Monday, October 10, 2011

Crush Your Core With L-Sits!

The first function of your abdominals and “core” is to help stabilize your body/spine and ensure that you don’t break over back wards or spin all the way around during movement. There are numerous techniques and exercises that may be used to help strengthen your core/abs and today we’re going to be discussing one of my favorite ones, the L-Sit.

The L-Sit (or half lever) is a technique that is used predominantly in the sport of gymnastics, and I have borrowed to incorporate into my own (and clients) strength training and strength conditioning routines. The L-Sit helps strengthen the abdominal muscles, hip flexors, and absolutely crushes the “core”. On top of this, unlike many other “core” or abdominal exercises the L-sit places a tone of tension and demand on the triceps, shoulders, forearms, and quads, making this a truly total body and high tension technique. The L-Sit is an intermediate technique, so it’s important to be very comfortable with basic exercises such as push ups, planks, side planks, and dips (just to name a few) before attempting the L-Sit. The L-Sit is also a key exercise to master before moving on to more difficult techniques such as the front lever and human flag, two techniques that are covered in my upcoming e-book “Jungle Fit Advanced Body Weight Exercises”. As with any body weight exercise it takes time, practice, and the correct progressions to help you achieve your goal of performing your first real L-Sit. Let’s take a look at some progressions that I like to use in in my EBooks and  Jungle Fit Body Weight Training Method.

Tuck Knee Raises/Holds: To perform tuck knee raises simply set up your parallel bars or Lebert Equalizer about forearm length apart. Now grip the bars as you would to perform dips, press down into the bars and raise yourself off the ground, bend from your knees and raise your knees up towards your chest, then slowly lower them back down to the starting position. Go for a set number of repetitions or for a set period of time. Another great technique to help you progress towards L-Sits are tuck knee holds. To perform these simply raise your knees towards your chest as you would during the tuck knee raises except this time stop once your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold that position for as long as possible. During both techniques try to keep your back straight and attempt to keep your hips/butt from poking backwards. Once you’ve become fairly confident with both of these techniques you can move onto performing single leg extended L-Sits.

Single Leg Extended L-Sits: An great technique to practice and become comfortable holding once tuck knee holds have become too easy is the single leg extended L-Sit. To perform this set yourself up the same way as you would for your tuck knee holds, only this time extend one leg as far as you can without compromising your form. It’s natural for most people to be unable to extend there leg fully at first, but over time you’ll be able to extend the leg a little further until you’re holding a single leg extended L-Sit with a fully extended leg. Hold for as long as you can, be sure to switch extended legs on each set. Once this has become far too easy, then it will be time to attempt the full L-Sit hold.

The L-Sit: The L-Sit is set up no different from the single leg extended or tuck knee hold, the only difference is that you’ll have both legs fully extended. The goal is to have your legs completely parallel to the ground and have your body actually look just like a floating letter “L”. Attempt to keep your back straight, toes pointed, and knees completely extended. This is an intermediate technique that can take some time to master and feel fully confident while holding, so take your time and treat your training as practice. Before you know it you’ll be holding your first full L-Sit and looking to bigger and badder techniques!

- Tim

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