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Gymnasts can do L-sits with rings.
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
If you're looking for a challenging exercise that will truly test and develop your core, the L-sit may be for you. You can perform an L-sit exercise using different types of equipment, or no equipment at all. No matter how you get into your L-sit position, however, you'll always have your torso vertical and your legs horizontal, forming the L-shape that gives the exercise its name.
To perform the L-sit on parallel bars, stand between the bars, then grasp them with your palms facing down. Push your torso up and lift your legs in front of you so they're parallel with the floor. Hold the position as long as possible; three minutes is a good long-term goal for serious exercisers. Alternatively, sit on the floor between a pair of pushup handles with your legs extended in front of you. Grasp the handles as you did the bars and lift your legs. Advanced exercisers can try doing the L-sit on the floor. Place your palms on the floor with your fingers facing forward and your arms straight, then raise your legs to a horizontal position. Other L-sit apparatus options include gymnastics rings and a pair of benches.
The L-sit is an isometric exercise, which means it strengthens your body even though you're not moving. The L-sit works a variety of muscles throughout your body but targets your abs, arms -- particularly your triceps -- and hip flexors.
Working Up to the L-Sit
The L-sit is not a beginner exercise. If you can't hold the L-sit position, try hanging from a pullup bar and raising your legs as high as possible while keeping them straight and together. Continue practicing until you can lift them into a horizontal position. Alternatively, perform the L-sit with one leg at a time until you're strong enough to raise both legs simultaneously. Or begin by raising your thighs so they're parallel with the floor, then work your way up until you can straighten your legs.
Consult a physician before you try any new exercise routine, particularly when you're attempting a challenging exercise such as the L-sit. Stop performing the exercise if you feel pain. Warm up before doing the L-sit with five to 10 minutes of light cardio activity, then stretch your muscles dynamically. Try stretches such as arm swings, trunk rotations, leg kicks and lunges.