Why Weighted Wall Sit Challenges are the Dumbest Thing on Social Media

Every reason why you should never try this foolish exercise.

For ages, people have been doing Wall Sit Challenges for time. It doesn't have a huge training effect, but it's a great test of mental toughness because your legs brutally burn as you approach failure.

Lately, we've seen the exercise taken to a new level on social media. And it's downright dangerous.

Rather than holding a Wall Sit for time, people are getting creative to make themselves look badass on Instagram. The worst was a recent video of a guy holding a Wall Sit with 1,420 pounds of plates on his lap.

I suppose it's impressive that he can support that much weight, but it's one of the dumbest things I've personally ever seen. A few questions immediately come to mind:

  • What's the purpose? Other than to look cool, I can't find one. There are many, many more effective exercises for building lower-body strength.
  • What happens if the weight stack falls? The stack of plates is gigantic, and it's easy to see how it could wobble and collapse. That would be bad news for the person performing the Wall Sit and for his buddies stacking the weights.
  • What happens if he can't hold it any longer? I can imagine this burns like hell, and at a certain point he's bound to fail. In a traditional Wall Sit, you can just plop on the ground or stand up. In this case, his buddies would need to quickly take the weight off or he would risk being crushed by more than a half-ton of plates.

I'm certainly not alone in these thoughts. Here are a few comments from highly respected strength coaches regarding this video:

"I don't think it's a feat of strength. I think it's a circus move. The risk-to-benefit ratio is extremely lopsided. There's no athletic benefit or strength gain benefit whatsoever. All he's doing is showing off with a foolish move." —Rick Scarpulla, strength coach and owner of Ultimate Advantage Training Center.

"The setup of movements and exercises is usually the cause of injury, and to think getting out from under 20 plates safely is doable in a repeated measure is just silly. In regards to the actual effectiveness of max-loaded Wall-Sits, it's important to remember that isometric contractions aren't necessarily enhanced through more external loading. Many times, isometric-based positions like the Wall Sit that do not incorporate a dynamic movement component are considered internally tension-based, meaning that the training effect is dependent on the effort of the contraction rather than the load placed on the body." —Dr. John Rusin, physical therapist, strength coach and owner of John Rusin Fitness Systems.

"I don't see how this provides any necessary adaptation nor how it carries over into life. Sure, you'll become really good at doing Wall Sits, but other than that I just simply don't see the benefit. In the decade I've spent in this field, I have never programmed this exercise." —Matt Ibrahim, strength coach and owner of Movement Resilience.

"The weighted Wall Sit challenge is one of the more ridiculous social media fitness trends I've come across the past several years. The exercise—regardless of how heavy you are able to go—is relatively useless, unproductive and potentially dangerous. In fact, most of these individuals are leaning onto the front of their feet with their heels in front of their knees and very little pressure on their heels. Even a relatively unfit individual could hold a significant load in this position as it's more like a Wall Rest. It looks like a Wall Sit but couldn't be more different." —Dr. Joel Seedman, strength coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Advanced Human Performance.

The risk simply isn't worth the minimal benefit you receive from this exercise, especially when you could be spending time doing exercises that actually work, such as Squats and Deadlifts.

But "Johnny I Can Wall Sit a Ton of Weight" (above) isn't the only one posting ridiculous Wall Sit videos. Here's another example:

And another:

Unfortunately, this video has over 34,000 likes, which means that thousands of people who don't know any better might try to emulate this dangerous move.

So stop. Just stop.

If you want to test your mental fortitude, do a Wall Sit for time. At most, have one plate on your lap, or try it with a single leg if you want to increase the difficulty. Better yet, focus on getting stronger with lifts that actually matter.

Rant over.

Serenity Now

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock