L-Sit Exercise Guide

In this ultimate l-sit guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the l-sit. This article will discuss the muscle worked, benefits, proper l-sit progressions (for beginners, as well as most levels), and offer some advanced l-sit exercises to include into your training.


Muscle Worked

The l-sit is a foundational bodyweigt movement that challenges the isometric strengths and control of a wide array of muscle groups throughout the body. The below muscle groups are targeted with this exercise, however keep in mind that this exercise challenges the entire body isometrically, and therefore has a wider impact on the muscle groups worked.

  • Rectus Abdominals
  • Obliques
  • Hip Flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Triceps
  • Scapular Stabilizers
  • Forearms
  • Pectorals
  • Anterior Delts
  • Latissimus Dorsi

L-Sit Exercise Demo

Below is a video demonstration on how to perform the l-sit using gymnastic rings. Note, this exercise can be performed on the floor, from rings, parallel bars/parallettes, or any other stable structure.

3 Benefits of the L-Sit

Below are three benefits of the l-sit that coaches and athletes can expect when performing this exercise, or any of the below exercise progressions in the following sections.

Midline Stability

The l-sit challenges and develops an individual’s ability to create midline tension and stability. This can be done using the floor, rings, bars, parallettes, or any other stable surface as supports. The benefits to creating midline stability and control is that the individual can better stabilize the spine and support movement and resist unwanted forces that can impair body control, balance, and stability.

Isometric Strength

Isometric muscle action is when the muscle, while not lengthening or contracting (shortening), is still producing force. The l-sit is an isometric exercise that targets the above muscle groups, which is beneficial for movements that require core stabilization and strength under load (squats, deadlifts, presses), and/or movement patterns that are more advanced (such as gymnastics) that require finite body control and stability. Additionally, increasing isometric strength can enhance strength and force production at various ranges of motion, which can be helpful for individuals with sticking points and position weaknesses in certain movements.

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I actually held this L-sit for like, 2 days, 17 hours, and 77 seconds straight, it was pretty impressive…. 😩 ___________ The L-sit is a nasty little exercise that targets those stubborn muscles in the lower abdomen. It also is an important isometric exercise for anyone looking to become better at gymnastics, bodyweight training, and movement like muscle ups, ring dips, etc. ___________ Can set these up on anything stable, and do them for times sets, trying to accumulate a couple minutes at first. I actually did these in an #EMOM format with handstand holds and hanging knee raises (see my “free workouts” section in archived story on my profile). I did 5 rounds of 20 seconds… so like total of 1:40min. Nothing crazy, but work nonetheless. ___________ Be sure to lock the elbows and create distance between the shoulders and the ears via a strong middle and upper back, which is done by creating scapular control and tension! ___________ #lsit #bodyweighttraining #kettlebells #coreworkout #functionaltraining #functionalfitness #strengthandconditioning #calesthenics #gymnastics #barstarzz #reebok #personaltraining #crossfit #crossfitter #mobility #move #fitness #barbend #roguefitness #strongman #weightlifting #weight #abs #absworkout #olympicweightlifting

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Gymnastics Progression

The l-sit is a necessary exercise that should be mastered by any fitness or gymnastic athlete looking to enhance their abilities in exercise like muscle ups, ring work, bar skills (gymnastics), handstands, and other bodyweight movements. The core strength, stability, and isometric capacities of the above muscle groups can all translate to better movement across a wide domain of body weight and gymnasti based movements.

L-Sit Progressions for Beginners

In an earlier article we discussed the complete l-sit progression guide for beginners, offering exercises (in order of important) that coaches and athletes can use to educate and develop proper holding positions an isometric strengths necessary for the l-sit.

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Last set of 20 second l-sit hold. Been really working on these. Failed to hit 20 seconds, since the last second I collapsed, but look at the save! My quads were locking up like a MF! _________ Bench Press Clusters at 100kg 5x(3+3+2/3) Weighted Pull Up x 2RM (30kg) Weighted Chin Up 3x fail (30kg, 18kg, bodyweight) L-Sit 3x (nearly died at 20 seconds) _________ Be sure to follow @mikejdewar for workouts, training inspiration, and rando acts of daily life! #lsit #pullup #squat #bodyweight #cleanandjerk #snatch #trainhard #calesthenics #roguefitness #eleiko #reebok #barbend #crossfit #crossfitgames #crossfitter #weightlifter #gymnastics #abworkout #bodyweighttraining #beastmode #powerbuild #weightedpullups #coretraining #abs #olympicweightlifting #swole #stfuat #benchpress @knoxxfitbrz #repsandsets #realcalisthenics

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Support Holds

This can be done on the floor, rings, parallettes, or any other stable surface. The goal of this movement is to educate and develop proper upper body strength, core stabilization, and body control necessary for the below progressions.

Leg Raises (on Floor)

This movement is performed by starting in the support position (often easiest to teach from the floor) with the athlete simply raising their legs off the ground. The key to this exercise is to first contract the core, quads, and upper body, promoting slow and controlled movement with minimal momentum and/or bouncing of the legs (off the ground) to lift it. Over time, the individual can work to increase the height to which the leg is lifted/increase the time of the leg lift and hold,  to increase isometric and core strength.

Tucked Support

This is a simple progression of the support hold, as the individual now pulls their feet and knees into the body while also lifting themselves off the floor into the tucked, elevated position. This is a foundational position to be in as it increases upper body isometric strength and coordination, body control, and muscular engagement of the core, hip flexors, and quadriceps.

Tucked Support with Leg Lifts

Once the individual has mastered the tucked support position, he/she may slowly extend on leg (or two) in front of them, working to minimize body swinging and maximize control of the lifter’s leg. Holds can be done with one or both legs held out front for time, alternating lifts, or any combination of the two.

Low L-Sit

The low l-sit is a position that is between the tucked support with leg lifts and the full-sit. It is simply when the individual is able to perform a tucked support hold with both legs extended and elevated off the floor. If an individual has issues lifting the legs high enough to be off the ground, he/she can increase the height at which the supports are to give more room for the legs to be lifted. Over time, the individual can work themselves back closer to the floor until they are fully able to perform a l-sit position with the legs at parallel of above hip level.

Advanced L-Sit Exercises

The below exercises include the foundations of thel-sit. While some of these movements are more dynamic in nature than the l-sit, they require a foundational skill set that includes core strength, stability, and isometric abilities of the individual.

L-Sit Pull-Up/L-Sit Rope Climb

In an earlier article we covered the l-sit pull-up and how to properly progress, perform, and program these into training sessions. This movement requires a strong ability to perform l-sits, with additional upper body strength restaurants due to the pull-up/rope climb demands.

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Raising my l-sit game to another level bruh! Found it helpful to hold a belt (can do anything) in between the feet to keep tension. Threw these into a 30min movement #emom after no contact snatches and cleans, push presses, and light muscle snatch + power snatch complexes (next post). Below is today’s chill EMOM @ndefrei and I came up with… _________ L-Sit Rope Climb (or weighted) x 1 Bike x 40 seconds Abs of Choice x 40 seconds Row x 40 seconds Handstand Hold (tripod) x 40 seconds _________ Be sure to follow @mikejdewar for workouts, training inspiration, and rando acts of daily life! #lsit #pullup #squat #bodyweight #cleanandjerk #snatch #bodyweightworkout #calesthenics #roguefitness #eleiko #reebok #barbend #crossfit #crossfitgames #crossfitter #weightlifter #gymnastics #abworkout #bodyweighttraining #beastmode #powerbuild #weightedpullups #coretraining #abs #olympicweightlifting #ropeclimb #realcalisthenics #gymnast #freestyleconnection

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L-Sit with Leg Lifts

This movement is a progression upon the l-sit that requires a lifter to elevate the legs higher than parallel (to the hips) while moving side to side and up and down. The leg raises over a fixed object (which the higher the object the greater the difficulty) challenge concentric, isometric, and eccentric strength and control of the core muscles, while also increase the demands placed upon the upper body to remain in balance and control throughout this moment.

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The l-sit journey continues… __________ Started form the floor now we here. Been working on l-sit holds for past few weeks, from the floor, supports, and rings. My midline stability and hip flexor/quad isometric strength was abysmal, but pretty happy to be progressing! Added this movement to the mix and it was brutal (thanks @alecsmith8). Find it helpful to use the towel between legs to keep tension. Did these after some standard timed l-sit holds, so they broke down pretty quickly (heels tapping floor in last set). Goal is to do these slower and pause on each side next time. __________ Added these new ones to my line up after nailing the l-sit hold (20 seconds), l-sit strict pull-up, and l-sit rope climb last week! __________ 3 sets of 10 l-sit + side to side raises. #lsit #coretraining #kettlebells #olympicweightlifting #mobility #mobilitywod #crossfit #coreworkout #crossfitopen #crossfitter #abs #reebokone #barbend #hybridathlete #functionalfitness #isometric #gymnastics #weightlifting #abworkout #functionaltraining #core #calesthenics #bodyweight #bodyweighttraining #bodyweightworkout

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L-Sit to Tucked Hold to L-Sit

This movement increases the demands of the basic l-sit hold in that it forces the lifter to be able to control their body through a dynamic range of motion. The l-sit hold is regressed back into the tucked support position, held, and the returned under control. Repetitions or timed sets can be done to increase upper body and core isometric strength and muscle control.

L-Sit to Handstand

The l-sit to handstand is a highly advanced exercise that requires a lifter to be able to perform a handstand (freestanding). The individual starts by performing a l-sit hold and slowly regressing to a tucked position. This can then be moved into a handstand tripod into strict or kipping handstand push up, or simply from the l-sit hold into the tucked support into a freestanding handstand push up and hold. This exercise challenge total body strength, stability, and body control.

More About L-Sits!

Check out the below l-sit articles and upgrade your core strength and fitness!

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