I did weighted wall sits every day for a week — here’s what happened to my legs

How to do a wall sit
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want to make your legs work hard, try adding a weight to your wall sits. This isn’t my first wall sit challenge — I’ve tried a week of unweighted wall sits, as well as a single-leg wall sit, and I approached this one with trepidation, knowing it was going to be painful.

That said, I’m always keen for a challenge, and wall sits are one of the best moves I’ve found for building leg muscle. The wall sit is an excellent example of the benefits of time under tension — that is holding a muscle under resistance for a period of time to really force the muscle to work hard and grow. 

Read on to find out what happened when I added weighted wall sits to my workout routine for a week. The weight I used did vary, although typically I opted for a 15kg to 20kg plate as this was a manageable weight for me, however when it comes to selecting the right weight for your workouts, remember that it should be challenging, but not impossible by the final few reps.

How to do a weighted wall sit 

For a weighted wall sit, have your weight to hand before you start. I used weighted plates for my challenge however you can also use one of the best adjustable dumbbells or one of the best kettlebells. 

  • Stand against a wall, facing away from the wall, and step your feet forward slightly.
  • Lower yourself down the wall, bending your knees, until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Shuffle your feet so that your knees form a right angle.
  • Your back should be pressed against the wall and your feet should be firmly flat on the floor.
  • From here, grab your weight, place it gently onto your thighs, and then hold.
  • Keep movement to a minimum as muscles stay engaged, holding you up. I recommend keeping your gaze ahead of you too.

Of course, to make this exercise harder, simply add more weight. You could even do a one-legged weighted wall sit, where the weight is placed on one leg and the other leg is stretched out in front of you, but this is for the really advanced wall sitters. For an easier weighted wall sit, lower the weight a little.

I did weighted wall sits every day for a week — here’s what happened 

I couldn't hold them for long

Bodyweight wall sits aren’t too much of a struggle and I’ve managed to hold several five-minute wall sits in the past — albeit with a few breaks, but a weighted wall sit definitely took more out of me and I didn’t even try for five minutes during this week. Typically I could hold about 90 seconds with a 15kg weight before I had to throw the weight on the floor and shake out my quivering legs. 

However, practice makes perfect and if you want muscles to grow then they need to be challenged. I am sure that if I were to continue this challenge over a longer period of time then I would be able to hold for longer. 

The burn intensified when I added these to a leg day workout

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that weighted wall sits will be noticeably harder when incorporated into a lower body workout. After all, your muscles are already burning from other exercises — in my case, the leg press, which was the exercise I decided to pair with my wall sit. I did the two exercises back to back in a superset, so there was minimal rest between them. When I say my quads burned, they really burned. 

I held the weighted wall sit for 60 seconds after doing 12 reps of the leg press and it was a painful, jaw-clenching 60 seconds at that. 

My lower body worked hard

As mentioned, the weighted wall sit is a great exercise for working the lower body.  As I held my wall sit through gritted teeth, it was my quads taking the brunt of the pain. Other muscles that started to ignite were my hamstrings and glutes, especially as I tried to focus my mind on these muscles to distract from my agonizing quads. The mind-muscle connection really is a thing — simply focusing your mind on a muscle working, can really help to detract from pain in other areas. 

It’s easy to cheat

I always say you’re only cheating yourself if you do an exercise poorly, or with incorrect form. That said, find me someone who has never tried to make things a little easier for themselves and I will give them a medal. With the weighted wall sit, if you lift your hips a little higher up the wall so that your legs are at less of a right angle, the move becomes noticeably easier. I did find myself sometimes sliding up the wall to help take away some of the quad pain, but quickly dropped back down the second I felt that respite. 

It’s a mind game

Often, our mind is what makes or breaks our workout — your body might be telling you to quit, but if your mind can battle through, then your body just has to play ball. The last few excruciating seconds of a weighted wall sit, much like many tough exercises, are really quite a mental battle.

Sometimes, when my legs were in particular bouts of pain, I would find that I would start humming to myself to distract myself from the quad burn. Whatever gets you through really.

I did a week of weighted wall sits: here’s my verdict 

Should you try adding weighted wall sits to your workout? 100% yes.  This exercise has been a staple move in my workout regime for many, many years, however, I don’t tend to ever do it on consecutive days. That said, there’s a first time for everything and this week of weighted wall sits has certainly taught me that my legs loved the challenge — yes, it hurt and yes my quads have been in pain, but what doesn’t challenge you won’t change you. 

This exercise is simply brilliant for building lower body muscle and also for testing your mental endurance as you sit against a wall, as still as possible, holding yourself and a weighted plate upright. Give it a go. 

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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.