strength. The sustained isometric hold targets muscles efficiently.
How many calories does a wall sit burn?
The number of calories burned during a wall sit depends on a few key factors:
– Your weight – Heavier individuals burn more calories performing exercises.
– Duration – Longer wall sits burn more calories by sustaining muscle contractions.
– Intensity – Proper form and depth impact difficulty and calorie burn.
– Muscle mass – More muscle mass equals greater calorie burn.
According to Harvard Health, a 155 lb (70 kg) person burns approximately 167 calories per hour doing a wall sit. This is based on the exercise having a metabolic equivalent of task (MET) of 5.
For other weights, the approximate calories burned per hour are:
|Calories burned per hour
|100 lbs (45 kg)
|125 lbs (56 kg)
|150 lbs (68 kg)
|175 lbs (79 kg)
|200 lbs (91 kg)
For a 30 minute wall sit, divide the calories per hour in half. So at 155 lbs you would burn around 84 calories in a 30 minute session.
These estimates are for continuous wall sitting. Taking short breaks slightly reduces the calories expended. But longer durations clearly result in greater calorie expenditure.
Factors that influence calories burned
Several factors influence the number of calories burned doing wall sits:
Heavier individuals burn more calories performing the same exercise for the same duration. This is because more muscle is being activated to hold a larger frame in the wall sit position.
Wall sit time
Calorie expenditure increases directly with longer duration wall sits. Sitting for 60 minutes burns twice the calories of a 30 minute session.
Perfecting wall sit form increases difficulty and calories burned. Go lower into the squat and maintain a tight core. Inefficient form reduces calorie expenditure.
Wall sit intervals
Taking shorter breaks between timed wall sits decreases overall calories used. Doing more continuous sets maximizes calories expended.
Individuals with greater muscle mass, especially in the legs, burn more calories performing wall sits than less muscular people at an equivalent weight.
Pushing to muscle fatigue forces more energy expenditure and calorie burn. Easy, casual wall sits reduce calories used.
How to burn more calories doing wall sits
Here are some tips to maximize the number of calories expended during wall sit exercise:
– Increase wall sit duration up to several minutes for more total calorie burn.
– Reduce rest time between sets to elevate heart rate and energy expenditure.
– Add resistance by holding weights or squeeze a ball between knees.
– Perfect form by going into a deep squat against the wall with a tight core.
– Advance to single-leg wall sits for a more intense variation.
– Combine with other exercises like planks and lunges in a circuit routine.
– Maintain intensity and continually challenge yourself as you improve.
– Use wall sits in a HIIT (high intensity interval training) program for spikes in calories burned.
– Increase muscle size in legs and glutes with targeted strength training.
– Remain hydrated and fuel up properly to support extended wall sitting sessions.
Burning more calories during your wall sit workout optimizes the exercise for weight loss and cardiovascular health. Follow a progressive training plan to continually increase difficulty.
Wall sits generate high levels of muscle activation, especially in the quadriceps.
One study compared muscle activity during a wall sit versus a back squat. Researchers measured the electrical activity in the muscles using EMG.
They found that wall sits produced 95-105% as much quadriceps activation compared to a 75% 1-rep max back squat. Overall muscle intensity was 65-75% as high for the wall sit versus squat when more muscles were analyzed.
This demonstrates how effectively wall sits target the quadriceps in particular. The sustained isometric hold requires constant muscle activation to maintain the lowered position.
Greater muscle activation equates to more calories expended as the muscles work harder. Proper depth is key for fully activating leg muscles.
Weight loss benefits
Including wall sits as part of a comprehensive weight loss program can enhance results:
Total body exercise
Wall sits engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, and calves simultaneously. Working large muscle groups across upper and lower body burns more calories.
High intensity wall sits spike metabolism and increase your resting calorie burn after exercise. This helps create a sustained calorie deficit.
Gaining lean muscle raises your daily calorie requirements even at rest. Do wall sits consistently to see muscle growth over time.
Wall sits can be scaled from beginner to advanced. Use longer durations, single-legs, and added resistance to match any fitness level.
No equipment is required beyond a wall. This makes wall sits convenient to do at home, at the gym, while traveling, or anywhere with some open space.
For best weight loss results, combine wall sits with proper nutrition, aerobic exercise, resistance training, and recovery. Consistency is key.
Those new to wall sits often make these form errors:
– Not going low enough into the squat
– Leaning forward off the wall
– Knees extending past toes
– Back arching or rounding
– Head tilting forward
– Knees widening outward
– Heels coming off the floor
– Not engaging core muscles
– Holding breath instead of exhaling
Be mindful of proper form during your wall sits. Correcting errors will make them more challenging and improve calorie burn.
Have someone observe you or record yourself to check for flaws. Reduce depth or time held if unable to maintain good form.
Other exercises that efficiently burn calories through static holds include:
Like wall sits, planks burn calories through total body isometric contraction. Hold a prone bridge position on elbows or hands to engage the core, back, shoulders and legs.
Lying on your back, raise your hips up into a bridge with knees bent. Squeeze glutes to hold the top position statically.
Overhead squat hold
Stand holding weight overhead in a squat position. Maintaining this challenges the entire body.
Sink into a back or front lunge then hold the lowered position to work the legs isometrically.
Hold a deep bodyweight squat with no movement to burn calories in the legs and glutes.
Mixing up static holds with wall sits will provide muscle balance and avoid overuse. It also allows you to directly compare calorie burn between exercises.
When performing wall sits, keep these safety tips in mind:
– Warm up muscles beforehand with light cardio and leg swings
– Wear shoes with flat soles to avoid heel lift
– Engage core and glutes to protect lower back
– Stop sitting if knees hurt or feel strained
– Avoid locking knees in the lowered position
– Monitor form and reduce time held if technique declines
– Hold support initially until strength develops
– Stay hydrated and properly fueled during long sessions
– Allow rest between high rep sets to avoid overfatigue
– Discontinue if you experience pain, dizziness or other symptoms
Building up gradually allows the body to adapt to the demands of wall sits. This minimizes injury risk. Master form with shorter holds first before increasing time.
Wall sits are an effective exercise for burning calories and working the major muscles of the lower body isometrically. Calories burned per hour ranges from approximately 109-218 depending on your body weight. Heavier individuals burn more calories performing wall sits.
Lengthening wall sit duration, reducing rest periods, using proper form, and increasing leg muscle size will maximize calorie expenditure. Combining wall sits with other calisthenics, resistance training, and HIIT enhances weight loss results.
Work towards safely progressing to longer wall sit holds. But be cautious of overdoing duration too quickly. Maintain proper form and listen to your body. Used smartly, wall sits can be a challenging addition to your workout routine.