How To Do The Wall Sit: A Great Exercise To Prevent Runner’s Knee

(Image credit: Unknown)

Walls are everywhere. Even in the deepest, darkest parts of the countryside there’ll be a few stones piled on top of one another to stop sheep roaming free and terrorising the neighbourhood. And yet most humans or sheep have likely never looked at a wall as the perfect piece of equipment to improve the strength and tone of their legs. That will all change, for humans at least, once they learn of the thigh-busting benefits of the wall sit.

The wall sit strengthens your lower body, especially your thighs, and improves stamina so you should be that little bit more sprightly at the end of your next long run. Sufferers of runner’s knee in particular could benefit from wall sits, as the strengthening effect they have your quad muscles can help prevent the condition.

How To Do The Wall Sit

Stand near a wall (around two feet away). You’re probably thinking any old distance will do, but complacency on wall proximity is the one true danger in the wall sit. Stand too far away and you’ll miss the wall entirely and potentially crack your head open, and being too near will prevent you getting your legs into the right position during the exercise.

Lean back against the wall with your torso, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then press back and slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Your knees should be above your ankles and bent at right-angles. Keep your head, shoulders and upper back against the wall and hold the position.

Hold for between 20 seconds and a minute, rest for 30 seconds and do it again. Repeat three to five times, trying to add five seconds each time. Then the next time you do the exercise, see if you can hold your first sit for 10 seconds longer.

Wall Sit Variations

Weighted wall sit

The easiest way to progress the exercise is to add some weight. You can hold a medicine ball, dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest or rest a weight plate on your lap. Either way it’s going to up the ante for your legs and core.

Single-leg wall sit


(Image credit: Unknown)

As you’d expect, lifting one leg off the ground makes the exercise much tougher. Get into the standard position, then point one leg straight out in front of you. This increases the challenge to your standing leg as well as to your core, which has to resist the natural inclination to fall over to one side.

Exercise ball wall sit

Your thighs are under a lot of tension during the standard wall sit, but if you determine that your inner thighs are getting off somewhat lightly you can target them directly by holding an exercise ball between them during the exercise. You can use an inflatable ball or, for more of a challenge, a heavy medicine ball. If you’re finding the exercise too tough then just let the ball drop (assuming the floor can handle a hit from a heavy med ball) and see if you can get to the end of the time you’re aiming for in the standard wall sit position.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.