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
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.
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.
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.
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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!