The Muscles That Are Used During Wall Sits

If you want to strengthen your thighs, you can target several muscle groups simultaneously with wall sits. In this exercise, you lean your back against a wall, leaving about 2 feet between your feet and the wall. You slide your body down the wall, as if you are trying to sit on an imaginary chair. By holding this seated position, you strengthen two major muscle groups in the thigh.


Wall sits work the quadriceps located on the front of your thighs. The four quadriceps muscles work together to straighten your knee, and one of the four -- the rectus femoris -- helps you move your thigh and torso closer together. Strength in the quadriceps is necessary for such day-to-day activities as walking and rising from a seated position.


The hamstrings, located on the back of your thighs, work opposite the quadriceps. These three muscles bend the knee and extend the hip joint. Strengthening the hamstrings with exercises like wall sits has practical applications because these muscles are necessary for basic movements such as walking.


A slight variation to the traditional wall sit exercise allows you to target an additional muscle group: the adductors, which are located in your inner thigh. To strengthen these muscles, place a medium-sized ball between your knees and squeeze it while you hold the wall sit position. As you squeeze the ball, you engage and strengthen your adductors. These inner-thigh muscles bring the thigh toward the midline of the body when they contract. Every time you get in or out of a car, your adductors help move your legs. They are also important in soccer, basketball, swimming the breaststroke and horseback riding.

Tips and Tricks

The wall sit is an example of an isometric exercise. In this type of exercise, the contracting muscles produce little or no movement. One drawback of isometric exercises is that they only strengthen the muscles in the angle in which you hold the position. You can overcome this drawback by repeating the exercise at different angles. For example, drop only a couple of inches down the wall the first time you do the wall sit. When you repeat it, lower yourself a couple inches more. Breathe regularly while you hold the wall sit. To protect your knees, keep them pointing straight in front of you and don’t let them pass in front of your toes.