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.
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
- Hip Flexors
- Scapular Stabilizers
- Anterior Delts
- Latissimus Dorsi
How to Perform L-Sit Holds on Rings
The L-Sit — in this case referring to an L-Sit hold — is a fundamental gymnastic progression that can be used to build full-body strength and awareness. While the movement can be done on the floor or using rings, blocks, parallettes, parallel bars, or other equipment, the instructions below describe performing the movement on a set of hanging gymnastic rings.
Step 1: Press to full extension on gymnastics rings with your feet off the ground.
It’s important to keep the torso vertical throughout the movement.
Step 2: Keeping your legs straight, bring them up until they are parallel to the floor.
Make sure your elbows stay locked and externally rotated.
Step 3: Work to make sure your knees and feet stay together.
During the L-Sit hold, some athletes have a tendency to let their legs stray apart.
Step 4: Stay tight with a neutral head, toes pointed, and rings close to the hips.
The further the rings stray from the body, the less stable the movement becomes.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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