Power up your core with this fundamental gymnastic exercise.
Much like the poplar plank position, the L Sit is a bodyweight exercise that works your core muscles and boosts your isometric strength and stability. It involves supporting your body with your arms as you hold your legs straight out in front, floating them off the floor.
Isometric exercises, in case you didn’t already know, involve tensing your muscles without expanding or contracting them, therefore they require more control than power.
At first glance, the L Sit can look a little impossible for beginners, but relax — even difficult exercises can be broken down into simple, achievable steps. In this beginner friendly guide, we’ll take you through a series of L sit progressions. With practice, and less time than you might think, you’ll be able to perform the L Sit with relative ease.
How To Perform the L Sit Progression
Watch our video tutorial below to see how it’s done, but do pay attention to these detailed notes to keep your form right.
- Gather & position your apparatus
Parallettes are ideal for this exercise, but it’s totally understandable that not all of us have these at hand. You can use yoga blocks, kettlebells or even construction blocks! Any two solid, evenly-sized surfaces will do. If you have nothing like this at home at all, you can still try the L-Sit progression using the floor as a support.
Set up your supports just a little bit wider than shoulder width apart.
2. Set your form
- Keep your feet on the floor for now. Straighten your arms and lock your elbows, with the insides of your elbows facing forward. Your hands should be directly below the shoulder.
- Depress your shoulder blades, i.e. bring them down and in towards your spine.
- Retract your shoulders and allow your chest to push out “proudly”.
- Finally, your hips should be below your shoulders or just slightly behind, causing the spine to curve a little.
- Remember, your feet should still be resting on the floor for now.
This is the form you should be keeping for all the following progressions. Between each action, take note of your form and correct where necessary.
3. L-Sit Progression One: Tiptoes
A simple one to begin:
Raise yourself onto your tiptoes, with your knees coming in towards your chest. It’ll vary a little depending on your body type, but the general rule is that your kneecaps should be level with the top of your abdomen.
This tiptoe supported position is your base for the next L Sit Progression, so try not to come back down onto flat feet unless you’re in need of a quick rest and form reset.
4. L-Sit Progression Two: Alternate knee raises
Raise one knee towards the ceiling while keeping your torso position. Lower it and then raise the other.
N.B. Your foot should be coming off the floor as you raise each knee.
Feel free to repeat this alternation 2 or 3 times until you feel you’ve got it right.
Come to rest on your tiptoes again and correct your form if you need.
5. L-Sit Progression Three: Dual knee raise
Next, raise both knees up and hover off the floor for just 2 or 3 seconds. Again, your feet should be off the floor. If you’re using parallettes or an alternative, no part of your body should be touching the floor during this position.
If you can stay in the position, use it as your base for the next progression.
6. L-Sit Progression Four: Alternate leg extension
Draw both knees up again, like in the last progression. Extend one leg straight and then retract it back to the starting position. Next, do the exact same with the other leg.
7. Final L Sit Progression: The Full L Sit!
Lift both knees together, and then extend both legs out straight. Hold for just a second or two, or longer if you feel comfortable, then draw them back in.
Repeat this again and then hold for longer if you can.
Don’t push yourself too far here and risk injuring yourself! Just holding for a few seconds is a great achievement.
At A Glance: The Benefits of the L Sit Progression
- Full body workout with a focus on the core
This is a workout for your whole body, but the particular muscles that it targets are the abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, quads, triceps, forearms, scapular muscles, pecs, anterior deltoids and finally, the lats.
That’s some impact for one exercise!
- Improved “midline” health and stability
The midline, as you might imagine, is simply the central vertical line through your body. In even simpler terms, it’s your spine and the muscles that support it. The L-sit progression strengthens these muscles, which in turn stabilizes the spine. This pays dividends further down the line when it comes to dealing with weights or sudden directional changes.
- Isometric strength – a key for body control and gymnastic actions
As we mentioned at the top of this article, isometric exercises use muscle tension with no extension or contraction. Most of us can show feats of explosive strength in the very short term, but isometric actions require control. The L-Sit progression therefore, is a great way to enable your body to maintain controlled strength when managing weights (such as squatting and deadlifting), and also for building the kind of control required to perform more advanced gymnastic actions.
What If I’m Struggling to Complete the L Sit Progression?
If you can only complete the first one or two progressions, that’s just fine!
Continue to work the stages you can do and they’ll become much easier. With growing control and comfort in one stage of the progression, the next becomes much more attainable.
We say it time and time again: Completing these exercises is not our goal. Our goal is to improve our control over our bodies!
Attempting each L Sit Progression above is another step towards training our muscles to do just that.
We hope you’ve learned something new by reading and watching. If so, give it a share and spread the word. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment!