The L-Sit – Train Your Abs Like A Gymnast

What if it were possible to achieve the core and abdominal strength of a world class gymnast while training at home, only for a few minutes per day with no equipment or gadgets? Well guess what – it is possible to do it if you master the L-Sit.

Pictured above is Bruce Lee in an even harder variation of the L sit – the V sit. He is wearing the suit from the movie Game of Dead which he unfortunately did not finish filming. What little he did film is fantastic though.


  • With bent knees. You can start with this version if you feel you are lacking the strength or hamstring flexibility to do the movement with straight legs.
  • With straight legs. Once you are comfortable doing the L-sit with your knees bent, try the straight leg version. The farther your legs are from your body, the tougher it is.

Hand Positions

  • On parallellets or parallel bars. This is the easiest version, but requires equipment. You can buy a set of parallellets to train at home.
  • On your knuckles. This one will strengthen your wrists and knuckles. Good for martial artists.
  • On your fingers. Probably the easiest version. See the image above.
  • On your fingertips. A slightly different version. Good for martial artists and wrestlers.

Progression and Workout Frequency

  • Change the variations or hand position. This one is self explanatory. Just go to a different variation or hand position to challenge yourself when it gets easy.
  • Progress in time. This is the real deal. Get to one minute non stop in the L-Sit and you will be core bad ass. The way to do it is to do several sets that add up to your total goal time each workout. For example if your goal is 1 minute, do as many sets as it takes you until you reach a total of 60 seconds. So a typical workout could be 12 secs – 10 secs -10 secs – 8 secs – 7 secs – 7 secs – 6 secs.
  • When training a skill, it is best to train as often as possible, as fresh as possible. So an ideal variant to train every day and do multiple sets – say after you wake up and before you go to bed, that add up to your total goal time each day. You could do these sets between household chores – say do a set, brush your teeth, do another set, do the laundry or whatever.


There you have it. There are now no excuses not to build yourself a brick breaking set of abs. Even if you don’t have an access to a gym. Even if you have no equipment at home. Even if you have no spare space to train in. And, as a bonus you can’t avoid getting pretty damn strong overall, not just in your abs, when you master the L-Sit.

Note: For more information on strength training of the abs and core, check out the book Bulletproof Abs – probably the best book on getting strong and functional abs.

P.S. Here is a great L-sit progression I got from the just-released sequel to the body weight training masterpiece Convict Conditioning: Convict Conditioning 2

  • Bent Leg hold Sit on a chair with bent legs. Place your palms on the seat and push off the chair, raising your butt and keeping a 90 degree angle in your hips and knees.
  • Straigth leg hold – still sitting on the chair, push yourself off the seat but keep the legs straight
  • N hold – these are done on the ground while keeping a 90 degree angle in the hips and knees.
  • Uneven N hold – same as above, except one leg is kept straight.
  • L hold this is the actual L-sit or L-hold as pictured above.
  • V-hold also known as v-sit. Just raise your legs even higher

26 thoughts on “The L-Sit – Train Your Abs Like A Gymnast”

  1. hey yavor,
    great post. this is one i have a hard time with. i can hold a pretty good plank of around 120-150 seconds followed up with 120 secs per side plank, but l-sits and lsit pullups are really hard for me. i guess ill have to start working on those progressions. i like the “train as much as possible” philosophy too. for example, people wonder all the time how to work on pullups and increase their numbers. its ridiculous how many people don’t know the asnwer:do more pullups. same principle here.

    and I’m really feeling the new layout! it looks great

  2. Yash

    120 secs for a side is pretty good. The downside is that it gets pretty boring to hold for so long so at this stage it’s best to move to a more challenging exercises such as the L-sit.

    Yeah I’m with you on pullups – up the volume and you will get better at the skill you want to master. People don’t want to hear this cause it means more work fro their side 🙂

    Glad you like the layout, I really put some time in it. Let me know if there is something that bugs you though so I can fix it.


    p.s. Getting strong at L-sit will really pay off in your physique!

  3. Nothing so far. i think it’s a great layout especially for new visitors because you get a little taste of everything so you can just click away and check out all kinds of different stuff.

  4. Good lord those are tough. I think my arms are too short. In all seriousness, I have trouble with the knees bent. Gives me a nice low baseline to improve things, I guess.

  5. Andy,

    just take it from there. If the arms are really a problem try the L-sit off the ledge of a chair.


  6. Hey Yavor!

    Great article buddy. The L-sit is pretty tough move.

    Just some advice that I would give to anyone who wants to try an “L-sit pullup” where you hold the “L” position with your legs while doing pullups — do NOT use a wide grip pullup!

    The weight of your legs pulls your upper body forward and you end up wrenching your shoulder socket!

    I did this a week ago and my shoulder is still tender. So keep your hands close– even touching when doing “L-sit” pullups.

    Great article Yavor!


  7. Caleb,

    watch out with those shoulders. I believe a shoulder width grip is best for pullups 90% of the time.


  8. Yavor

    Is the L-sit a safe exercise for the lower back? Should those with problems do it?


  9. Colin,

    It is a safe exercise, but an advanced one. I suggest first getting used to controlling the position of your lower back and pelvis. Take a look at my posts on the hollow position and the arch position.

    Then I’d suggest getting good (2min+) at static holds in the plank position – check out the article on planks by my buddy Rusty – 7 Minute Abs? 8 Minute Abs? What About 6 Minute Abs?.

    Only then would I suggest training the L-sit.



    p.s. a great resource on everything you would want to know about problems with the lower back and how to prevent them is Dr. Stuart McGill‘s book Low Back Disorders

  10. hi yavor,
    what would be the best exercise to prepare for the l sit if i can’t manage even with bent legs (probs cos of my height)…
    renegade rows? not sure i can do hanging leg raises either and i don’t have a barbell to do the full contact twist with…

  11. Tom, renegade rows help for sure with all ab exercises.

    Try static holds hanging off a bar with your knees tucked in at 90 degrees. In time, progress to holding your legs bent and eventually straight out.

    This is essentially a hanging L sit.

  12. Tom, honsetly – it looks kinda wimpy. One armed plank ona ball is better than nothing, but to really wokr towards a good L-sit, you gotta either work the renegade rows super hard and strict, or (if you can do even the shortest duration L-sit) work l-sits and add time with the power of your will.

  13. i picked up a copy of convict conditioning 2, very good book, i have incorporated alot of the stuff in my routine. I was already doing hangs, but incorporated the progression system, also do the finger training, the stretches such as bridges, l sits twist. Tried out the clutch flag but didn’t have the strength for it so will carry on gaining strength, can you perform the press flag? have to say your site is excellent, and right in line with my principles in gaining strength relative to weight, too many people associate strength with size when Olympic power lifters and even gymnasts prove this to be wrong. I actually go around in my daily life arm wrestling people bigger than me just for kicks lol and beat them lol. I hope to master all the convict conditioning steps

  14. Mike, I haven’t tried any flag variation yet. To be honest, there’s so much info in the book I am taking my time. I think I will start with grip progressions.

    I hope I have time this year to master a few of the steps. I train outside and usually in winter it gets way too cold for serious training. So I switch to home workouts.

  15. I have achieved L sit after a long time strengthening my core with plank. Finally I found out that it’s more about the leg muscles and how your body parts learn to collaborate to hold it.

    Suggesting movements to progress from plank: leg raise (lying), hanging knee raise, hanging leg raise (toughest). You should also squat slowly more often.

    After 2 weeks of these exercises, L sit comes to me naturally. For now I can only whole for about 10 secs… but it will improve 🙂

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