L Sit

L Sit: in 3 progressions to your first hold

The L-sit is hailed as one of the best abdominal exercises, and for good reason. By incorporating this isometric workout into your routine, you not only enhance your strength but also improve your body’s stability. Moreover, mastering the L-sit sets the stage for advanced exercises like handstand push-ups, frontlever, and backlever.

Curious about the muscles targeted during an L-sit and how beginners can work towards achieving their first one? This blog has all the answers.


What is the L sit?

The L-sit is an isometric strength exercise where you push yourself off the ground with straight arms, keeping your legs extended in front of you. This creates the shape of the letter L, hence the name.

In an isometric exercise, the length of your muscles remains constant during the movement, but there is a continuous contraction of the muscles.

Other well-known isometric exercises include the front and back lever, the human flag, or a straightforward plank.

Which muscles are engaged during an L-sit?

The L-sit goes beyond being solely an abdominal exercise. In addition to your abdominal muscles, it engages your hip flexors, quadriceps, shoulder muscles, triceps, chest muscles, and lats.

Flexibility for the L-sit

If you lack flexibility in your hamstrings, it can make training the L-sit quite challenging. Therefore, I recommend warming them up thoroughly before starting your L-sit workout.

Check out the video below for hamstring stretch inspiration.

L sit progressions

There are various progressions that assist you in working towards your first L-sit. Progressions are simplified versions of the exercise that gradually acclimate your body to the new movement.

By incorporating these progressions, your muscles strengthen, and your body gradually adapts to the new motions.

Progression 1: 1 feet L sit

In this variation, one leg remains on the ground, requiring relatively less muscle effort.

It’s crucial to alternate your legs when training this variation.

1 been L sit

Progression 2: tucked L sit

This is the tucked L-sit, where your knees are bent. This significantly lightens the exercise by bringing the center of your mass closer.

The tucked L-sit is the ideal exercise to get accustomed to locking your elbows and pushing your shoulders down under the pressure of your body weight.

tucked L sit

Progression 3: tucked L sit 1 leg extended

Once you’ve mastered the tucked variation, it’s time to extend one leg. Again, it’s crucial to train both sides in this variation.

Progression 4: full L sit

Patiently training the above exercises will eventually lead you to the full L-sit. In this variation, both legs are extended, forming the letter L with your body.

L Sit

How do you train for the L-sit?

To start, it’s essential to determine the surface on which you’ll train the L-sit. You can choose from the floor, an elevation like parallettes or yoga blocks, or on rings.

If you’re just beginning with the L-sit, I recommend training on an elevation (such as yoga blocks or parallettes). This significantly eases your training by providing more room to raise your legs. Later on, you can progress to more challenging variations.

Step 1: Choose one of the previously mentioned progressions.

Step 2: Place the parallettes/blocks approximately shoulder-width apart.

Step 3: Position your palms on the equipment and grip them firmly.

Step 4: Extend your arms until your elbows are locked, focusing on outward rotation of the elbows.

Step 5: Engage your core, quads, and hip flexors, lifting your legs until they are parallel to the floor.

Step 6: Complete a total of 3 sets of this progression per session. Ensure that you can hold each set for a minimum of 5 seconds. Once you can maintain a progression for 3 sets of 15 seconds, move on to the next progression.

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L sit dropset

To bridge the progression between different sets, it’s beneficial to incorporate a drop set. Begin with a full L-sit, and when you can no longer sustain it, transition to a tucked variation.

This allows you to spend more overall time in the exercise without needing to perform numerous sets.

Exercises to support the L-sit

In addition to training the L-sit itself, it can be wise to incorporate supplementary exercises into your workout. This allows you to target and strengthen specific weaknesses effectively.

dip shrugs

The first assistance exercise focuses on depressing the shoulder blades, commonly referred to as ‘shoulder depression.’

Gravity tends to push your body downward, leading to a ‘shoulder elevation’ where your shoulders move towards your ears. To prevent this, it’s crucial to strengthen your shoulder muscles.

An ideal exercise for this is dip shrugs, which can be performed on a dip bar. In this exercise, you actively push the shoulder blades down and then allow them to slide back up.

Check out the video below for a demonstration.

Knee raises

To strengthen your abdominal muscles and hip flexors for the L-sit, it’s beneficial to incorporate knee raises into your routine.

You can perform these in two ways. Firstly, hanging from a bar, pull your knees up towards your chest.

However, an even better option (especially for the L-sit) is the dip bar knee raise. In this variation, you execute knee raises while depressing your shoulders downward. This exercise closely resembles the L-sit and shares significant overlap.

For a demonstration of dip bar knee raises, check out the video below.

More challenging variations

Once you’ve mastered the L-sit, it’s natural to progress to the next level. You have various options for this advancement.

If you initially learned the L-sit on parallettes, try performing it on the floor or on the rings. You’ll find it significantly more challenging in these settings.

On the ground, limited space requires increased flexibility. Training on the rings demands precise control, adding a completely new dimension to the exercise.

Additionally, you can continue by training the V-sit. This variation involves lifting your legs even higher and demands greater flexibility.

Check out the video below for a tutorial on the V-sit.

Final tip

If the L-sit is your primary goal, it’s advisable to train it at the beginning of your workout when you’re still fresh.

However, for many people, it serves as a supportive exercise for various other impressive calisthenics exercises.

In such cases, it’s best to save the L-sit for the end of your workout. Since this exercise demands a lot from your body, training the L-sit at the beginning could potentially reduce your performance in other exercises.

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