If you're ready to take the classic wall sit to the next level, try adding a resistance band around your thighs while opening and closing your legs. Also known as a banded wall sit with hip abduction, this variation targets more of the smaller muscles in your glutes, and with the right focus, it recruits your pelvic floor muscles.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is important for a variety of bodily functions, says Monica Saliu, DPT, cofounder and clinical director of Tribeca Physical Therapy. For example, your pelvic floor supports your internal organs and helps with bladder control, bowel movements and sexual function.
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When doing a wall sit with a resistance band, engaging your pelvic floor also ensures that your spine stays in a neutral position and remains stable, says Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, founder of Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy.
That's because when your pelvic floor is contracted, your transverse abdominis (deep core muscle) is also engaged. Your transverse abdominis creates stiffness throughout your core and stabilizes your trunk, which can help protect your low back.
Try adding 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps on each side of this move to your core workouts. This move can also make a great finisher to a leg day workout; try to do the move for 30 seconds to start, and increase the amount of time you do it in the next workout.
How to Do a Banded Wall Sit With Hip Abduction
- Loop a mini band around your thighs, a few inches above your knees. Stand with your back against a wall. Your feet should be about hip-width apart and flat on the floor with your toes facing forward, heels about a foot away from the wall.
- Keeping your torso upright, slide your back down the wall by bending your knees. Lower until your thighs are just above but not parallel to the floor. Keeping the angle of your knees greater than 90 degrees will allow you to contract your pelvic floor. Your knees should be parallel with each other, with the band providing a little bit of tension that's trying to pull them together.
- Contract your pelvic floor and tense your inner core muscles. Maintain this pelvic floor contraction throughout the set.
- Keeping your feet flat, slowly separate your knees away from each other, moving against the tension of the band.
- Slowly return your knees back to the starting position.
- Do 5 to 10 reps, separating your knees and bringing them back to the starting position.
- After finishing all of your reps, slide up the wall to stand back up.
To ensure you're contracting your pelvic floor, you should feel like your anus is gently closing, but your glutes aren't clenching or squeezing, Jeffcoat says.
“The proper pelvic floor contraction will start from the back, meaning around the anus, and move forward toward your penis or vagina,” Jeffcoat says. "It should be an isolated, local feeling that goes from the back to the front.”
4 Benefits of the Banded Wall Sit With Hip Abduction
1. It Can Train Your Pelvic Floor
Locking in your pelvic floor before abducting your hip (moving your leg away from the center of your body) will help keep your pelvis and spine aligned and stable during exercise and in everyday life, Jeffcoat says.
Without proper pelvic floor strength and function, your spine can start to sway and side bend during movements where your legs move away from your body, such as side lunges.
"If you're trying to isolate hip abduction, but you're also bending at your waist, then you're not getting the best workout for isolating your hip abductors," Jeffcoat says.
The wall sit with resistance band provides a great opportunity to tie hip abduction and pelvic floor function together by actively engaging your pelvic floor muscles before you begin each set of abductions.
Being able to stabilize your pelvic floor also helps with incontinence and other potential issues that occur during exercise. "You don't want to pee your pants while you're doing double-unders," Jeffcoat says.
2. It Strengthens Your Smaller Glute Muscles
When you think of training your glutes, most exercises emphasize strengthening your gluteus maximus, the largest muscle. But targeting your gluteus medius — the smaller glute muscle that wraps around the outside of your hips — as you do in a banded wall sit with hip abduction is just as important.
Weak gluteus medius muscles have been associated with low back pain, as seen in this October 2019 research review from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. And according to a February 2020 review in the Strength & Conditioning Journal, strengthening your gluteus medius can help reduce the risk of knee, hip and ankle injuries among runners.
The gluteus medius also plays an important part in daily activities, like walking or climbing stairs, by keeping your pelvis and hips level and stable.
3. It Activates Your Transverse Abdominis and Obliques
Wall sits are basically wall squats with an isometric hold. In a wall squat, you slide your back down against a wall until you're in the wall sit position, hold for a few seconds, then press back up.
Wall squats have been shown to significantly strengthen the transverse abdominis (TVA) and obliques, according to a June 2013 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
These deep core muscles stabilize your spine to keep it upright. Without them, your back could sway to the sides, Jeffcoat says. So when you're keeping your spine stiff during this exercise as you lower down into a squat, your TVA and obliques are working. And by engaging your pelvic floor muscles, you train these deep core muscles even more.
4. It Gets Your Heart Rate Up
Because you're sitting still, you might not think of wall sits as a cardio exercise. But in a July 2013 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences, when people held isometric wall sits for bouts of two minutes, their heart rate soared to 139 beats per minute — as high as it might get on a light jog.
Adding a resistance band to this move makes it even more taxing and can help drive your heart rate even higher. So you could incorporate the resistance band wall sit into a heart-pumping circuit of other moves and get your cardio fix, too.
- BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders: "Gluteus Medius Muscle Function in People With and Without Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review"
- Strength & Conditioning Journal: "Exploring the Role of the Lateral Gluteal Muscles in Running: Implications for Training"
- Journal of Physical Therapy Science: "The Effects of Modified Wall Squat Exercises on Average Adults’ Deep Abdominal Muscle Thickness and Lumbar Stability"
- Journal of Sports Sciences: "The Effects of Isometric Wall Squat Exercise on Heart Rate and Blood Pressure in a Normotensive Population"