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As with any exercise there are a ton of benefits to incorporating L-sit pull ups in to your workout routines – BUT also a few drawbacks. I love the improved body awareness and control they build which benefits other bodyweight movements, but HATE how difficult they are to begin with! Here’s what you need to know…
At a glance…
- There are 6 benefits to L-sit pull ups listed below… As well as a big negative!
- Improved body control is the number one benefit
- … closely followed by their sneaky way of adding extra ab work in to my workouts!
- Incorporate them in your routine once you are proficient at L-hangs and traditional pull-ups!
The 6 benefits of L-sit pull-ups are…
There are a ton of pros to L-sits AND for pull ups, so when we combine the two surely we can’t go wrong?! Here are the main benefits of including L-sit pull-ups in your training:
- Improved body control
- Sneaks in extra abdominal work
- Hits lower abs with isometric work
- Improves endurance
- No kipping
- Gymnastic and calisthenics crossover
And the downside? Well there is one stand out negative:
- L-sit pull ups are HARD!
Let’s dive in to each of these in a little more detail:
Improved body control
Holding a hanging L sit is TOUGH! Getting in to position and holding it builds a fantastic mind-body connection and will allow us to better control ourselves in other bodyweight movements and holds. For example my toes to bar sets are far more controlled and core-focused since building up my L-sit time.
Sneaks in extra abdominal work
Confession time, I am not a huge fan of ab work. I find it tough and a bit… boring! L-sit pull ups work the core fundamentally, but are also pretty fun to try as they are so challenging. This can be seen directly in other ab work – for example my plank time went up massively due to the crossover!
Hits lower abs with isometric work
Lower abdominals can be difficult to hit effectively. I find planks and ab wheel roll outs (another two favourites of mine) ‘feel’ more upper and mid-abdominal focused. Holding an L-sit is firmly in the lower abs!
Isometric holds are fairly unusual for weight or powerlifters. We are not used to time under tension training, so naturally we suck at it! Building this skill is part of a rounded training career and an L-sit is a great way to hit the torso with this style of training, and the hang improves our ability to cope in that position (e.g. improve grip endurance). That’s what I call a win-win!
The position held during the L-sit pull up means it’s very difficult to kip (either deliberately or by accident) as the core must be held tight throughout the range of motion to stabilise the legs. The descent is therefore more controlled than a typical pull up and there is no bounce at the bottom. The benefit to this is that it means our muscles are doing ALL of the work so we are working areas where we might (accidentally or not) compensate with a little bounce or kip (typically at the extremes of the movement – so at both the top and bottom.)
Gymnastic and calisthenics crossover
Body control, isometric holds and hanging position work are all fundamentals in bodyweight, gymnastics and calisthenics training. Building these skills with the L-sit paves the way to move your training towards these areas in the future (if you want to!)
Why bother with L-sit pull ups?
If you’re interested in bodyweight or calisthenics training then the L-sit pull up is a great way to train your core and back. A strong upper back and abs are fundamental to these training styles: The pull up element has a lot of crossover to other movements such as muscle ups, and the L-sit trains the core and builds our body control which we all naturally suck at!)
Our guide to L-sit pull up progression
Progress to become a master of the L-sit pull up by building the core components in to your training before putting them all together. Being a bodyweight movement the progression can be more tricky than a weighted movement where we can micro load over time. Instead we must work similar movements to build strength.
Here are the main building blocks you need to master:
- Pull up – one of the fundamental components to the L-sit pull up is, unsurprisingly, the ability to nail a strict pull up. If you have not mastered these (e.g. you can’t regularly do 8-10+ rep sets) then you are best to focus your training on improving these. The strict form is important as there is NO hiding behind kipping when doing an L-sit variant of the pull up as your body is under constant tension via the L-sit element itself so there is no ‘bounce’ to help you out
- Hanging knee raise – to trigger stronger core activation in the hanging position start with sets of knee raises. Hang from the bar and lift your knees upwards until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hanging knee HOLDS are where the ‘knees up’ position is held for time. It is a useful variant when training for the L-sit given the isometric nature of them both.
- Hanging L-sit – progress from knee raises or holds to a hanging L-sit. Lifting as if from your toes, raise your legs upwards until your toes point forward with your thigh parallel to the ground. HOLD this position for as long as possible. It is important to build confidence and duration in this position as this is the second fundamental movement (after the pull-up) that we need
- L-sit pull up – combine the two principle movements by getting in to the hanging L-sit and then performing a strict pull up, controlling our descent on each rep.
There are various L-sit pull up benefits to be had – if you are interested in taking your bodyweight training further or working on your gymnastics in the future they are an ideal exercise to incorporate in to your regular routine. For the rest of us they still bring some excellent benefits – such as improved body control and lower-ab focused isometric work.
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