The ridiculously difficult ‘L-sit’ exercise works your entire body without moving a muscle


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Photo: Getty Images/SrdjanPav

Everyone likes a good challenge. That’s why we all love to hate exercises like burpees. You might not think of isometric exercises—that’s planks and wall sits—as on the same level as those high-energy HIIT exercises, but static holds mean business. And if you really want to take things up a notch on the burn scale, meet the L-sit exercise, a move that works your entire body without moving a muscle.

Now the L-sit isn’t exactly on the same level as the dragon flag… but it’s close. It involves holding your entire body weight in your hands as you lift yourself off the floor in an “L” position. It’s also what you see a lot of gymnasts doing during drills, as the exercise is an important strength base for mastering harder moves, like those done on the rings. If you want to incorporate L-sits into your own training, follow the progressions below that are sure to turn you into a pro.

How to do an L-sit

Because an L-sit is so difficult, it’s best to start with some progressions to get you to the point of being able to hold your body off the floor. According to Antranik Kizirian, a strength and flexibility expert, there are five progressions that can get you there. Start at the top of the list and work your way down over time. Once you can hold the first progression for one minute without interruption, you can move on to the next.

The progressions

  1. Foot supported L-sit
  2. One-foot supported L-sit
  3. Tucked L-sit
  4. Less tucked L-sit
  5. Full L-sit with straight legs

The full L-sit

Once you’ve reached  level five on the list, you’ll be doing the full L-sit, as shown above. (And you’ll probably have some seriously impressive muscles to show off because of it.)

Want to try some other challenging moves as you perfect your L-sit? First go for this jump lunge-squat combo, then see how you feel about single-leg skater squats.

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