I did a 5-minute wall sit every day for a week — here’s what happened to my legs

Woman performing a wall sit outdoors in the sunshine with both arms extended
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you think a five-minute wall sit would be a piece of cake, then you’re mistaken. Doing a five-minute wall sit every day for a week is not a fitness challenge for the faint-hearted — and to find out more, I opted to add them to my morning routine for seven days. Read on to find out what happened. 

I figured this challenge would be an easy one. As a runner and a personal trainer, I have pretty strong legs, and I envisioned I would be able to hop out of bed and sit against the wall as I checked my phone for anything I missed overnight. I was wrong — and on day one I realized I certainly would not be able to play around on my iPhone as my legs endured five minutes of torture.  

What is a wall sit, how do you do one and what are the benefits? 

Let’s start with how to do a wall sit: 

  • To get into a wall sit, stand against a wall, and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Feet should be stepped out in front of you with knees at a right angle and calves perpendicular to your thighs.
  • Your back should be pressed firmly against the wall.
  • Hold this position for a minute, or as long as possible.

Want to make it harder? Pop a weight plate or one of the best adjustable dumbbells over your quads for some extra resistance.  

an illustration of a woman doing a wall squat

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

As a personal trainer, I often see people cheating when doing the wall sit; as in, their legs aren’t at a right angle and they’re sliding up the wall. Alternatively, they won’t be pressing their back against the wall, instead, they’re leaning forwards, or they have stepped their feet too far forwards, which ultimately takes some of the strain off the legs. You want to ensure good form when holding a wall sit to really reap the benefits.

As for these benefits, wall sits really work your lower body hard as your quads hold your torso in position. Your hamstrings will also likely be screaming out as you hold your body upright. However, the classic wall sit is actually really great for your core muscles too as they will also be working to hold your body up against a wall. Might I add that the humble wall sit is also a test of mental strength too? 

I did a 5-minute wall sit every day for a week — here’s what happened 

I couldn’t actually do a five-minute wall sit

Seriously, this was tough. I thought five minutes would be easy, but after 60 seconds, I had to stand up and give my legs a shake. Then, I was having to do this every 30 to 45 seconds until I reached five minutes. Another time, I lasted 90 seconds before giving in for a leg shake. But 90 seconds really was my max. This challenge was a humbling experience and has definitely given me something to work on at the gym. 

My legs look and feel stronger

It might be in my head, but five minutes of holding a wall sit and keeping the quads under tension have definitely made a difference to my strength. Seven days later, when I look in the mirror, I feel they look more defined. Research has found that the length of time a muscle is under tension may impact muscle growth, so maybe it’s not all in my head. Confused? Read more here — Time under tension: what is it, and could it help you grow muscle?

I could feel my core muscles firing up

As I mentioned, the core is working during a wall sit. It’s essential to keep your core engaged throughout the wall sit, as you need your abs to work to hold you upright and keep you stable. I definitely felt this one in my core, as well as my legs.

My glutes got a workout

As a primarily lower body exercise, all the muscles in the legs are working throughout a wall sit. This includes the glutes, the largest and most significant muscle in the body. Although it’s really the quad muscles that are doing the most work during a wall sit if you actively think about the glutes holding you up (it’s that good old mind-to-muscle connection going on there) then you can feel them working that little bit more.

I will 100% be doing more wall sits

Seriously, this is such a brutally addictive exercise that just has so many muscular benefits. My quads have never worked as hard as they did during a five-minute wall sit. From a PT perspective, I will definitely be adding more wall sits into my gym classes, encouraging clients to challenge themselves and see how long they can hold this lower body exercise. 

I did a five-minute wall sit every day for a week — here’s my verdict

This has been one of my favorite challenges, despite the fact that I couldn’t actually do it. Yes, I did have to give in on every wall sit I did as five minutes was simply too long for my legs to endure, but the benefits I felt doing wall sits mean I will continue to add them to my strength sessions. Might I add, my legs are fairly strong, so this is an exercise for everyone; from the beginner right up through to the more advanced gym goer. 

The wall sit has been a humbling exercise that works several different muscles, keeping them under tension and forcing them to work hard, get stronger and ultimately, grow. I'll be adding wall sits to my lower body sessions at least twice a week going forward. Watch this space — I will be able to hold a five-minute wall sit very soon! 

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Lucy Gornall

Lucy is a freelance health and fitness journalist as well as a pre and post-natal personal trainer. Although a sweaty gym session (skipping rope is a must) is her favorite way to ‘relax’, she’s also a fan of bingeing on The Office, snacking on chocolate-coated raisins, and fizz-filled brunches with friends. 

  • markmartel
    Misleading title. You didn’t do “5-minute” wall sits. You did one-and-a-half-minute wall sits, maximum. Encourage people to get up to two minutes. Very few people could ever do 5 minutes.