One of the best exercises you can do for your legs and core is completely free, requires no equipment, and can be done while watching TV at home. Plus, there's no movement, extra load, or impact on your joints, making it perfect for beginners, seniors, and people with joint problems that prevent them from doing other forms of exercise.
The wall sit is a fantastic calisthenics exercise, and one that is greatly underrated in my book. I used it a lot during COVID when all the gyms were closed and I was bored doing bodyweight squats. This is an isometric exercise, meaning it relies on holding a static position to induce tension in your muscles, similar to how you might hold a plank position to train your core.
In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine (opens in a new tab), isometric exercises like this were found to be beneficial for improving muscle strength in people with reduced mobility, perhaps even more so than "dynamic" strength training .
Because his knees and hips don't move at all, there's no need to add extra weight to his back, and his feet don't hit the ground like running or jumping exercises would, he's incredibly forgiving. It's still a tough workout, though, and while he may not be racking up steps on your best fitness tracker, you'll likely still be able to see his heart rate pick up after a few sets.
To get started, simply lean your back against a wall and slide down. Your feet should be in front of you, shoulder-width apart, and your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders touching the wall and look straight ahead. The television is a great focal point and a welcome distraction.
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Now here comes the hard part: you have to hold the position for a while. If you've never tried this before or are new to strength training, 15-30 seconds may be an achievable goal for you. Once you're in this position, it's pretty tedious to fiddle with your phone and set the timer. So I simply used the Amazon Echo Dot in my living room to ask Alexa to set a timer for one minute. Then you simply hold the position for the required amount of time.
Easier said than done. Very quickly, your quads, glutes, and hamstrings will light up. For added benefit, be sure to look straight ahead, place your hands behind your head or stretch them out in front of you, tuck your stomach in slightly, and contract your abdominal muscles.
I'm not going to lie to you, it sucks. Every time I hear Alexa's soothing tones say, "Okay, one minute, from now," I find myself gritting my teeth in anticipation of the tough times ahead. The soft sound of the alarm at the end of that minute was a lifesaver, but it felt like it had taken forever to get there. It had gotten to the point where I was beginning to dislike Alexa's voice, because she associated it with those rough walls.
However, it's still much more efficient than setting a timer yourself, and if you can use a voice assistant with your phone and the best headphones for outdoor exercise, it's more efficient to set timers this way to keep your focus. fit. Amazon Prime Day sales are worth keeping an eye on if you want to easily keep tabs on your isometric workouts.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Once back in the gym, I found that I hadn't lost much strength in my legs and glutes, even after my long absence from the squat rack. All those walls actually increased my running: Research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that stronger glutes and quads are a factor in top running speed.
Coincidence or not, I ran my personal best half marathon after training this unconventional and underrated method at home.
If you think you really should work out while watching Netflix at home, try three 30-second sets on the wall to get started. Don't blame me if you start to resent your best smart speaker later.