THE PISTOL SQUAT PROGRESSION LADDER

EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: FRONT SUPPORT-L-SIT

 

HOW TO DO IT
STAND BETWEEN THE BARS, GRIP WITH YOUR THUMB AROUND THE BAR – otherwise you might slide off and I might laugh at you.

SPIN YOUR BICEPS FORWARDS, LOCK YOUR ARMS – imagine your arms are as long as possible, get them stretched and locked out. Your elbow pit should be pointing forward and possibly feeling a stretch (in your bicep tendon thing).

PUSH YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN AND FORWARDS – you should have a long neck, but your chin tucked down slightly. Get your shoulders down and create as much space between shoulders and ears as possible.

TURN ON THE POWER – by pushing down through the bars actively (almost as if you are about to lift your whole body up with your arms).

SQUEEZE YOUR KNEES TOGETHER – this helps you control the move, make it look good and activate your abs more.

LIFT YOUR KNEES – keeping your upper body still, your arms locked and strong, whilst pushing down through the bars at all times, with your knees squeezed together, you’re going to bend your knees and suck them up as close to your stomach as possible.

HOLD! – Here we want to feel the neck long and relaxed, shoulder blades down and slightly protracted (shoulders slightly forwards innit), elbows locked and abs working hard. Keep testing to see how high you can bring your knee things.

IF YOU CAN, STRAIGHTEN YOUR LEGS – for some, the above is the progression. work to a 10-second hold, then wok to get a neater and neater hold. However, if you’re strong enough, it’s time to straighten your legs. focus on keeping your arms long and strong, then reach your feet out across the room. Think about length in the legs; don’t think about trying to lift the feet. Again: hold! Duration of course depends on your specific programme, if in doubt, I like 10-seconds as a target, once you can do it focus on improving your position.

HOW NOT TO DO IT, AND HOW TO FIX IT IF IT GOES WRONG
YOU GOT NO NECK – i.e. you fail to hold your shoulders down. As strength runs out, or you get sloppy, you get sloppy and ‘sink down’ so that it looks like you have no neck! Naughty. The Fix: Push down harder on the bars, fight to keep your shoulders down. If you can’t hold them there, stop the set and build up strength over time. This is one of those happy moments where the fix is simple: try harder; get stronger; reduce challenge in the meantime.

YOU CAN’T HOLD LOCKED ARMS – Mostly, as above. If you’re not used to gymnastic endevours, this arm position can be tough to hold. If you’re very tight (particularly through your massive biceps boys), then this may be very tricky at first. If you’re very weak, then of course your arms will want to bend as soon as you take these on and you’ll have to work consistently to get the strength required to hold the pose. The Fix: as above: pay attention, build the strength carefully, don’t get ahead of yourself and you’ll build the strength. A bit of bicep stretching as well as curling should help with the tightness issue.

YOU FALL OFF BACKWARDS – ah the old floor flaw. Common in the over-enthusiastic, under-experienced gentlemen: you come off too early, and not at all how you intended. This tends to happen when you try and do too much work with your arms (by pushing your pelvis forward) and your abs and hip-flexors struggle to lift your legs and tuck your pelvis back. The Fix: curb your ambition–just temporarily–and focus on making sure the majority of the leg lifting is coming from your abs and hip flexors. If youe abs are way behiond your upper body, add nin extra sets of hollow-extensions and gymnastic style leg raises to help them get closer to your amazing upper body strength.

YOU CAN’T STRAIGHTEN YOUR LEGS – common if we don’t have enough strength, or we don’t have enough hamstring flexibility. Begginners often succumb to a bent legged fate. Although dominating the tucked position, many find they can’t get their legs locked as they extend them. This is often coupled with that ridiculously painful quad cramp feeling. The fix: short-term either do it one leg at a time, or concentrate on getting locked legs, but on a lower angle, with your feet closer to the floor. Longterm: Get Stronger! Practice this drill itself, and work on your hollow-extensions and gymnastic style leg raises.

PROGRESSIONS/REGRESSIONS
WICKED CUES
PUSH THE BARS THROUGH THE FLOOR – just a mental prompt that you need to actively push down through the arms, especially if you have ‘no neck’ as discussed above.

TILT PELVIS BACK – that’s how we work the lower abs and bring the knees higher.

REACH LEGS OUT – many enthusiastic punters–in an un-wise attempt to impress onlookers–try to lift their legs as high as they can during their L-Sit…by trying to lift their legs as high as they can. Sadly, this often ends up with an unimpressive, droopy-leggy looking thing, with the legs not locked out. We must first encourage a reaching out of the legs, and then and only then do we try to hold the legs at more impressive angles.

SUCK ABS IN – Which will help make room and encourage a lifting and posterior tilting of your pelvis.

CHIN DOWN, PULL YOUR KNEES TO YOUR CHIN – You can look straight ahead on these, but for beginners, we encourage a tuck so that we can concentrate on bringing the knees close to the chin (to activate the abs. This also prvents beginners from staring around the room like a maniac.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?
HAPPY TRICEPS: L-Sits hammer your triceps. They have to be really strong to hold you off the ground and keep your arms completely straight. Pair this with some heavy pressing (push-ups, shoulder press, triceps push ups, bench press etc) and you’ll have great arms.

YOU’LL GET GREAT ABS!: we all want great abs, and this is one sure-fire way to get there. Put simply, if you haven’t hit strong abs, you won’t have a good L-Sit. You’ll want some dynamic an exercises as well, but the strength demand of doing an L-Sit well, will trump the need for loads of crunches/silly little ab exercises; if you can do this well, you’ll have great abs.

YOU’LL GET STRONG HIP FLEXORS: valuable muscles which work in concert with your abs on an L-Sit. Particularly important muscle to keep strong if you want to be athletic. This is a good thing.

GOOD STUFF HAPPENS IN YOUR UPPER BACK – an often neglected area, which gets nicely worked here it takes real strength to hold your shoulders down as you bring your knees up and then extend your legs.

YOU CAN BUILD REAL STRENGTH ANYWHERE: this is another one of those bodyweight drills that actually takes A LOT of strength, but can be done anywhere. Useful. You’ll have to lose the bars and do it on a chair-like thing of course, or get strong enough to do it on the floor, but it’s always easy to find something to do it on, no matter where you are.

IT’S GOT COOL PROGRESSIONS: Once you’re really strong, you can pair your L-Sit with all sorts of drills like a Planche, Frog or Handstand to make really impressive looking combos).

HOW IT GOES WRONG AND HOW TO FIX IT
ARMS NOT LOCKED – usually from a lack of strength, often from a lack of awareness but sometimes from a lack of mobility. Don’t build time in this position until you can get the perfect arm position – otherwise when you try to improve it can feel like going back to start all over again. To Fix it, practice a few reps of just setting up the arm position by rotating and straightening the elbows, then bend again, then set up again. Learn what it feels like, then learn to do the exercise without losing position.

CAN’T GET UP – This happens sometimes. Lean forwards slightly as you initiate the push. If you can’t do it, keep practicing and build some arm strength – push ups for starters.

CAN’T STRAIGHTEN LEGS – This is very common and is why this basic L-Sit position can be easier for beginners than the real thing. Iy is usually from a lack of strength in the lower abs, hip flexor and even quadriceps. It is occasionally (gentlemen) because your hamstrings are too tight and won’t relax enough to let you perform the move. Often, it can be just because you jumps on too quickly and don’t realise your doing it wrong.

The Fix – Make sure your hamstrings are flexible enough, be mindful of what it should feel like, practice straightening your legs in an easier position (legs lower), then work on your Pretend V-Up, Dish and Hollow Body….these will help you build the desired strength and awareness. Also – use the ‘Cramp Quads’ cue below.

NO NECK – This is common on almost everything, but seems to happen a lot on these thus warrants a mention in my humble opinion. Its partly a natural way to go when it’s hard, its partly lack of awareness and focus. If you feel your shoulders hiked and neck tense and crowded, take a little step back, work on netting your shoulders down BEFORE you lift off. Then build strength in this position.

NO CONTROL – Your pumped up for your best effort, you want to master this, you set your arms, you set your posture, you lean forward and push off – then your hips are all over the place and you wobble around like Nutter. Happen to you? No?… good. Yes? – it will pass with practice and positional awareness. Make sure your body is tight, you lean forwards slightly and control the movement with the stomach. Can’t feel any stomach muscle? – You’re not in control.

WICKED CUES
PUSH THE CHAIR THROUGH THE FLOOR – Simple, but effective. Don’t try to lift your body. It all comes from pressing down hard.

STRETCH THE BICEP TENDON – It takes a while to get used to this gymnastic straight arm position, especially if you’ve wrongly been taught that you shouldn’t lock out your joints. If you are locked at the elbow and have the slight external rotation that we want, you should be able to feel a stretch in the Bicep Tendon (the distal bit – the bit over your elbow). Stretch it and hold it throughout the manoeuvre.

Knees Up, Chin Down – This is an abdominally focused thing. The abs flex the body. If we bring the knees up, and there chin down, it will encourage them to work as we want. It will also de-courage the forcing of the chin up which is all too common and all too bad for your neck.

Cramp the Quads! – When you do these for the first time, it’s quite the experience. Your quads – not used to being in this position under load, feel like they are hoping to cramp. It can be excruciating, briefly. Then when folks often let their legs bend very slightly. But we don’t want that, so remember this feeling and focus on encouraging it while straightening your legs on this. It’s never as bad as it is at first, but the thought can help you to improve your leg position.

PROGRESSIONS
Bring your legs higher

Do L-Sit on bars or from the floor

Bring your hips forward

REGRESSIONS
Single Leg

Dish, hollow,

V Up

Legs Hang Down

WHY DO IT
This is both a truly effective full body exercise that takes strength, mobility and skill, but it’s also completely scalable from that which a completely out of shape 60 plus year old beginner could do to that which could challenge some of the worlds finest human animals. Thus you could have a long and happy journey with these.

I particularly like these as they are no equipment/next to no equipment so you can do them anywhere.

You will feel your Triceps and Abs working overtime on these – both very important and very popular. They will also strengthen your shoulder blade area working muscles such as the Lower Traps and Rhomboids to hold you in position, as well as require good range of motion in the Hamstrings – so it will give you reason to stretch.

So, they work loads of good stuff, will help you get ripped arms and Abdominal, plus they have loads of great gymnastic progressions that will inspire you to aspire to. Should be good enough to make you do it!

Plus, I’m telling you to do it.

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