Wall Squat

(sometimes referred to as air bench or roman chair)

The wall squat is a great isometric exercise to strengthen the leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal and adductors).  When performing the wall squat, the contracting muscles produce little or no movement. Strong quadriceps will assist when rising from a seated position or walking.  Hockey, skiing, and sailing are examples of sports that would benefit from the wall squat.

The quadriceps are located in the front of your thigh. Quadriceps consist of four muscles that work together to straighten your knee, and one of the muscles helps you to move your thigh and torso closer together. The hamstrings are located on the opposite side of the quadriceps, consisting of three muscles that work together to bend the knee and extend the hip.  

Instructions for the movement:

  • Stand straight against a wall or door that will allow you to slide. Place your feet hip width apart and approximately two feet away from the baseboard.  
  • Inhale, pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine. Knees will be soft and head will be against the wall with your gaze straight ahead. Visualize an apple under your chin for proper alignment.
  • As you exhale, bend your knees, allowing yourself to bring the legs parallel to the floor (as though you are sitting in a chair).  Knees should be in alignment with ankles and also in position with the second and third toe.  Any knee discomfort should be avoided.  If you have knee discomfort, don’t lower as far down, hold the position for a shorter period of time or adjust the distance of the feet from the wall.  If this does not dismiss the knee discomfort, take this exercise out of your routine.
  • Hold the position for 5-10 seconds to begin. Focus on breathing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Eventually you may find that you can hold this position for 1-2 minutes.
  • Move yourself back to your starting position, by sliding back up the wall or door. You should feel the glute muscles engaged as you lift.  Do not hold this position longer than you are able to lift back up.  You want to prevent lowering to the floor to exit the position.

For a variation and to activate the adductors (inner thighs), place a medium size ball between the thighs and pulse while holding the wall squat.  This will help to engage and strengthen the adductors, which are used to bring the leg midline of the body. For example, getting into and out of a car, horseback riding, and soccer also use the adductor muscles group.