L-Sit Progression: Tutorial and Training Plan

When it comes to fundamental bodyweight feats of strength, it’s hard to beat the L-Sit.

But even if you’re already quite strong, the L-Sit is really challenging because it’s not just about strength. Yes, you need strength throughout your body (basically from head to toe), but you also need a fair amount of flexibility and control to perform it well.

Don’t let that scare you off, though. The L-Sit is absolutely achievable if you follow the steps I’ll show you below. Plus, since it builds full-body strength and control it’s a great complement to whatever your primary training goals may be.

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L-Sit Progressions: 6 Steps to Success

The biggest mistake people make with the L-Sit is they try to just jump right into it by throwing their legs out in front of them, only to find: L-Sits are a helluva lot harder than they look!

By breaking it down into manageable steps, though, you’ll make good progress.

Here are the progressions I’ve been teaching my students for years. They’ve helped a lot of people master the L-Sit when they didn’t think it was possible.

Just a quick note: Although I demonstrate the progressions using parallettes in this video, you do not need p-bars to work on the L-Sit. As I’ll explain further in this article, you can use rings or the floor just as well.

Here are the progressions covered in this video:

1. Both Feet on the Ground

Keeping your feet on the ground, practice pushing your hands down, with your shoulders away from your ears. Make sure to keep your butt directly beneath your shoulders.

This first progression is going to help you get the proper positioning in the upper body, which will help you with later progressions.

2. Bringing One Foot off the Ground

Start in the position you just worked on, with your feet on the ground. Bring one foot off the ground at a time, maintaining the angle in your knee and pointing your toes. Just bring the foot up slightly.Keep the chest up–don’t lean your chest forward to meet your knee.Make sure to practice on both feet.

With this progression, you’ll start to get a feel for putting a bit more weight through your arms, and maintaining proper positioning with fewer points of support.

3. Tuck Position

The next step is the tuck. Work on bringing both feet up at once. If you have trouble with this, first work on coming on to your toes and working on bringing one leg up at a time, until you can get into a full tuck position.

This progression is where you’ll really start to feel how your entire body is engaged in this skill (if you’re doing it right).

4. Slight Leg Extension

From the tuck position, work on extending one leg at a time. The key here is not to try to fully extend your leg at first. Just widen the angle of your knee, and work on that over time.

Working on this progression will help you strengthen the positioning of the legs, getting you ready for the full L-Sit.

5. Single Leg Extension

Now, you’ll work on fully extending one leg at a time, slowly and with control.Try to hold each side for at least 5 seconds.

This is the final progression before you reach the full L-Sit, and it’s an important step in the process. You’ll see how fully extending even one leg can throw off your balance, so be sure to move with control–don’t muscle through it!

6. Full L-Sit

You made it! You’re now ready to work on the full L-Sit, extending both legs at a time while keeping the rest of your body solidly in position.Don’t worry if this position still takes some time to feel comfortable with. Just be patient with yourself and work through it slowly.

If you work through these progressions as recommended, you will make progress toward the L-Sit, but because the strength and positioning required for this skill is so different from what most people are used to, it can be helpful to work on some supplemental exercises.

In the following section, we’ll go over some additional exercises you can work on, depending on where you’re having the most trouble.

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Supplemental Exercises to Ramp Up Your Progress

As you’ll discover when you start working on L-Sits, this is a skill that challenges pretty much every part of your body, from your shoulders to your toes.

Since we’re all coming from different backgrounds and abilities, you may struggle with one part of it more than another. For some people, the upper body strength and stability is the biggest challenge, while for others, the biggest struggle is keeping the legs elevated and locked out.

Whatever is most challenging for you, the following exercises should help you out.

Supplemental Upper Body Exercises

If you just can’t seem to get the hang of having your upper body support yourself in this way, the following exercises will help.

Exercise Description
Top Position Hold • This can be performed on the rings or on dip bars
• Hold for up to 20 seconds, for a total of 3-5 holds
Dip Shrugs • Start at the top of the dip movement, and lower your body while keeping your elbows locked straight, then push up again to get your body up tall, and your shoulder blades pushed down. Note that this is not a full dip, but a shrugging of your shoulders up to your ears, then pressing down.
• Do 10-15 reps for 3-5 sets
Pulling Prep • Perform this move as shown in this video
• Do 10-15 reps for 3-5 sets
Dips • Perform these with a focus on straightening your arms at the top and keeping your chest tall.
• Do 10-12 reps for 3-5 sets

Supplemental Lower Body and Core Exercises

If the demand on the lower body and core strength are holding you back in your L-Sit progress, try adding in the following exercises.

Exercise Description
Front Scale • This unique movement simulates the quad and hip flexor positioning of the L-Sit in a standing position.
• Perform holds of 5-10 seconds on each leg for 3-5 sets
Hanging Knee Raises • Using a pull-up bar or dip bars, lift both knees up to your chest and hold for 5 seconds
• Do 10-12 reps for 3-5 sets
• For extra work, maintain scapular depression by pushing hard through the dip bars, or keeping the pull-up prep position on the bar for the duration of the set.
Hanging Single Straight Leg Raise • Using a pull-up bar or dip bar, keep your knee locked out straight and raise it as high as possible while keeping the locked position, and hold for 5 seconds.
• Do 10-12 reps for 3-5 sets
Hanging Double Straight Leg Raise • This is the hardest variation of this exercise. Keep your knees locked out straight throughout the movement, and you’ll see how tough this exercise is, and how it can make your L-Sit very strong.
• Do 10-12 reps for 3-5 sets

Troubleshooting and Key Points for the L-Sit

As you work toward the full L-Sit, and really, no matter what level you’re starting from, keep in mind the following key ideas.

Positioning Cues for the L-Sit

Doing an exercise with proper form is not just for looking pretty–though that helps! The technical details below ensure your entire body is also aligned and working as a unit.

There are a lot of details I could mention, but it ultimately comes down to the following key points:

We discuss the reasoning behind each of these points in this podcast, but if you follow the exercises and progressions listed above, it will be enough to keep these points in mind as you practice.

Practicing L-Sits on the Rings vs. Floor vs. Parallettes

As you’ve likely seen, you can perform the L-Sit either directly on the floor, or supported on parallettes or rings. Each has its own challenges and benefits, but which one is best to work with?

In this video, I’ll show you the differences between performing the L-Sit on the rings vs. the floor vs. the parallettes:

Bottom line: You can practice L-Sits on any of these surfaces and you’ll get all the benefits from training L-Sits.

With that said, many people do like starting their practice using parallettes, for two primary reasons:

The parallettes relieve some of the pressure on the wrists.One of the common issues we hear is that people think their “arms are too short” to perform L-Sits. In most cases, it’s just an issue of not pressing hard enough. The parallettes make it easier to get the feel for the pressing motion necessary for this skill.

If, however, you don’t have parallettes available, by all means, practice on the ground. Just focus on pressing those shoulders down!

Flexibility Holding You Back?

If you work through the progressions and build the strength you need for the L-Sit, you may find you still have some flexibility restrictions holding you back. Here are the most common issues and how to address them:

Tight Hamstrings–This is definitely the most common issue, and it can prevent you from fully extending your legs. Click here to see how to fix your tight hamstrings.Tight Shoulders–If you have trouble pressing your shoulders down due to limited mobility, work on our daily shoulder mobility routine to fix that issue.Tight Back–As we’ve iterated throughout this tutorial, keeping the back straight is important for proper positioning in the L-Sit. If you can’t do that, spend some time on our spinal mobility routine to get your back moving the way it needs to.


Programming L-Sits into Your Routine

I recommend training the L-Sit at least three days a week, either before your regular training session as part of your warm-up, or on its own.

Start with stretching the areas that you need to (if flexibility is an issue for you).Then practice the progressions in the L-Sit video above, up to the most difficult level you can do, for 3-5 sets of 5 seconds at that level.Next, move on to the supplementary strength exercises. Pick two for the upper body and two for the core and lower body. Rotate through the exercises until you hit the ones that are the most difficult for you, then focus on those to make your L-sit as solid as possible.

Working through it in this manner will help you gain the strength and control for a perfect L-Sit.

Plus, you’ll gain a lot from practicing this skill in conjunction with your other training. You’ll improve your strength and control, which will only make you better at everything else you’re doing.

Get All the Benefits of the L-Sit

The L-Sit is a great example of a bodyweight exercise with a lot of benefits. All the little details of proper form and technique require good concentration and awareness of what’s going on with your body, so this position teaches you so much more than just going through the motions.

Our Integral Strength program will help you master the L-Sit and many other bodyweight strength skills in the context of a logical, well-designed program. You’ll build good pressing and straight arm strength, along with explosive strength and endurance. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun in the process 🙂

Build Total Body Strength

Integral Strength will help you build the kind of strength that carries over into demanding physical skills and dynamic sports. All you need is a pull-up bar and a bit of floor.

Integral Strength Details

Integral Strength

Build Practical Strength with Bodyweight Exercises

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