The L-Sit

The L-sit is a classic isometric exercise that works your entire body, emphasizing the abdominal muscles.

In order to perform an L-sit, you’ll need a strong core, strong arms and better than average flexibility in your hamstrings.

I recommend learning the L-sit by practicing on parallel bars or push-up bars (although you can practice this move with no equipment).

If you have bars, begin by holding yourself upright, like you would at the top of a parallel bar dip. Then start raising your legs straight out in front of you until they are parallel to the ground. Your body will wind up looking sort of like the letter “L” (hence “L-sit”). If you can’t get to this position right away, practice with your knees bent to work your way up to the full position.

Exercises like planks and side planks are also a great way to help build core strength. I recommend practicing them concurrently or as a precursor to the L-sit. If your abs are strong and you’re still having trouble doing an L-sit, tight hamstrings might be what is preventing you. A consistent stretching regimen can gradually loosen your hamstrings, but it will require patience and diligence.

If you don’t have bars or handles, you can try working your L-sit on the ground. Bear in mind that this is more challenging due to the fact that you have less leeway to lift into the hold.

Begin with your palms flat or try holding yourself up on your fingertips. Once you can hold a full L-sit for 30 seconds, you are ready to progress to harder core exercises like front levers, back levers and the infamous human flag.

Watch the video below for more!

33 thoughts on “The L-Sit

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  • By brooki -

    Do you think the triceps dip bars at the gym will work for this as well? We don't have push up bars at my gym. I sometimes hang off the chin up bar and hold my legs up and it burns but in a good way 😉

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Yes you can do an L-sit on any parallel bar set-up. You can also do a modified version while hanging from a pull-up bar. You can even hold the L while you do pull-ups for an extra challenge. Get creative! :)

  • By iawia003 -

    this can be promoted to a more difficult and more worthwhile level. just put your legs high. I saw Bruce Lee can put his feet about more than 1 feet higher than his head. amazin.

  • By iawia003 -

    and that can be called a V-sit ,or even a √ .i suppose

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  • By redge -

    Hi from France ! the laterals abs are working during an L-sit ? who many rest are necessary for abs ? can I work all the day and several times a day ?
    thank you !

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hi Redge – This exercise works the entire body, especially the abdominals and (to a lesser extent) the obliques (lateral abs). Feel free to practice them several times throughout the day if you like.

    • By redge -

      Thanks to answer me so quikly. Bodyweight workout is new for me, so I ask to myself so many questions about rest !
      Your blog is great ! Bye

  • By Jeremy Squiers -

    I love this exercise — best core move in my opinion.  Thank you for this article.

    -J
    fittimestwo.com

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      It’s a good one!  Glad you liked the article.

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  • By Rob White -

    Hey Al. I just read the Trifecta part of CC2. Loved it.
    I was wondering, have you ever worked on the progressions up from L-Sits, such as V-Sits (here’s an awesome pic of Bruce Lee doing a V-Sit http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_WLfu_ImGDBg/SOQiG3ns4ZI/AAAAAAAACRY/J2Vbsm15PXE/S660/godstandout.jpg), or dare i say it, the full Manna position? http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_2f3AywUkdDM/TG7ImlvRPmI/AAAAAAAAAbQ/t53hlogia_k/s1600/manna.jpeg 

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I can do a V-sit, though not nearly as deep as Bruce Lee goes in that photo.  The Manna, however, is way out of reach for me.

  • By Bowser -

    I’m going to buy a push up bar cos it’s impossible for me to do it just on the floor! 

    I guess I have enough strength to keep my body up the floor but I have to focus on my core to lift my legs!!!Really good blog and vids mate! I’m a big fan of u!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Bowser!  Floor L-sits are quite challenging!

  • By Michelvandenhoek -

    Wow you have this listed as a level 3 skill? Because I could do this right on the first attempt, I assumed it was “Normal” and “Nothing special”. I like doing this as a substitute for leg raises because the time you can hold it is not limited by your grip strength like it is when you do it hanging from a bar.

    If you do not have parallel bars, I recommend doing it between two kitchen chairs. A more challenging option is doing it on gymnastic rings.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      You’ve got a good base of core strength if L-sits were easy for you right away! 

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  • By Anonymous -

    Hi Al, is there any way I can get more ‘height’ on the l sit? I lift my legs up and my backside’s barely off the ground.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Try keeping your arms closer to your sides.  And of course practice, practice, practice!

      • By Anonymous -

        Haha. Practice, practice, practice … that goes without saying, right? Thanks for the tip though.

  • By Kai -

    I don’t have bars and it is slightly difficult for me to get off the ground. Do you think I could stack some books side to side and do my L seat like that?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Way to get creative!  That should work just fine!

  • By Misfittroy -

    Any specific stretches to help with extending your legs during the L-sit?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      This one’s pretty good: http://www.alkavadlo.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/DSC06656.jpg

  • By Chriswhitley73 -

    This L-Sit is killing me, i can’t get my legs up, & i can sometimes do them with one leg extended*, how long does it usually take to progress? & can the 1-arm push up help U master any other body excersies because i have pretty much mastered it & i can do the heel touching 1 arm* any advice?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Keep practicing, keep stretching and be patient.  Do not underestimate the difficulty of the L-sit!

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  • By kOrsanX -

    Holy nipples of Poseidon! I just managed my first 10 seconds of an L-sit on the floor. Just a month ago I could barely hold a sit with bent knees on a stool (CC2, Step 1) Effort breeds success. Feels great :)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Congrats! Keep it up!

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