Bodyweight Wall Squats for Back Fitness

Wall Squat
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A wall squat is a body weight exercise that may help you develop your low back fitness.  Doing 10 of them will likely challenge your quadriceps muscles in a big way.

In case you don't know where your quadriceps are, these are the big muscles located at the front of the thigh.  The quads (as they are often called for short) are considered to be "2-joint muscles" which means on the top, they cross over the hip joint and on the bottom, they cross over the knee, thus propelling movement at two different joints.

Bodyweight Wall Squats for Back Fitness

In this version of the wall squat, we'll focus on developing strength in the belly (i.e., the center) of the muscle.  If your knee or back hurt upon trying this, then either decrease the depth of the squat or don't do the exercise at all.  No sense in making the pain worse.

In fact, if you have a back or knee injury, a condition or pain, ask your doctor or physical therapist if this exercise is appropriate for you. 

This beginner's wall squat version is recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association, and along with quads, targets the muscles of the seat, back and abdomen, as well as the other thigh muscles.

Wall Squat Instructions

  1. Stand up straight against a wall, with your feet placed about 2' away from the baseboard. If you have knee pain or a knee injury, adjust your feet out to the side, so that when you bend and straighten, you're taking it in the thigh muscles, and your knees feel no pain. You should not feel pain or discomfort in your knees at any time during this exercise.
  1. Inhale, then exhale and allow your abdomen to fall toward your back. Keep your gaze straight in front of you, your knees slightly bent and  your chin slightly tucked. Try to keep the back of your head touching the wall (without trying too hard, that is.)
  2. As you exhale, bend your knees and slide your part way back down the wall. Ideally, you will come to a level that is almost as low as sitting. But let the presence of any pain guide you as to how far down you go. If need be, adjust the distance between the wall and your feet to accommodate good knee alignment and the level of challenge to your muscles. (In other words, it's okay to take them more than 2' away from the wall, if it will help you accomplish the movement safely.) Also, check to see that your knees do not come any more forward than your ankles. Try to line them up with the area between the big toe and the 2nd toe. This may protect them from injury.
  1. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, breathe smoothly evenly as you do. If this position feels challenging to your muscles, pay attention to your breath -- that should help you get through your 5-10 seconds. Eventually, you can work up to holding the position for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Move slowly back to the start position. The workout for your seat muscles should intensify on the way back up.
  3. Repeat up to 10 times.

While body weight wall squats can be a great exercise for positively affecting your back, the best strategy is one that includes a number of exercises. That way, you can address all the muscles that affect your low back, and include both stretching and strengthening work. Here is a list of related movements and exercises you might consider:


Moffat, Marilyn, P.T. Ph.D. and Vickery, Steve. The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair. Owl Books. Henry Holt and Company, LLC. New York, New York, 1999. Stretch and Reach p.216.