It feels like it’s taken forever, but I can finally hold an L-sit for a few seconds (on a good day). If you’re struggling with it too, hopefully this post can help.
This guide is focused more on strength than flexibility, since that’s what I was lacking. But hamstring flexibility can be a blocker for many people when it comes to getting the legs actually fully straight. The simplest exercise you can practice to improve that is a seated or standing forward fold.
Another factor to keep in mind is your body composition, which will affect the difficulty. If you have long or heavy legs compared to your torso, you’ll likely find it harder. However, keep in mind it’s never impossible, it just takes longer to achieve.
For L-sit form, the goal is to have your legs completely straight in front of you, parallel to the floor (or slightly above). Arms should be straight and elbows facing forwards. Depending on where you’re stronger/flexible it’s possible to do it with hips between arms, or raised behind them (which requires more hip compression).
It can be done with hands on the floor, but it’s easier on parallettes (or blocks), so I’d recommend working on that first. Be careful not to use those as an excuse to drop your legs too low.
Steps to achieve L-sit
If you can’t to full L-sit yet, then one of the best thing you can practice is maximum hold of the hardest modification of L-sit you can do. In order from easiest to hardest, these are:
- if you can’t hold both feet off the ground, just lift one foot and hold
- tuck hold (knees bent) with arms turned slightly in (elbows facing mostly towards the body) and legs below you, but just off the floor (like the woman in the above image)
- tuck hold with arms turned out (elbows facing forwards) and legs more in front of you
- single leg extended
- half tuck (or 3/4 tuck, or however close you can get to straight)
This is also a good way to measure your progress. Getting to full L-sit can take a long time, depending on where your start point it and how rigorously you train. I wasn’t very strict, and so it took me more than a year. Having smaller milestones such as moving between the above stages, or simply holding them for a few seconds longer, will help motivate and keep you on track.
In addition, I’d recommend the following exercises:
- tuck to L-sit repetitions (or however close you can get, 5-10 in a set)
- pike compressions (5-20 in a set) & holds (sit with your legs straight in front of you, hands on the floor in front of your hips, then lift only your feet)
- straddle compressions (5-20 on each leg) & holds (similar as above, but sit in straddle and do one leg at a time)
- seat lift (5-10 reps; sit the same way as in pike compressions, but then instead only lift your hips behind you. It helps to have your feet on a slider, or in socks on a slipper surface)
The last three are nicely demonstrated in this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_EqG8vHPdQ/ (images 2, 3 and 4 respectively). If you’re bored of those and want to do more core exercises, I’d always recommend hollow hold/dish and plank.
Once you’ve mastered the L-sit, you can work on various advanced moves:
- shoulderstand (or handstand) <-> L-sit transition
- L-sit pull ups
- L-sit dips