Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sit Tight! Wall Squats:101

Have you ever wanted to find a quick and effective exercise to enhance your running?  Something that won't take but a few minutes a day, but will greatly strengthen your legs, glutes and core?  And will make you feel like a beast?

Answer: Wall squats!

What are wall squats?  Also called wall sits, these are simple squats where you lean against a wall and hold the position as long as possible.  You will feel the bulk of this in your legs (quads), but also in your glutes.  As you become stronger and are able to hold the pose longer, you will also start to feel it in your core.

We all know leg strength is crucial to running, but glute strength is a very strong second.  Having strong glute muscles will enhance the leg strength because both are connected......if both sets of muscles are strong and in working order, neither has to absorb an unfair amount of impact.  A lot of runners suffer from problems with their ankles, knees, IT Bands, and piriformis (a muscle deep within the buttocks), as well as a host of various other less painful issues.  A lot of these injuries can be avoided, or reduced, by having strong glutes.

So, how does one do a wall squat? How long do you need to hold the position?  How many reps?

The basic wall squat is done by standing against a wall and sliding down until your legs are in a 90-degree position, parallel to the floor.  You will want have shoes on (or be barefoot) because your feet will try to slide if the surface is slick.  Most people can probably hold this for 15-30 seconds, but try to hold it for as long as possible the first few times you do it to get a "base line."  Keep track of this base line, and every time you do the squat, write it down to chart your progress.  Try to squat for 10 seconds longer each time you do it.

A variation of this, is to squat against the wall and slide down until your legs are at a 45-degree angle.  This position will be easier to hold, so you will want to hold it for a longer time to get results.  You can also do intervals with this pose and the previous 90-degree pose...alternating between each pose.


A more difficult pose is the one-leg squat.  Trust me, this is much harder! It not only throws in the element of balancing on one leg but also adds the demand of holding your own body weight while on just one leg.  You will want to do intervals with this pose as well.  I would recommend starting with intervals of 5 seconds on each leg, and gradually increasing to 10 seconds, then 15 seconds, etc.  Try to keep the extended leg out as straight as possible, on the same plane as the flexed leg.


If you're up for an even greater challenge, try squatting with a balance ball.  This will tap into your core as you not only balance on your legs while squatting but also as you keep the ball in position.  Master the one-leg squat with the balance ball and you will be a B.E.A.S.T.


Every person will have their own threshold of skill with wall squats.  You can do these several times throughout the day (for shorter periods of time), or do one "long" squat once a day.  You can have your feet together, shoulder-width apart, or even wider.  You can mix these in with other strength training (such as lunges, squats or planks).  You will see results with these pretty quickly....probably within a week you'll be able increase your "squatting time" substantially.

So, let's get to work!  Sit tight, friends!