L-Sit Hold Progression for Beginners

The l-sit hold is a powerful core strengthening exercise that develops isometric strength, body awareness, and gymnastic skill necessary for more advanced movements like ring training and the l-sit pull-up.

In this l-sit progression beginner’s guide, we lay out the specific progressions you should take to develop upper body strength, core stability, and body awareness to master the l-sit hold.

L-Sit Hold Exercise Demo

Below is a video demonstration on how to perform the l-sit hold. Note, that the feet should be pointed away from the body, with the knees fully extended. Failure to lift the legs to hip level, or higher is referred to as the “low” l-sit (see below).

L-Sit Hold Progressions

The below progressions can be done from the floor, parallel bars or parallettes, or rings. It is recommended that you perform each movement from the floor first, then the bars/parallettes, and lastly the rings. This will ensure proper stability development to decrease injury

Support Hold

The support hold is the basis for the l-sit, and without it you will have difficulty creating proper core stability and back tension to safely support yourself. This movement is used to develop upper back and arm strength, specially scapular stabilization and elbow extension. Below are three variations of the support hold (floor, parallettes, and rings).

Leg Raise(s) on Floor

This movement is next in the progression, as it builds from the support hold (floor, parallettes, rings) by adding a leg raise to the hold. This can be done by having the individual assume a stable support position with the feet supported on the floor or low bench) and raising one leg into the air so that the foot is hip level or higher. This will help to develop abdominal and hip flexor strength and body awareness.

Tucked Support 

The tucked support can be performed from the floor or from a higher, off the floor position, such as rings or bars. Once the lifter has assumed a support hold, they will pull their knees to their chest and lift their hips and legs off the floor, supporting their entire bodyweight with the upper body. This will build core and upper body strength and necessary body awareness and control.

Alternating Leg Raise in Support Hold

Once you have successfully completed each of the movements above, you are ready to perform a unilateral leg raise from the tucked planche position. By doing this movement one leg at a time you allow the individual to focus all their strength and stability on one leg rather than having to lift both at the same time. You can perform single leg raises and holds while keeping the other leg pulled into the body, alternating and repeating for time or repetitions.

Low L-Sit Hold

Once you have become familiar with the single leg raise and hold while in the tucked planche poison, you can start to fully extend and raise both legs in front of you. At first, you may struggle to lift your feet higher than the hips. This is called a low l-sit, which over time can be progressed into the l-sit hold.

Helpful Accessory Movements

Below are three accessory movements that can be very helpful to add to your l-sit training regimen, as they can increase abdominal strength, scapular stability, and target muscles that may need additional attention.

Hanging Knee Raise

The hanging knee raise can be done by any level individual looking to perform the l-sit. It is responsible for increasing abdominal strength, awareness, and stamina yes decreases the amount of hip flexor and leg strength needed. This is useful with individuals starting out who may lack core endurance or strength, and/or those individuals who cannot yet perform the leg raise.

Toes to Bar

This toes to bar will increase hip flexor and abdominal strength and stamina, both needed when performing the l-sit hold. Additionally, this accessory lift can teach individual’s body awareness and control necessary for gymnastic movements like the l-sit.

Weighted Planks

The weighted plank can increase isometric strength of the core and upper body, both necessary for l-sits. The ability to contract the core and lock the elbows so that the back and core and work together to create tension will increase a lifter’s ability to support their own bodyweight under control for prolonged periods of time.  

Build a Better Gymnastic Base!

Take a look at these gymnastic-based exercises and articles to upgrade your fitness!

Featured Image: @fit_kamelek on Instagram

Editor’s Note: Megan Hirsh, Founder of BIA Box, had the following to add after reading the above article:

BarBend has done it again! They have written another amazing article to help out those of us who struggle with gymnastic movements and more specifically the L-sit Hold. These progressions are so important for building a strong core and of course for working on those pesky hip flexors!

I will definitely be incorporating these tips and tricks into my gym routine!

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.