What is L-Sit? 

L-sit is a fundamental core exercise that every aspiring calisthenics athlete should practice. This exercise will help you to build a solid foundation for exercises such as the pull up, push up, squat, muscle up, front lever, and many more awesome exercises! The L-sit is performed by raising your legs up with toes pointed until they’re at a 90 degrees angle in relation to your torso. It is a form of isometric contraction that can be performed on the pull up bar, parallel bars, gymnastics rings, or on the floor.

What Muscles are Worked by L-sit?

The primary muscles worked are the abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, quadriceps, triceps. The secondary muscles worked are the forearms, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and latissimus dorsi.

What Level is the L-sit

This exercise is for 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 it’s very impressive looking once you have it. Training for this awesome skill is worth it!

How to L-sit? 

Before you begin training the L-sit, 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 three best stretches that you should practice one straight after the other for three sets.

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

 

L-sit Progression

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 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 master 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.

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?

Toned Core

L-sit will develop your isometric strength. This exercise puts tension on the abdominals, obliques, 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. 

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.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.