EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: L-SIT HOLDS
HOW TO DO IT (THE BASICS)
STAND BETWEEN THE BARS, GRIP WITH YOUR THUMB AROUND THE BAR – otherwise you might slide off and I might laugh at you. Or, if you don’t have bars, you can use a chair.
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, to make it look good and to 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 work to get a neater and neater hold. However, if you’re strong enough, it’s time to straighten your legs. As you do this, 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.
There are loadsa ways you can do these on the way to mastering the L-Sit Progression Ladder. But, basically…
START WITH THE ‘FRONT SUPPORT’ — if you find the L-Sit too tough, start by just loading all the weight into your arms, but without lifting your legs. This is (sort of) the Front Support position in gymnastics, albeit in gymnastics the legs would be straight — most of you won’t have a setup for that, but if you do, great.
If that’s too tough, leave your toes down with a small percentage of the weight still on your feet. Once you build strength you’ll be able to start lifting your feet and eventually brining your knees up and working towards the L-Sit itself.
THEN WORK THROUGH THE L-SIT ON BARS (OR A CHAIR) — until you get to a fairly advanced level. Starting with the Bent-Knee versions, but bringing in the straight leg version as soon as you can, from then on, alternate training sessions between bent-knee and extended leg versions, but, of course (I hope), when you work with bent knees, your knee position will be higher and your hips further forward!
THEN DO SCOOPS — to get used to lifting your bum off the floor (yes, your arms ARE long enough and instructions for Scoops are just below).
THEN DO L SITS ON THE FLOOR — to master the real thing.
As with all the static holds in The Strength Sessions Programme, first calculate the number and duration of your holds, then pick the progression that fits — the one you can just about do perfectly for the target time.
HOW TO DO SCOOPS
These are the only real breakaway from the above ‘how to’ formula. The only other differences are in how extreme your body positions are. For these:
SIT ON MAT — with feet in the air out of the damn way, and your hand things hovering ready.
AGGRESSIVELY PUSH DOWN — and straighten your arms to lift bum in air (wahooo!).
LOCK OUT ARMS — and hold that position for a second ( <– That will take some practice! )
SCOOP YOURSELF FORWARDS — so land with your bum ahead of your hands.
KEEP GOING — For the right amount of reps, however many that may be.
You should be able to do L-Sits nearly anywhere, you don’t need bars like we have in the gym, it should be easy to find a suitable chair or bench or wall to use.
But if you can’t do them, I’d substitute with extra Tuck Planche or Gymnastic style plank work.
WHEN YOU MESS IT UP…
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 super simple (albeit not easy). All I gotta tell you is: try harder, get stronger and reduce the challenge a bit 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: pay more attention, build the strength carefully, and try not to get too greedy too soon you’ll build the strength required to hold good positions soon enough. A bit of bicep stretching 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 your abs are way behind your upper body, add some 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, if we aren’t used to gymnastic drills that requirer the knees to be locked out, 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 try to extend them. This is often coupled with that ridiculously painful quad-cramp feeling. The fix: in the short-term, either do it one leg at a time, or concentrate on getting locked legs, but on an easier 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.
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. We must first encourage a reaching out of the legs until we can get a strong lockout, 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, KNEES UP – 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 prevents beginners from looking around the room like a confused maniac, when they should be conmcentrating on what they’re doing.
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 about to cramp. It can be excruciating, briefly. Then 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.
NO CONTROL – You’re 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 a 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. Control your core, control the move.
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.
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.