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I find the L-sit a super intense exercise and, from time to time, I find myself wanting to skip it – particularly at the end of a gruelling session! Having a few L-sit alternatives up my sleeve for those workout days is an excellent way to ensure I still get the ab-work I need, even if I can’t face another L-sit…
At a glance…
- The PLANK is the best L-sit alternative as it replicates the isometric hold component of an L-sit and heavily targets the abdominals
- Ab wheel rollouts are my second favourite substitute – they have lower time under tension than an L-sit but similarly work a range of muscles across the core and upper back / arms
- Leg or knee raises are a far easier way of hitting your abs while reducing the time under tension significantly
- Turkish get ups can be a fun move to throw in from time to time!
- There are a number of other alternatives listed below – try them all out and stick with your favourites!
The top 9 L-sit alternatives are…
Here are my 9 favourite L-sit alternatives:
- Ab wheel rollouts
- Leg raises (hanging or from floor)
- Hanging knee raises
- Dragon flags
- Dip isometric holds
- Turkish get up
Let’s take a look at just a few of these substitutes in a bit more detail:
Why the plank is the no.1 alternative to an L-sit
The plank is a far more accessible core workout than any L-sit variation making it the best t L-sit alternative. Doing a full plank (where you are on your toes and elbows) the plank works your abdominals, obliques, lats and quads with loads more muscles also contributing to a lesser degree (triceps and delts for example.)
Where it is VERY similar to the L-sit is that it offers a lot of time under tension. Where several of the other alternatives e.g. leg raises are essentially ‘reps’, the plank is a HOLD and keeps the core tight throughout.
One of the secrets to an effective planks is to keep your back FLAT – don’t give in and let your hips ride up, keep them DOWN!
Ab wheel roll outs are AWESOME too!
Another regular alternative I use to hit my abs is the ab wheel rollout. I started doing it from my knees for loads of reps but eventually progressed through standing ab wheel negatives, until I was able to rep full standing rollouts. I find the standing roll outs give my abs the best workout vs the partial range of motion alternative knee rollouts.
They are TOUGH – but they give me an intense ab workout which is what I need in my GPP training slots. If you are similarly trying to develop your abs then give these a shot too!
Knee and leg raises
If you want to hit your lower abs but want a less intense alternative to a traditional L-sit then leg raises (and the easier knee-raise) are great. Try flutter kicks as well.
The main pro AND con of these is that they have lower time under tension. This is far less intense when performing, but means some of the L-sit benefit is lost.
Dip isometric holds work their SHOULDERS
Get yourself in to the dip position and… hold still! This works your shoulder depression and builds stamina to be able to hold yourself in the L-sit position WITHOUT adding the abdominal workout an L-sit brings.
This means you can hit HALF of the movement – similar to a pin squat or bench – which can be a great tactic if your aim is to improve your overall L-sit time without fatiguing your core any more.
The downside? If your goals are orientated around ab work then these holds will not help you get there directly.
Honourable mention for the Turkish get up
If you need a break from intense ab work then a Turkish get up is a less stressful way to work your core as well as a ton of other muscles. Fundamentally this is a ‘get up’ from the lying position, finishing with a kettlebell (or dumbbell) raised overhead.
The downside? It is a less intense ab exercise, which is also the benefit… So depending on WHY you do L-sits usually you may find that Turkish get ups are a great alternative for you.
For me? I do L-sits for direct ab work, so I stick to planks…
What muscles do L-sits work?
The L-sit is a full body exercise which focuses MOST work on the core (abdominals, obliques et al) as well as your triceps, quads and hip flexors.
When looking at moves we can substitute for an L sit we really want to see as much commonality in the muscles worked as possible – so something that is heavy on the abs!
How does this affect the substitute movement choices?
Your own training goals may put a slant on your chosen alternatives – for example if you are training for gymnastics the tricep and shoulder work may be important lending you to focus on dip isometric holds, whereas a strength or aesthetics focused lifter would prefer ab-heavy substitutes like crunches or planks.
While a lot of movement target your abs, not many do it quite as well as an L-sit! From the above list of 9 awesome alternatives hopefully you find some inspiration to keep you motivated to get through your next ab-workout! Try them all out and pick the one YOU like best… But maybe start with the plank!
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