The L-sit is a very challenging gymnastic move that requires a lot of full body strength (not just abs and core) to perform properly and hold for any extended period of time.
The floor L-sit is a variation of the classic gymnastic move that is more accessible to the average person because it doesn't require access to rings or parrallel bars in order to perform. It is a good isometric exercise to add in to a workout because of the large numbers of muscles involved in holding this difficult position.
This Guide will look at which muscle groups are involved in holding the position in a floor L-sit exercise
Muscles groups involved
- Core: Unsurprisingly this move places a large amount of tension on your core, because performing the exercise requires you to pull your legs upwards using your abdominals before holding them at parrallel, putting even more stress on your abs
- Hip flexors: Your hip flexors work to pull your hips, and therefore your legs forwards, and up to parallel.
- Legs: Muscles in the quadriceps (front of the leg) as well as the adductors (inner thigh) will be working to pull your legs and hold them there during the exercise.
- Arms: The triceps are heavily involved in keeping your arms locked out and supporting your body whilst holding the L-sit position.
- Fingers and forearms: In the floor L-sit variation, the tendons in your fingers and the muscles in your forearms will be working hard to press you off the floor and hold you there. This gives you the extra clearance you need in order to keep you off of the ground.
There will be very few people in the world who will be able to perform the exercise right off the bat. In most cases specific training and assistance exercises will be required in order to build up the strength, technique and balance to be able to get into the L-sit position and hold it for any significant period of time.
First lets look at the standards you need to hit in order to correctly perform the move.
Standards - In a floor L sit you must:
- Press your body off the floor in order to gain enough clearance from the ground. For Most people this will require you to position yourself on your fingertips rather than on the palms of your hands, unless you have longer arms. Even so, it can be good practice to perform the exercise on fingertips in order to increase your finger and forearms strength.
- Once raised off the ground you need to bring your legs up to roughly a 90 degree angle to your torso (sometimes higher depending on your dimensions and weight distribution), they must be parallel to the floor, not sagging.
- Legs need to be fully extended, and not bent at all at the knee.
- This position should be held for as long as required for your goals.
How to Progress
As outlined in the intro, most trainees will not possess the adequate strength, balance, technique and perhaps even flexibility to perform the floor L-sit to the standard required. You will need to build up these various abilities via assistance exercises and a series of move progressions until you can hold the position. Here are some of the exercises that will help, you can also use my guide on muscle groups worked in an L-sit to identify potential problem areas and work to strengthen them:
Chair dips and assisted dips
These will help those of you whose arms are too weak to lift your body from the floor and hold it there in the first place by strengthening your chest, shoulders and triceps. If you can already perform a couple of reps of full bodyweight parallel dips then you don't need to worry, you are probably good to go. The rest of you should work on your strength using variations of chair dip exercises, or alternatively parallel bars dips with assistance (probably a better option). Keep training until you can successfully support your own bodyweight with your arms without failure.
An exercise for developing some basic strength in your abdominals, hip flexors and quadriceps. Lie on the floor and keeping your legs straight, raise them up to a 90 degree angle with your upper body, then lower and repeat.
Finger push ups
Use finger push ups to strengthen the tendons in your fingers and the muscles in your forearms until holding your bodyweight on your fingertips is no longer an issue. This will help you support your body in the floor L-sit position.
Hanging tucks and tuck hold
Hang from a set of parallel bars and raise your knees up to your stomach, this is called the tuck position where it can either be held or done for reps. Use this as a progression move to build enough strength to move onto hanging straight leg raises and eventually a hanging L-sit.
Hanging Leg raises or hanging L sit
As above with the hanging tuck hold, except you keep yout legs straight through the move, bringing the legs to parallel with the floor, before holding or repeating for reps.
Tuck floor sit
Getting close now, here you will try to hold the tuck position from the floor, supporting your body with your hands. Legs remain bent and tucked in to make the move easier.
One legged Floor L sit
When you have mastered holding the floor tuck position, you are almost at the point where you will be able to manage a full floor L-sit exercise. Hold the tuck position and begin slowly extending one leg at a time. Gradually progressing to getting both legs straight.