Most people struggle to do an L-Sit. It is a difficult skill that takes a lot of shoulder strength and mobility, let alone what it does to your core.
If you are looking to make your L-Sit harder then you are already doing well, but there is always another step forward that you could take.
What you need to remember is this:
If you can hold an L-Sit for 20 or 30 seconds, you need a harder exercise, because the L-Sit is too easy!
Once you can hold your L-Sit comfortably, it is no longer doing anything to push the needle forward.
This is where the variations really help because they will take a skill that is already challenging, and make it even harder!
There are really only a handful of Variations of L-Sit, however they can be made easier or harder depending on WHERE you do your L-Sit. Still these variations can be used to take your core strength to levels most people can’t imagine.
The 3 Ways To Do An L-Sit
L-Sit 1 – Floor
L-Sits on the floor are pretty obvious, you are supported with your hands on the floor without any support from dipping bars or parallettes or yoga blocks or anything else.
This is definitely the hardest form of L-Sit because of the required shoulder mobility, core strength and overall tension required.
L-Sit 2 – Supported
An L-Sit in Support is just the term for when you are supporting your body weight on something.
It is a gymnastics term but it helps to differentiate between doing an L-Sit on Dipping Bars or Parallettes, compared to on the floor.
L-Sit 3 – Hanging
Hanging is kind of obvious, You will hold the L-Sit position hanging from a bar rather than supported or on dipping bars.
Personally I think this is the easiest way to do an L-Sit.
Each of these variations can be done in any of the three, and some are harder one way, and easier another.
Throughout this page I will let you know which position is easier for which variation, so you can find the best one to do based on your skill level and what equipment you have available to you.
L-Sits can also be done on the rings!
This is harder than the floor to get perfect because the rings take a lot more energy to stabilize, however they would also come under the ‘support’ category.
Ring L-Sits are great for training and are also a very impressive looking skill if you can get them solid. For now we are going to leave Ring L-Sits out of the equation because a lot of these dynamic variations cannot be done in support on the rings, although they could be done hanging.
Isometrics are holds, it’s the fancy term yes, but it is an important distinction to make.
Even though you can hold a position, you can still have a dynamic element of a skill, making it a dynamic variation not an isometric variation.
Variation 1 – Straddle L-Sit
Straddle is a difficult position to hold an L-Sit.
This is a different position to a Straddle Sit, where you have your legs outside your arms. With a straddle L-Sit you will be trying to get into a straddle position with your legs inside your arms.
This presents a completely different challenge and will require you to lean back in order to get your hips into the right position to split your legs.
This variation is definitely easiest in a hang rather than support or on the floor. This is because your arms aren’t in the way of your hips, making the straddle hold much simpler.
Variation 2 – Single Leg L-Sit
Single Leg L-Sits are technically a progression but they can still make really great variations especially when you are linking shapes together.
This could be like a press to handstand or a press to crow, you could be trying to work on a slight imbalance, there are loads of reasons you could want to use a single leg variation instead of a full lay.
Single Legs are hardest on the floor, it is so easy to let your foot come down and as soon as it is on the floor it is essentially taking your bodyweight.
Hanging or on dipping bars are much easier because you don’t have to work so hard with your tucked leg to keep it elevated.
Variation 3 – Tuck L-Sit
Like the Single leg, this is technically a progression but if you have ever trained tuck L-Sits on the floor you will know that they also present their own unique challenges to your shoulders and core. They are definitely worth including in your programming.
Tucks are easiest hanging, again, but are also simple in support, because your feet can be below horizontal.
If you are doing this exercise as a variation rather than a progression, I would recommend doing it on the floor to force you to work harder!
Variation 4 – Russian Lever / V-Sit
The Russian Lever or V-Sit is a more advanced variation of L-Sit. It takes a lot more strength and control than the L-Sit, especially core compression.
To do a V-Sit you need to raise your legs to vertical, pushing your hips right through your arms and leaning back enough to achieve it.
People often mistake the V in V-Sit to be the shape you are aiming to create but it actually stands for Vertical Sit.
The Image here is of my imperfect V-Sit (It isn’t vertical at all).
It takes a lot of energy and focus to get the V-Sit, and for most people, a lot of core compression drills.
This is an advanced skill for sure!
Variation 5 – Manna
If you thought the V-Sit was hard, this is going to blow your mind!
A Manna is the next step after a V-Sit!
To do a Manna you are going to continue lifting your legs and hips so you go past vertical and point your feet back behind you.
This takes impressive shoulder mobility on top of the compression and stability needed for a V-Sit.
Because of the advanced training needed for this skill it is very rarely seen outside of professional gymnastics.
Dynamic Variations include a dynamic element, or a moving part. With an L-Sit this is usually the Legs and Hips, although that isn’t always the case.
Where a lot of the Isometric Variations are also progressions to the full L-Sit, Dynamic Variations are harder, making them great exercises to progress onto once you have mastered the full L-Sit.
Each of these dynamics variations will challenge your core in a different way and will shift the focus of the exercise, to work different muscle groups in your core more than a standard hold.
Variation 6 – Bicycle Kicks
Bicycle kicks are single leg switches. What we are going to do is switch our single legs for reps as if we were pedaling a bicycle.
Set up like you would for a normal L-Sit, the tuck one knee right up into your chest. Now switch legs so the other knee is up in your chest, straightening out the first leg.
Bicycle Kicks are hardest off the floor. Hanging I would say is the simplest, but doing them in support on dipping bars and parallettes also makes it easier than the floor.
Variation 7 – Flutter Kicks
Flutter kicks are a similar variation to bicycle kicks, but you will be keeping your legs straight and hinging from your hips.
Instead of kicking as though you are pedaling a bike, flutter kicks will be similar to you doing backstroke in a swimming pool (although your will be in an L-Sit).
Flutter kicks are easiest in support. I find hanging puts a lot of stress on your shoulders which you don’t really feel doing Bicycle kicks in the same way.
You also can have a greater range of motion this way than on the floor.
Variation 8 – Tuck Twists
Tuck Twists are a great exercise that will challenge your core in a completely different way to the sagittal plane movements above.
For tuck twists you are going to get into a Tuck L-Sit, then rotate to one side taking your knees right out, then come back to the center before turning to the other side.
When you do twists you want to keep your shoulders as central as possible. You might not be able to help just moving slightly, but try to be disciplined with it and control your movement as much as possible.
Tuck twists are definitely easiest hanging. Both the floor and in support are very difficult and will really get your core working hard!
Variation 9 – Pike Twists
Pike twists are similar to tuck twists but you are in a full lay instead of a tuck.
Get into your L-Sit then hold on tight!
Rotate your hips taking your feet right out to one side. Then come back into the center and begin rotating your hips out to the other side.
You want to aim to move in this oscillating motion as far as possible. As you get to your limits you may need to tilt your hips slightly to stop your arms impeding your range of motion.
Just like with Tuck Twists, Pike twists are easiest hanging. You don’t have to worry about your arms getting in the way and instead you can focus on a nice big range of motion.
Variation 10 – Single Leg Lifts
A single leg raise is similar to the single leg compression drill. The difference is that this time you are going to be in an L-Sit.
Get into your L-Sit then lift one leg as high as possible, aim to touch your nose with your knee.
Then bring it back down to the other leg, before lifting your opposite leg up to your nose.
When you do this exercise you will quickly find you need to lean back slightly to help bring your hips forward and get that leg a little higher.
Single Leg raises are easiest hanging, but I would recommend training them in support and on the floor to really develop your core compression and force you to maintain an L-Sit.
Variation 11 – Pike Leg Lifts
This variation of the L-Sit is definitely the hardest. Instead of doing a single leg raise, you are going to lift both legs together.
In your L-Sit, lift both legs as high as possible, aiming for your nose again!
You are going to have to lean a little further back than with the single leg, and really push those hips forward to get your legs nice and high.
The most difficult thing about this exercise is coming back down without losing the L-Sit.
As you come down, you are going to try to keep your hips from swinging back behind your arms. Instead try to keep your hips forward slightly and focus on opening your hips slightly to just bring your legs back down to the L-Sit position.
Yes you are going to do this for reps!
Just like the single raise, pike raises are easiest hanging. For the same reason, I would recommend training them on the floor and in support too! This will really push the limits of your core compression and shoulder stability, making them an awesome training tool!
The L-Sit Mastery Program
These L-Sit Variations give you plenty of exercises you can use to take your core skills to the next level.
But if you are still learning to do an L-Sit or are looking to apply this skill in your training to build your core strength and carve out those abs, then sign up to the L-Sit Mastery Program.
Get a full training program to learn how to master not only the L-Sit, but to learn what it takes to really train your core effectively.
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