7-step guide to a PERFECT hanging L sit!

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I am almost ALWAYS looking for different ways to train my core – hitting abs is something I often shy away from, so I try and use VARIETY to keep me motivated!

Hanging L-sits are a great addition for me – I can perform them quickly at the end of a workout without needing to spend time setting up any more equipment. Here’s what you need to know about L-hangs (as some people call them!)

7 step guide to a PERFECT hanging L-sit

At a glance…

  • Hanging L sits are an excellent isometric core and hip flexor movement that just requires a pull up bar to perform
  • A hanging L-sit can be known as the L-hang, with an ‘L-sit’ commonly performed from the floor
  • Alternative movements that heavily work the abs include planks, crunches, dragon flags and ‘toes to bar’
  • There is a 7-step method to perform a hanging L-sit – check it out below
  • Warning: Hanging L-sits can be HARD! Prepare to be humbled – aim for 15-30 second holds building to 45 seconds over time. But hey – at least your sets won’t take too long!

Are hanging L sits good, or not?

Hanging L-sits are a good isometric movement targeting the abdominals, obliques and hip flexors primarily. They build excellent body control and are a great addition to most bodyweight (or indeed weightlifting GPP day) training routines.

L-sit vs L-hang

In this article we are talking about a hanging L-sit which is also known as a ‘L-hang’, with the term L-sit being used for the same position BUT done from the floor. L-sits are harder than L-hangs, so we will do separate articles for those.

Almost universally people can hold their L position for longer in a hanging L compared to an L-sit. This can be good – or bad – depending on your goals. A longer hold = more time under tension, for example…

What muscles do hanging L-sits work?

One of the great things about L-sits is that they hot a variety of muscles and not just your abdominals. Even though it’s a static hold (an ‘isometric’ movement) your muscles are all still hit pretty hard.

Here are the muscles worked in a hanging L-sit:

  • Abdominals
  • Obliques
  • Hip flexors
  • Quads
  • Lats

If you do your L sits from the floor you also hit shoulders, pecs and triceps.

What are the benefits?

There are numerous benefits to an L-hang (or hanging L-sit). They build excellent body control as well as workings your core muscles really well. Combine with another core-heavy movement (I like ab wheel rollouts) and add to your GPP days to get started!

What are the alternatives?

If you’re looking to hit your core then an L-sit (or L-hang) is a great movement, but there are a ton of alternatives you can rotate around as well:

  • Planks – one of the all-time great ab movements. Similar to the L’s it is an isometric hold.
  • Sit ups – weighted or unweighted
  • Ab wheel roll outs – from knees or standing
  • Dragon flags

And one thing these movements have in common is that they are all a BIT easier to get started with…

7-step process to perform a hanging L-sit

Performing a hanging L-sit is quite simple in concept, HOLDING the position is the tough bit! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a wider than shoulder width grip on your pull-up bar or rings
  2. Assume the dead hang position – tighten your core to keep your body under control
  3. Pull your scapula downwards. This will serve to ‘widen’ your shoulders. Having your scapula firing helps with overall stability throughout the movement
  4. Perform a leg raise to lift the underside of your legs to run parallel to the ground. Focus on trying to ”lift your toes up”
  5. Maintain this position as a hold for as long as practical
  6. Repeat for a chosen number of ‘reps’
  7. The rep is over at time, or when your legs droop below parallel

How hard are hanging L-sits?

If you have not trained your abs previously you will find an L sit very difficult to perform for a meaningful amount of time.

Instead of jumping straight to L-hangs first try dead hangs, planks, toes to bar, ab-wheel roll outs and other similar movements which will build a base core strength.

How to progress over time

Like many bodyweight exercises there is a steep learning curve, and progressing over time is less straight forward than simply adding a kilo to a barbell!

And like many bodyweight exercises when starting out do not discount NEGATIVES – that is controlled descents from the L-hang down to a dead hang. This still builds core strength and is a great way to get started.

In the early days practice on form and be strict with keeping your legs parallel to the ground. Aim for 3 – 5 sets of 15-30 seconds of holding then progress these up to 45 second holds.

From that point onwards introduce weighting or other complexities to challenge your body – consider moving to train the L-sit pull up for example.

The other option is to hit variations of the basic movement – for example flutter kicks, leg raises or toes to bar to keep the volume high even if you can’t hold the full position for too long.

What if you can’t get in to the position?

If you are getting cramps or struggling to get in to position it could be weak hip flexors rather than a flexibility issue that prevents you from getting a crisp L shape with your legs. 

To train this area lie on your back and perform a leg raise to the same 90 degree angle. Do this numerous times per day for a few weeks and then try your L-sit again, and prepare to be surprised at the difference this simple stretch makes…!

Conclusion

Hanging L-sits are an excellent way to add core training in to your workouts. I regularly cycle these in and run a progression up until I stall out. At this point I usually work up an alternative core movement. Try them out and see how you get on!

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