After barbell squats, walking and jumping lunges, dead lifts, kettle ball swings, and balance ball hamstring curls, I know it’s not over yet. I slide down the wall’s surface until I am seated sans seat, legs bent at 90 degrees. I press my back firmly into the wall, filling every margin of space, trying desperately to add friction. After just a short while, my quadriceps ignite and my hands start moving about like Will Farrell’s in Anchorman—“I don’t know what to do with my hands!” I pause there, mind racing, legs trembling, quivering on the edge of “I can” and “I can’t.”
It’s a wall sit, one of many simple, static exercises that people often despise. Although chubby, pubescent me used to be one of these people who wanted to quit when coaches ordered these after tennis practice and a round of sprints, I now consider wall sits a staple in my lower body workout.
When I was recently a personal trainer for a year and a half, my clients’ biggest obstacle was not a physical “trouble zone” or “problem area,” but rather, mental strength. It was pushing through discomfort, self-doubt, and impatience to come out stronger on the other side. Unlike dynamic exercises, wall sits, planks, and the like give you the unique opportunity to remain still with your own thoughts and without the distraction of movement or the number of reps left. Time moves slowly here. Much like holding breath under water, our own minds tend to defeat us before our bodies reach their limit.
I regularly do wall sits and encourage you to as well because they are a simple, effective way to practice perseverance and enhance mental strength. Static exercises as a finale to your normal strength routine can help you to find and push your physical and mental threshold.
When I’m down the final twenty seconds and seriously considering sliding down into a puddle on the floor, I draw strength from outside of myself. I think, “This is for you, God.” I focus on the power that He is giving me though I am weak, on gratitude for my body that adapts and carries me farther than I think I can go. And with that, it’s done. I don’t make it every time, but I’m definitely improving my ability to just hold on.
Your thoughts are your biggest obstacle in persevering through a wall sit or any trial you face. Practice being on your own side in times of doubt and discomfort; you’ll be amazed by how much you are capable of when “I can” becomes your mental default.
Do you find that you can practice perseverance and strengthen your mind through exercise? Would love to hear about your progress!