The L-Sit is a seemingly simple move to learn and very difficult to master. It seems so simple just to elevates oneself off the ground in a seated position, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. And there is so much more nuance to explore with an L-Sit.
The L-Sit is a fantastic test, and drill, for both the anterior (front) and posterior (back) musculature, as well as the upper and lower body. We work core strength through the rectus abdominus – the ‘six pack’ musculature, whilst simultaneously working the pectoral muscles to achieve flexion, to round and steady the shoulders. We also work the Scapulae, and their stabilisers, the lats, triceps and hip flexors. And for the lower body, the L-Sit works the quads and glutes.
Paralettes are the key piece of equipment to get started with the L-Sit. The paralettes help keep your neutral grip focused, and you can use the paralettes to work towards an L-Sit with drills, through the main factors to consider in an L-Sit, which I’ll come onto in a moment.
The main factors to consider for achieving an L-Sit are;
Compression + Core Strength, Tricep Strength, Shoulder Depression, Grip Strength and Leg + Glute Tension
The TUT (time under tension) and length of your L-Sit can be worked on and improved following the establishment of these key factors:
Compression + Core Strength
This is one of the key factors for holding balance and rigidity in the L-Sit, allowing us to keep our leg elevation and balance during the L-Sit. Any anti-rotation core exercises are a great way to train this. Any exercises that work the Rectus Abdominus across multiple planes of motion are key here. Think knee raises, toes to bar, windscreen wipers, etc. But the best drill to build that compression strength is the compression raise; Grab a mat and sit down on it with your legs, straight out in front of you with pointed toes, and squeeze your feet and knees together. Lean forwards over your knees and place your hands either side of them and focus on lifting your legs off the ground from that position and control the negative. Your range may not be that far too start with but this exercise will get you toward that compression strength you need to advance your L-Sit. You can also do this drill with wide split legs and pointed toes – that one is a killer!
The triceps help to balance and stabilise us when we are up in that L-Sit position. Any tricep dips, narrow grip push ups, tricep extension exercise or skull crushers are great ways to strengthen and build muscle through the triceps. So keep those triceps nice and strong to keep a solid L-Sit
Pushing the shoulders and scapulae down and pressing them into the ground or paralettes will help elevate you off the ground during an L-Sit. This allows us to incorporate muscular tension throughout the upper body, and helps us to round the shoulders and recruit in the pectoral muscles as well. A great drill for this is sitting on the floor between the parallettes and keeping your arms still and straight, elevate yourself off the ground and control the negative back down. Almost like a straight arm Tricep Dip. Ring Dips, Straight Bar Dips, Scapula Shrugs and Weighted Shrugs are all great exercises to help you here.
A solid grip on the paralettes is key to mastering a L-sit, before progressing to placing your hands flat on the floor to do it. Any drills that help our fingers to flex and extend will help us achieve that solid grip. Also as you are putting substantial pressure through the grip in an L-Sit, make sure you have warmed up your wrists thoroughly before starting.
Leg + Glute Tension
Glute tension and leg tension are often forgotten when it comes to the L-Sit, as a lot of people tend to think it only involves upper body tension. However without that leg and glute tension, it’s impossible to elevate yourself correctly. A great cue for helping with this, is to squeeze your knees together and point your toes. Once you have that, squeeze your bum. If your quads start to cramp, you’re doing it right. Tension and rigidity are key for the lower body, so keep on working those legs. Squats, Deadlifts, Nordic Curls, Razor Curls and lunges will help strengthen your legs for those peak L-Sits!
We can then progress toward the V-Sit; where your compress your legs almost to your head. And for an ultimate test, the Manna. The Manna compression is like that of a V-Sit but you rotate further round on your shoulders, so that your toes point behind you. The Manna is the ultimate progression of the L-Sit and is a peak level skill.
Also you can add the L-Sit into other skills, such as pull ups, for L-Sit Pull Ups. Or you can move from L-Sit to Press to Handstand. The L-Sit Compression can also help you to learn to forward roll on the rings and perform Skin The Cats! The possibilities go on and on!
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