Primary: Abs, grip
Secondary: Lats, Hip Flexors
The L-sit hold is a powerful core strengthening exercise that develops isometric strength in the abs and grip, improved body awareness, and hanging skills necessary for more advanced movements.
L-sit training falls under a form of training called Isometric (static) strength training. Isometric exercises, involve holding specific movements in position that lengthen the muscle while forcing a “static” paused position in which there is no visible movement at the joint at any movement during the set.
This form of training elicits improvement in strength, flexibility, and control while drastically reducing high volume repetition work of traditional strength training. Isometric exercises can also be completed with submaximal body weight exercises which makes it very versatile for all ages and abilities.
The progression below is the most logical L-sit series our coaches have developed to seamlessly and progressively challenge our members based on their current abilities.
Box Assisted L-sit Hold: Health (beginner)
It is most likely that a beginner will lack the requisite grip strength required to hang on a pull-up bar for 30 seconds per set. They are not genetic anomalies in which they will never get able to perform L-sits. The issue is that their strength-to-body weight ratios are too far apart. A severe lack of strength and being overweight is not conducive for hanging. The goal should be to get their strength up and weight down. In the meantime box L-sit progressions are a great modification to build mid-line strength. It would also be helpful to have them specifically train their grip with farmers carries, neutral grip heavy deadlift holds, etc.
Hanging L-Sit: Fitness (intermediate)
This can be performed three ways from easiest to hardest. This includes; double bent knee, alternating, and both feet pointed. If they can’t hold onto the bar for at least 20 seconds they will need to perform these on 30in elevated boxes. At this point, they lack the requisite grip strength and/or overweight. Get their strength up and weight down in the meantime.
Medicine Ball L-sit: Performance (Advanced)
This progression will require a partner because they will need to help each other add load onto the thigh or shins depending on their strength. This can also be performed with a double bent knee for those lacking hamstring flexibility.
It is very important that you engage your lats to help counterbalance the load. Adding odd objects like a medicine ball not only do you get the benefit of the weighted L-sit but you also have to focus on keeping the ball balanced on your legs. The next logical progression would be to perform these exercises while also performing an L-pull up.
Traditional strength training routines prescribed volumes based on the number of sets and repetitions (ex: 5×5, 4×8, 5×12). The equivalent in isometric training references the length of time each action is held per set Research has measured both longer duration(i.e. 10 seconds or above) and fewer repetitions, and shorter duration actions (i.e. 2-3 seconds) with more repetitions. Both approaches seem to increase static strength.
A common training volume that we use in group training consists of:
- Starting in the L-sit position with arms fully extended and hip at 90°. The client works with the coach to find the L-sit progression that best meets their current capacity.
- Once they have their movement practice during skill session, we set a timer and ask them to hold this position 20 seconds and a time reminding them to “breathe and brace at the same time”. This in itself feels like skill work for beginners and a necessary requirement of all high intensity programs.
- We repeat 4-7 times based on the Skill of The Day.
- Each time we come back to this movement we add more time and sets effectively adding more total volume. This is known as time under tension (TUT) and where all strength comes from.