ULTIMATE guide to L-sits for beginners

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Are you bored of planks? They why not give the L-sit a whirl! Similar to planking, the L-sit is an isometric move that focuses on building your core. Here’s everything you need to know as an L-sit beginner!

ULTIMATE guide to L-sits for beginners

At a glance…

  • L-sits are NOT easy and should not be underestimated
  • They are so hard because they rely not only on STRENGTH, but also FLEXIBILITY!
  • There are 6 steps to the perfect L-sit listed out below
  • You should be able to hold an L-sit for 5-10 second initially, gradually increasing to 30-45 seconds per hold
  • Use tucks (with feel on the floor), one legged L-sits, tuck-sits and toes to bar as progressions to build up to a full L-sit

Are L-sits easy?

No, l-sits are NOT easy. They are an isometric movement that involves core STRENGTH but also BODY CONTROL as you need to hold yourself in place while balanced on your hands.

Why is the L-Sit so hard?

The two primary reasons L-sits feel so hard are:

  1. Strength – don’t be fooled in to thinking this is a pure ABDOMINAL exercise, it also hits your hip flexors pretty hard too. Having weak hip flexors can make maintaining the L position difficult.
  2. Flexibility – many people transitioning from strength training or bodybuilding towards calisthenics or CrossFit can struggle with flexibility. As an L-sit relies on tight body control this can be an issue that needs worked on to successfully hit this hold!

As a rule of thumb, if you struggle to HOLD the position it is likely a strength issue. Alternatively if you are having issues getting in to position (e.g. straightening your legs) then it is more likely to be a FLEXIBILITY issue.

6-steps to performing a PERFECT L-sit

The steps to perform a proper L sit are:

  1. Get in to position – sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. If you want to do these with parallettes have these in position beside you, approximately shoulder width apart is ideal.
  2. Take a grip – grab your parallettes with a false grip. This is where the ball of the hand crosses the bar for maximum strength and to prevent your wrist folding back on itself. Alternatively use your open palm on the floor if you are not electing to use parallettes.
  3. Lift off – retract your scapulas and pull your shoulders DOWN, engage your triceps and let your arms take your bodyweight.
  4. Legs up – raise your legs up in front of you with your toes outstretched. Focus on trying to ‘raise your toes’ and keeping your leg as straight as possible. 
  5. Hold the position – once suspended you will find your body pivots to get the centre of gravity in the right place. Once you get in to this position you will need to HOLD the L-sit

How long should you be able to hold an L-sit for?

L-sits are difficult – start with holds of 5-10 seconds and build these up to 45 seconds over time. Compensate for the relatively short time under tension by doing several holds in succession with relatively short rest between them.

Here’s how to get BETTER at L-sits!

PRACTICE! Throw in L-sits at the end of every workout or even every day if you have to. The more you train these in short and sharp bursts, the better you will get at L-sitting.

This is especially important with these difficult holds as when starting out the time under tension is so short we need to hit a TON of reps to get the volume needed to improve.

What if you can’t get in to position?

If you are struggling to get even a single hold then there are a few movements you can do to build up that base strength:

  • Tuck (feet on the floor) – Follow steps 1-3 for the L-sit above and do NOT raise your legs. This will ensure you have the ability to get your upper body in to position and get your shoulders and arms in to the all important brace position
  • One footed L-sit – keep one foot on the ground and perform an L-sit with the other (it could be more of a K-sit!)
  • Tuck-sit – to make the hold easier you can perform a tuck-hold – get in to position but instead of lifting the legs OUTSTRETCHED, instead lift them in a knee-raise style. This puts less stress on the body
  • Toes to bar – if you struggle with the body control aspect performing toes to bar is a great way to start out. The constant movement feels easier than an isometric hold, but the longer range of motion is great for building the control and flexibility aspects required for calisthenics training

After these 3 progressions you can move on to a full L-sit!

Conclusion

L-sits are TOUGH for beginners and experts alike – hopefully by following the above progressions you can introduce them gradually in to your training and start to hit your core with this awesome isometric hold!

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