We are so used to training the abdominals through repetitive spinal flexion and extension that when we incorporate an exercise that requires a static position we second guess its effects. That is until you try the L-sit. It is the easiest looking, least intimating core exercise that I know. I have seen younger women master this exercise while I have seen it make grown men cry.
As we know it, the L-sit place the spine in flexion. Although to a smaller degree it is evident when you focus your eyes on the athletes look back. You notice more of around than you do an arch. In gymnastics, we define this as a “hollow body” state. Its a rigid, stable, and entirely safe position for the spine.
The problem is that because this position is rarely ever trained holding this position for 60seconds at a time is impossible. That is where effective, yet challenging regressions are useful.
1.Parallettes (P.Bar) or Boxes?
The chief complaint comes from the difficulty of keeping the legs of the ground. On the P. Bar, the room for error is small. A lack of flexibility in the hamstring and mobility int he hip flexors are the leading cause of strain. For these athletes, the box modification is best suited for them so they can focus more on bracing the abs and legs time to pray your feet do not touch the ground.
2. Where to place your legs?
In a perfect world, everyone can point their toes and fully extend the knees. This rarely happens. Adjusting the levers, based on where an athlete places their legs while in the static position is crucial because you want them to be able to find a version that challenges them yet allows them to stay up for 20-30 seconds at a time. The three options we use are: double knee tuck, semi-tuck (one knee tuck, one leg pointed), or both legs fully extended.
3. Applying Time Under Tension
Ultimately being able to fully extend the legs for a few seconds is pointless. There isn’t enough stimulus to affect positive change in strength and or stability. Finding the correct modification based on #1 and #2 is ultimately predicted by their ability to keep their feet off the floor for at least 20-30 seconds at a time.
4. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Very few people can set up on a parallette and hold 60 seconds or longer on their first try. It takes repetitious practice like any other skill. Mastering this will make situps feel like a big waste of time.