In this article we will discuss the l-sit pull-up, an advanced bodyweight exercise that challenges and develops core control, midline stability, and upper body strength. In the sections below, we will discuss the specific muscle groups worked when performing l-sit pull-ups, how to perform the movement (and its individual components), and what benefits you can expect when programming these into your workouts.
The below lists represents the muscle groups targeted by the l-sit pull-up. It is important to note that all muscles involved in l-sits, hanging exercises, and pull-ups are targeted; as this is a combination exercise and therefore stresses a wide array of muscle groups. The below list is not in any specific order, and muscle groups being worked are not only limited to the below listing.
- Hip Flexors
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Rhomboids and Scapular Stabilizers
L-Sit Pull-Up Exercise Demo
Before we go over the full blown l-sit pull-up, we must first break down this complex bodyweight movement into its individual parts to ensure proper progressions have been made to maximize one’s abdominal and hip flexor strength and control. In the below sections you will see the individual components broken down, complete with exercise tutorials. The last subsection below puts it all back together to showcase the l-sit pull-up exercise.
Here’s how to do a hanging l-sit…
The hanging l-sit is done exactly like any other l-sit variation, however the individual is performing it from a hanging position. The hanging position does not allow for any countermovements or counterbalancing, making it much more demanding on core strength, overhead/shoulder mobility and control.
Here’s how to do a pull-up…
In the below video the strict pull-up is demonstrated, without having the legs pulled into the l-sit position. Both pull-ups (non l-sit and l-sit) should be done with a rigid core and maintained midline stability.
Now, let’s put it all together…
Now that you have mastered both the hanging l-sit and the strict pull-up, it is time to combine the movements into the l-sit pull-up. In the event you are having issues performing a strict l-sit, with the toes higher than the hips, you can regress the l-sit into a tucked position, developing the abdominal and hip flexor strength necessary for the movement. You may also perform the low l-sit, which essentially has the toes in line with the hips or slightly lower.
Benefits of the L-Sit Pull-Up
The l-sit pull-up is a complex bodyweight movement that offers individuals all the benefits of the l-sit combined with the benefits of the pull-up. Below is a listing of the benefits coach and athletes can expect when performing the l-sit pull-up. Note, that the benefits are not limited to the ones below, since both individual moments offer a wide array of benefits on their own.
Core Stability and Midline Control
Similar to hanging knee raises, planks, and other core stability movements, the l-sit pull-up enforces proper spinal integrity and stabilization throughout the entire range of motion. This means that the abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, and transverse abdominals are all active in promoting stability and structural strength during this movement.
Time Under Tension Training
Time under tension is another variable that can be used to increase angular strength, isometric contraction abilities (holds), and muscle hypertrophy. The l-sit pull-up requires great amounts of isometric strength and coordination of the core muscles, while also keeping the lifter in high amounts of muscle contractions throughout the entire range of motion. By doing so, you can increase neuromuscular firing, movement coordination, and even increase muscle hypertrophy of the back and core muscles.
Scapular Control and Stabilization
Like most hanging movements, the scapular stabilizers are responsible for keeping overhead integrity while in this position so that the back muscles can contract properly, allowing the scapulae to slide freely across the back of the rib cage. By doing so, the shoulders are protected from unwanted stress, and the muscles are able to contract and lengthen without impedance.
All the Benefits of Strict Pull Ups
The l-sit pull-up is a variation of the strict pull-up, however it requires more body control and movement integrity due to the fact the lifter cannot overly extend their lumbar spine or change the pulling angles too much. Increased back strength, grip, and core stability are just a few of the immediate benefits of this movement. Here are some more benefits of pull-ups and their immediate regressions.
This movement has a direct application with gymnastic movements and strength exercises performed on bars, rings, and parallettes (to name a few). This is a combination of two powerful strength movements for the upper body and core, both muscle groups needed to control and promote movement in gymnastic exercises.
Ab Exercises to Improve Core Strength
The below exercises guides and articles are geared for coaches and athletes looking to increase core stability, midline control, and abdominal development.
- Why Every Athlete (of all levels) Should Do Hanging Knee Raises
- 10 Plank Variations to Step Up Your Core Training
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