L-Sit Pull-Up Progression – The Complete Exercise Guide

In this article we will detail the specific progressions one should take to master not only the l-sit pull-up, but also the l-sit and the strict-pull up on either the bar, rings, and/or parallettes.

The L-Sit Pull-Up

The l-sit pull-up is a bodyweight movement that involves a lifter first obtaining a proper l-sit positioning, when performing a strict pull-up while remaining in a l-sit position. This exercise is a very challenging movement, requiring core strength, flexibility, upper body strength, and shoulder/scapular mobility to be able to properly pull oneself up to the bar/rings.

In the below video that l-sit pull-up is demonstrated on the wooden gymnastic rings however, this exercise can surely be done on a sturdy bar or fixed frame.

L-Sit Progressions

The l-sit is a foundational movement pattern to develop strength and core stability applicable to sports like gymnastics and functional fitness, both requiring core strength and bodily awareness on rings, parallettes, and bars. This movement can be done first on the ground and using one’s body weight. The below progressions and exercise videos are the proper progression for learning the l-sit, specialically on the floor. Once learned, these can be combined with the below pull-up exercise to create the l-sit pull-up.

Support Hold on Floor

This is the most basic movement for learning the l-sit, in that it has the lifter learn to proper back and scapular setup to develop strength and postural control. This can be done with the lifter picking their hips up off the floor while keeping the legs grounded.

Support Hold + Leg Lifts on Floor

This is done with the legs out front, seated on the floor. Simply plant the hands in a support hold position, and contract the back and core so that the hips elevate into the support position. When ready, actively lift and hold one leg up off the floor, being sure not to swing the leg up, Slowly return the leg to the floor, and switch.

Tucked Planche (on parallettes or rings)

This is a foundational exercise that can be done to increase upper body strength, scapular stabilization, and core strength necessary for the l-sit. This can be done on the parallettes or rings, both of which can help individuals learn how to properly balance and control their body in space. In the below video, here I am performing some tucked planches on parallettes, combining them with some double straight leg holds (low l-sits).

Tucked Planche + Alternating Straight Leg

In this exercise the lifter performed the tucked planche from above, and slowly extends on of their legs straight out in front of them, making sure to point the toe and keep the abdominals tight. Once extended, the individual can hold briefly, and draw the leg back into the body, alternating back and forth between legs.

Low L-Sit (rings, parallettes, or bar)

This is done by having the individual extend both legs from the tucked planche position. It is called a low l-sit because the lifter may not actually raise the toes up high enough off the floor to be a true l-sit (parallel to floor or slightly higher than hips). Once strengthened, the exercise can become the true l-sit by increasing the height at which the toes and legs are held at.

Strict Pull-Up Progressions

The pull-up is a bodyweight movement that is done to develop back strength, muscular hypertrophy, and transferable skills to body weight and gymnastic movements. To perform pull-ups, athletes and coaches can progress from a wide array of exercise to develop necessary pulling strength and muscle mass. Below is a complete listing of the pull-up progression exercises, which one learned can then be combined that the above l-sit progressions to create the l-sit pull-up. Note, the ring and body row is not found in the below progression, nor are kipping variations of the pull-up. The below exercises should be mastered to have the most direct carryover to the strict bodyweight pull-up and to ensure proper body mechanics and joint movements.

Band Assisted Pull-Up

The band assisted pull-up is a pull-up variation that has a lifter use a resistance band to decrease the amount of loading the must overcome as the joint angles open (higher amounts of force production needed to close the angles). The band assisted pull-up is a great alternative to endless ring rows as it mimics the exact angles and boiled control needed to perform strict pull-ups and l-sit pull-ups.

Isometric Holds (at top of pull-up)

This is simply done by having a lifter perform a hold (isometric contraction) at the top of the pull-up, which has been shown to increase muscular strength and hypertrophy. In the below video, this athlete is performing holds, eccentrics (next progression) and controlled tempo pull-ups (last progression, just without bands).

Eccentric Pull-Ups

The eccentric pull-up is where an individual controls the lowing motion of the pull-up, being sure to stay in control of the movement. By controlling the lowering aspect of the movement, the individual can gain strength and develop muscle hypertrophy even without being able to perform the “up” or concentric aspect of the pull-up.

Banded Tempo Pull-Ups

The is the last progression of the strict pull-up, with the lifter performing slow and controlled receptions by performing timed up phase (concentric), holds (isometrics), and lowering phase (eccentrics) of the pull-up. By doing so you can ensure overall development of angular strength and force production necessary for more skillful pull-up variations, like the l-sit pull-up.

More Gymnastic and Bodyweight Movements!

Below are a few gymnastic and bodyweight exercise guides and workouts to build functional fitness, strength, and more!

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

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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.