L-Sit Tutorial: Build Core Compression and Get Strong and Flexible

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What is L-Sit? 

The L-sit is a fundamental core exercise that every aspiring calisthenics athlete should practice. This exercise will help you to build a solid foundation in your abs, obliques, triceps, shoulders, hip flexors, lats, and pecs. This isometric core exercise involves supporting your body with your arms as you hold your legs straight in front, levitating them off the floor. 

In case you didn’t know, isometric exercises involve engaging your muscles without expanding or contracting them. At first impression, the L-sit can look a little daunting for newbies but don’t worry, even difficult exercises can be broken down into simple and actionable steps. In this guide, I’ll show you all the progressions and soon you’ll be performing the L-sit at ease.

What Muscles are Worked by L-Sits?

The primary muscles worked by the L-sit are the abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, quadriceps, and triceps. The secondary muscles worked are the forearms, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and latissimus dorsi. L-sits may look relatively simple, but they require tremendous strength and flexibility. 

What Level is the L-sit

This exercise is for the intermediate level and above as you will require it’s a combination of balance, flexibility, and core strength. But don’t worry! it’s easy to learn and I’ll show you how to unlock it in 6 easy-to-follow steps. 

How To Do The L-sit Hold? 

Before you begin training with L-sits, it is highly recommended that you stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings to avoid cramping up in these areas. Developing your hamstring flexibility and hip flexor strength will enable you to have an effective workout. Below are the three best stretches that you should practice one straight after the other for three sets.

According to bodybuilding.com, once you’re able to crank out sets of 10-20 seconds of L-sits, you’ll find that all that strength and flexibility carries over into other movements such as handstands, yoga, and weight lifting.  They’re all better with a stronger core, shoulders, and overall mind and muscle connection. 

  • Hip Flexor Stretch (20 seconds on each side)
  • Seated Toe Touch (20 seconds)
  • Standing Toe Touch (20 seconds)

L-Sits Progressions

Practice 1-3 any of these exercises for 3 times a week,  and you will be able to do the L-sit as it will develop the strength and the flexibility required for this skill.

1. Seated Pike Compression

This exercise will develop your ability to actively compress the hips, which has many positive carries over in many areas of life. It will help you build the anterior chain, hip flexors, quadriceps, and core strength. To do this, you will:

  1. Begin in a seated position on the ground with your legs together in front of you. Engage your core to keep your torso upright, and point your toes forward. Reach your hands in front of you just by your knees.
  2. Maintain a forward lean from your torso, followed by actively lifting your legs off the ground as high as you can without bending your knees. Don’t lean back.
  3. Repeat. Aim to perform this for 6-20 reps for 4 sets. As you get stronger, move your arms towards your toes to increase the difficulty.

2. Knee Raises

This progression can be performed by hanging from the bar, or on the parallel bars. This is a form of active mobility exercise that develops your core compression and hip flexors. To do this, you will: 

    1. Hang from the bar using a pronated grip at shoulder-width apart. Or stand between parallel bars and grip the bar tightly on each side. Lift your body off the floor with both arms locked out. This is your starting position.
    2. Gradually raise your knees up toward your chest. Engage your core all through this movement.
    3. Slowly lower your legs to the starting position.
    4. Repeat. Aim to perform this for 5-12 reps for 4 sets.

3. Leg Raises

Once you’ve mastered knee raises, you can progress to the leg raises. This variation is harder because the hip flexors are working harder due to your legs being straight. To perform this, you will:

  1. Hang from the bar using a pronated grip at shoulder-width apart. Or stand between parallel bars and grip the bar tightly on each side. Lift your body off the floor with both arms locked out. This is your starting position.
  2. Slowly raise your legs up until they’re at a 90 degrees angle in relation to your torso. Engage your core the entire movement. Do not bend your knees.
  3. Slowly lower your legs to the starting position.
  4. Repeat. Aim to perform this for 5-12 reps for 4 sets.

I have written an extensive leg raises guide on how to properly perform leg raises along with six different variations so that you won’t have to second guess yourself. 

4. Single Leg Kicks

This is a dynamic exercise where you will either hang from the bar or grip tight on top of the parallel bars. You will tuck your legs in towards your chest and kick one leg out, followed by the other, and alternate. The goal is to slow down the time between alternating the legs. To perform this, you will:

  1. Hang from the bar using a pronated grip at shoulder-width apart. Or stand between parallel bars and grip the bar tightly on each side. Lift your body off the floor with both arms locked out. This is your starting position.
  2. Slowly raise your knees up towards your chest. Keep your feet together and core engaged throughout this movement.
  3. Slowly kick one leg out whilst keeping the other tucked in. This will create an L-shape between your torso and your legs. Bring the leg back into the tuck and alternate between both legs.
  4. Repeat. Aim to perform this for 6-20 reps for 4 sets.

5. Double Leg Kicks

Just like progressing from knee raises to leg raises, double leg kicks are a progression from single leg kicks. This variation will increase time under tension for your abdominals and hip flexors. To perform this, you will:

  1. Hang from the bar using a pronated grip at shoulder-width apart. Or stand between parallel bars and grip the bar tightly on each side. Lift your body off the floor with both arms locked out. This is your starting position.
  2. Slowly raise your knees up towards your chest. Engage your core and keep your feet together
  3. Slowly kick both legs out to form a 90 degrees angle between your legs and torso (to create an L-shaped body). Bring legs back into a tucked knee position and repeat.
  4. Repeat. Aim to perform this for 5-16 reps for 4 sets.

Your goal is to slow the time between each kick, and eventually hold 1-3 seconds at the L-sit position before bringing your knees back in. This will increase abdominal and hip flexor strength, and stamina needed for the L-sit hold.

6. L-sit

This is your final goal! You can perform this whilst hanging from a bar or on top of parallel bars. To perform the L-sit, you will:

  1. Hang from the bar using a pronated grip at shoulder-width apart. Or stand between parallel bars and grip the bar tightly on each side. Lift your body off the floor with both arms locked out. Engage your core. This is your starting position.
  2. Raise your legs up until they’re at a 90 degrees angle in relation to your torso. This should create an L-shape between your torso and legs. Your feet are together and your toes are pointed forward. Engage your core the entire time. Aim to hold this between 5-20 seconds for 5 sets.
  3. Gradually lower your legs back to the ground and let go of the bar. Repeat.

What are the Benefits of L-sit?

Sculpted Core

L-sit will develop your isometric strength. This exercise puts tension on the abdominals, obliques, and hip flexors which will give you a rock-solid core. Training this consistently will give you the strength and definition you’ve always wanted in the midsection. Men’s Health emphasized that practicing the L-sit can help you build a better body and a sculpted core. 

Develop Midline Stability

This exercise challenges you to develop the capability to develop midline pressure and stability. Thus, it will give you more control over your body which will stabilize the spine, together with assisting movement and resisting unwanted force that could spoil your body’s balance and stability.

Transferable Strength 

Having strong fundamentals such as core strength will help you to progress faster in movements such as the handstand, muscle ups, front lever, push-ups, and pull-ups. The core is essential in shielding the spine and creating force in explosive exercises. Learn how to unlock these gravity-defying movements by checking out the in-depth guide below:

The Takeaways: L-sits

Give planks a rest and try the L-sit for greater core strength and stability. The L-sit is an exercise that not only targets your abs but also other muscles such as the quads, triceps, hip flexors, and shoulders. With proper technique and flexibility development, you will gain an upper hand when doing other exercises. Our online coaching program will help you master the L-sit and many other bodyweight skills. Get in touch and book a free consultation with our expert coaches today. 


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