Wall sits do not look the most impressive but they do work a few muscles. Find out which ones and whether this is enough to see results.
The main muscles wall sits work are the four quadricep muscles in your front thighs.
Besides these, wall sits will also work your glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back thighs) to some extent.
If you do wall sits with enough resistance and for long enough, you can actually grow and strengthen your quadricep muscles with this exercise.
That being said, it is important to note that isometric (static) exercises like wall sits are generally less effective than more dynamic exercises like squats for muscle growth and strength progress.
If you enjoy these dynamic alternatives just as much, they are likely a better choice than wall sits.
Main muscles worked with wall sits
Similar to many other movements, there are a few different muscles involved in wall sits. Even so, only some of these will be the most responsible for staying in this position.
The main muscles worked with wall sits are the four quadricep muscles in your front thighs. These will likely be the first ones to fatigue.
You can also say that wall sits engage your glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back thighs) to some extent. However, you should not expect too many, if any, results in these areas.
Contrary to what some people think, wall sits do not really work out core muscles like your abs.
Do wall sits build muscle?
It is worth quickly noting that wall sits can potentially help you build muscle but that there are a few conditions you need to fulfill to make this happen.
More specifically, you still need to do wall sits with enough resistance and for long enough.
Since wall sits are an isometric (static) exercise, the ranges regarding these are a bit different than usual.
One review of isometrics-related studies concludes that you want to do wall sits of about 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout at 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction to build muscle (1).
It is somewhat normal that you don’t know what maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) means. This is a way of measuring resistance in isometric exercises.
Unfortunately, you need specific devices to measure MVC.
It is likely not the perfect conversion but you can do wall sits with a resistance where you are barely able to complete the durations above to get a good chance of actually building the quadricep muscles you work.
One important thing to note is that isometric (static) exercises like wall sits are typically not as effective as more dynamic exercises like squats for building muscle.
The main benefit of isometric exercises is that people who find moving their joints uncomfortable may prefer them.
Is a 2-minute wall sit good?
From the conclusions of the isometric exercise study review, you can say that a 2-minute wall sit is not good for building muscle.
If you are able to hold the stance for this long, it is likely not challenging enough to cause muscle growth. At least not in an effective way.
On the flip side, building muscle is not the only fitness goal out there. A 2-minute wall sit can still be good for improving muscle endurance for many people.
Ways to make wall sits harder
Even if they are initially able to see results, many people will have to make bodyweight wall sits harder to be able to grow the muscles they work over time.
When this is the case, you can consider making wall sits more challenging in a few different ways.
A simple no-equipment way to do this is doing a one-legged wall-sit.
Because all your weight rests on one leg instead of two, the stance will be a lot harder. One downside is that your workouts will likely take longer to complete.
Another option is doing weighted wall sits where you hold or wear some form of resistance.
Some equipment examples that can help you with this include dumbbells, kettlebells, a sandbag, a weighted vest, and even resistance bands.
Make sure you add the downward resistance as close to your upper body as possible.
You can also use certain pieces of thigh workout equipment to make wall sits more challenging in a different way.
More specifically, you can loop a resistance band around your upper legs so that you have to push outward with your thighs to keep them in a straight line forward.
This will work your hip abductors aka your outer thigh muscles more.
You can also squeeze something like a medicine ball between your thighs. This will train your hip adductors aka your inner thigh muscles more.
Muscles worked wall sits vs squats
Bodyweight squats are a popular at-home-friendly alternative to wall sits. You may wonder how these compare in terms of the muscles they work and how effective they are.
As mentioned, wall sits are an exercise that mostly works your quadriceps (front thigh muscles).
On the other hand, squats also mainly work your quadriceps. However, they also work your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and erector spinae (lower back) to a larger extent than wall sits.
Another important thing to note is that the dynamic movements of squats are typically more effective than the isometric wall sit stance for growing and strengthening the quadricep muscles.
At the same time, people who find moving their joints uncomfortable may find the isometric aspect one of the benefits of wall sits.
How effective are wall sits?
Wall sits are typically not that effective for growing and strengthening muscles. Especially if you do the bodyweight version. That being said, wall sits can still help you improve endurance in your quadriceps aka front thigh muscles.
How long should you do a wall sit for results?
You should do a wall sit for about 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout with resistance that is challenging enough for muscle growth results.