Just when you thought we’d covered everything about the L-Sit, we’ve got more great information for you on this incredibly important skill.
The L-Sit is literally (LITERALLY!) in all of our core programs, so you could say we like this exercise.
Andy and Ryan had lots to say about the questions we’ve received on the L-Sit. Here’s a snippet of what Andy had to say:
As much as we talk about L-Sits, you people still keep asking us questions about them!
In this episode, Andy and Ryan answer some of the questions we’ve received again and again about the L-Sit.
Here’s what we cover in this episode:
- (01:24) Click here for our full L-Sit tutorial
- (10:06) Bringing your hands forward and squeezing your body down will shorten your torso and your range of motion, whereas turning your hands out and rolling your shoulders back will lift you higher.
- (13:36) Jumping into sloppy movement when you’re not ready for it is a recipe for not getting very good at anything.
- (14:06) Why do my quads hurt so much in the L-Sit?!
- (18:00) There’s no one answer to the “programming question” when it comes to the L-Sit (or other moves for that matter).
- (19:24) Set some amount of time, and work up to doing that amount of total L-Sit practice.
- (20:45) Don’t worry about how much time you rest in between.
Andy: Breaker, one-niner. Get your ears on for the GMB Show. We’re going to be talking over the next 20 minutes plus or minus about ways that you can get better using your body for stuff that you actually care about, without having to do too much stuff that sucks.
My name is Andy and this is Ryan, the hero of the GMB epic saga and today we’re going to be talking a lot about L-sits. We’ve talked a lot about L-sits before. We just can’t seem to shut up about L-sits. You want to know why? It’s because as much as we talk about L-sits, you people still keep asking us questions about them.
So if you’re tired of hearing us yap about L-sits, well then turn this off and practice your damn L-sits. If you’re having trouble with the L-sits, this is for you homey.
Ryan: And then turn it off and go practice your L-sit.
Andy: Then turn it off and go practice your L-sits. OK. So I usually do some Q and A before we get into the meat but the meat this time is Q and A. This is all questions people have asked us on YouTube videos and email and Facebook and that kind of thing lately. We will say that we’ve got a great full tutorial on L-sits on our website. We will have the link below this. So you can definitely check that out. It covers really almost everything you need to get started and it has got a ton of information there.
We’ve also talked about L-sits on the show before. We will include that link. So if you just need more, it’s all there for you. But hopefully we can answer some of the gaps today, questions that keep coming up and maybe explain some of that other stuff a little better so there’s less confusion.
Andy: All right. So first of all, we’ve covered it before but Ryan, just kind of lay down quickly why L-sits are important. They’re one of the maybe three exercises that’s in every program we make.
Ryan: Yeah, good point. Yeah.
Andy: And we’re not the only ones teaching by a long shot. So why are they so important?
Ryan: Yeah. Posture. I mean they’re great for posture. A lot of people, the first thing they think of when they think of an L-sit are the abs.
Andy: The abdominals.
Ryan: Abdominals. Yeah. They work your core like you wouldn’t believe but it’s going to help your posture as well. Also teaches positioning. I want to say positioning by for example allowing you to get a better feel for what has to happen with your shoulders and straight arm work is also another good reason why we do the L-sit.
Now one other thing for the legs, a lot of people think that it’s just going to work the core when you do the L-sit. But when doing the L-sit properly, you’re going to have your legs completely locked out, tight, pointing your toes and this is really going to help you to learn more about body tightening.
Ryan: It’s what we practice in kung-fu, right?
Andy: And how to tighten one place while keeping another spot relaxed which is a neurological technique that a lot of people never really develop very well.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s right. It is tough because a lot of times, when you – just like you say, you tell a person tighten your legs or squeeze your legs. Then the rest of the body gets really tight too. But you want to learn how to adjust that and how to only place that tension in one particular part of your body and relax the places that you need to.
So that’s why the L-sit can be a very good learning tool for that. Of course you’re not going to just jump in to doing the full L-sit but the progressions leading up to that are what’s going to help you to learn that.
Andy: We cover a lot of progressions in our tutorial and so yeah, that’s probably very adequate on that.[Music]
Andy: So also briefly so like I said, we have L-sits in most of our programs. We do them on the floor. We do them on parallettes. We even do them on rings. We’ve covered the pros and cons. Well, it’s not really pros and cons but the different benefits and difficulties of each of those on our other show that we did about this. So I don’t really want to get into that right now.
But in case anyone is wondering, listen to the other show because we talk about that in detail there. So let’s get into some of the recent questions. So what about floor? Well, listen to the other show. We – you like to demonstrate L-sits on the parallettes.
Ryan: Yeah. For the most part, the reason for that is hand placement, just quickly for those of you. This is also a video that I recently shot is I described the differences between the L-sit on the rings, the floor and the P-bars.
So, some more L-sit love for you. That’s going to be coming out very soon. But basically it’s just hand position. A lot of people, when they get on to the floor, in fact one of the questions we have is a person said, “Well, I’m having trouble with my shoulders coming in and rounding while I’m on the floor.” What chances are your hand placement – you probably have your fingers forward and it’s making it difficult.
So something you can do is turn the hands out to the side and you will find that it’s a lot easier to roll the shoulders back and down and that’s why we do it on the P-bars because when you’re on the P-bars, your hands will be in that position as well.
So quickly that’s why I like to show them on P-bars because it’s something that a person can get. Not necessarily get right away but the hand placement is very easy to do.
Andy: Yeah, there is less they need to think about on the floor.
Ryan: Exactly right, yeah.
Andy: Yeah. It’s also – in a lot of ways, it’s a little easier to get started that way.
Andy: So you mentioned shoulder position and also posture was the first thing you talked about as benefit. So let’s go on and get into that.
One thing I will say is I think a lot of people in the past like two years, like the world of fitness has learned the word “scapula” and anytime you’re doing any exercise, we get the most detailed questions by email.
Like can you tell me the specific scapular position I need to be doing for push-ups? Well, actually I think you really shouldn’t worry about it.
But in push-ups, if your arms and body are in the right position, your shoulder scapula are pretty much going to be in the right position. But for L-sits, L-sit shoulder position actual is something you need to be conscious of.
So without getting too complicated though, what are the things that we can focus on to make sure that the L-sit is in the right position? I think knowing where your scapula is, isn’t as important as making sure that your body is in the right position.
Ryan: That’s exactly right. I totally agree. So let’s keep it very simple. Shoulders, roll back, and shoulders down. That’s it. So instead of thinking, OK, you need to make sure that you’re protracting and keeping the scapula in this – I mean hey, we can get very technical.
Andy: Yeah, because if protracting the scapula were a simple cue that people would go, “Oh yeah sure, no problem,” then we wouldn’t have to think about it.
Andy: If it were that natural for people that we can just say protract your scapula and they get it, then we wouldn’t have to say protract your scapula.
Ryan: So that’s why instead of doing that, giving you cues, that you can actually focus on that are going to help put you into that position.
Ryan: So not that we’re saying that we need to dumb things down but there’s no reason to make things complicated as well.
So just think of every single time you sit up for that L-sit to roll your shoulders back and down. In that way also, you’re going to be pushing down and through the P-bars. Hopefully then be able to get your arms straight and locked out.
You’re just setting everything else up for the L-sit to make sure that you’re going to be successful with it. Instead of thinking I’m just one little tiny point, think of it as a whole and the least amount of things that you need to think about in order for you to accomplish the task.
Andy: Yeah. I think it’s really important. So for the L-sit, the thing you need to think about is the shoulders, roll back and down. That’s really it. If you’re in this position, obviously it’s different to do sitting here than with weight on your hands.
If you’re in this position, your scapula is going to be in the right position. Your chest is going to be in the right position and you’re fine.[Music]
Andy: So related to that, and this is actually something that somebody wrote but it’s really common. It’s just a matter of physics if you think about it. So I practice this on the floor with my shoulders down and back. I cannot get much height and I feel like my shorts are skimming the floor and my butt just hovers above.
But if I round my shoulders forward, I feel like I can get my legs a lot higher because it’s easier to compress my torso.
So that’s what somebody wrote and to me, I come from a physics background scholastically. So I’m like yeah, it’s simple mechanics but maybe you can explain it in a way that makes some sense kinesthetically.
Ryan: Sure. Yeah, of course it’s going to happen because you’re squeezing the body. I’m squeezing your head. Sorry. Anyway, I had to do that.
It’s because of your body that’s going to allow lift. So it’s going to bring your legs up higher. The thing though is this is actually kind of going back to what I was referring, to the hand placement.
That is having the hands, bringing the fingers forward. Yes, it is going to allow you to roll forward and yes, it is going to squeeze your body down so you can lift your legs up higher.
But you’re not going to be as strong for what you want to do and so I’m kind of going away from what you’re getting at. But basically, you need longer arms is what you need and the big joke for that. But turning the fingers out is actually going to help you with the longer arms, of what I mean, because it’s going to put you in that proper position.
So, yes, it’s going to be difficult and you might feel your shorts or your trousers skimming the floor while your butt hovers just above.
But really getting into that proper position with rolling the shoulders down and back is going to lift you higher so that you’re going to be getting into the position.
So rounding the shoulders, yeah, it’s going to feel that your feet and your legs are going to get higher but that’s simply because you’re shortening the torso by scrunching it together.
Andy: Yeah. It also moves your center of gravity.
Andy: Closer between your hands. So it’s easier to keep your balance and you can focus on lifting the legs.
Ryan: Exactly, exactly.
Andy: But it’s not really as good an exercise.
Ryan: So everything comes back down to that rolling the shoulders back and down.
Ryan: And that’s what creates the lift in a nice line. Remember the goal too is to get your rear end between your hands so that’s underneath your shoulders.
Andy: Yeah. So the answer is that yes, it may feel like you can lift your legs higher if you round your back and hunch your shoulders. Don’t do it.
Ryan: Just don’t do it, yeah.
Andy: It’s not teaching you anything. It feels like you can do a little more now, but if you back off and practice the form properly, it may feel like you can’t do it as well at first. But as you practice, you’re going to be getting a lot stronger.
Ryan: It will happen, it will happen.
Ryan: By the way, something else too, once you put the L-sit into motion, and you’re going for let’s say an L-sit into a bent arm stand or a press to a handstand or even just taking your legs back to put them on the ground, you are going to travel through these different positions where your shoulders might round and you crunch up.
But that’s not the move that we want to start with. Always focus on trying to lengthen your body, real nice posture before you put it into motion.
Andy: Yeah, we talk about movement a lot. Movement is – lately it’s this exalted thing and movement is great. But movement, to be able to control your movement well, you need to build your movement on solid positioning, right?
Yeah, you start with stability before you go to mobility in a lot of ways, right? If you can’t stand, you’re not going to be able to walk with control. Yes, toddlers can kind of walk before they can stand very well but not with control, right?
So that’s why we teach you the L-sit. It’s a static position. Yes. But ideally, once you master that position, you can then move with it.
Ryan: This goes for pretty much all the holds that we do in GMB. It’s not that we want to just hang out in the hold forever. Yeah, it’s a nice pause and it will teach you that coordination to actually hold the balance. But movement, gradually putting that into motion is a good …
Andy: Movement is great but like jumping into sloppy movement when you don’t have the control to hold a position is a recipe for never getting any good at anything.
Ryan: And being in the hospital.
Andy: All right. So back to L-sit, I can manage to stay in an L-sit position with my knees slightly bent. But if I straighten my legs completely, my quads hurt a lot and I can’t hold it even for a second. What might be the problem? Corollary question we always get. Oh, oh, my quads are shaking. I’m cramping. Am I going to die?
Well, I’m sorry. Am I going to die, that was last week. All right. But yes, what – not yes, you’re not going to die. But yes, this happens a lot.
Ryan: No, this happens with pretty much everybody and that’s a good thing. If your legs are locked out and your legs are shaking, congratulations. You’re on the way to a very good L-sit. You got to work through the pain, man. No, I’m just kidding. This is just your body …
Andy: This is one of like the only instances where we will say work through pain.
Andy: Because it’s not an injury pain. It’s a neuromuscular pain that your quads aren’t used to doing this. So they’re going to cramp up and that will hurt.
Ryan: Yeah, they’re just trying to make sure – they’re not used to it so what they’re trying to do is let you know we need to get out of this position. But this is the one time where you do need to fight that. Not to the point where you’re not going to be able to walk or anything but really just hold it a little bit longer. You’re going to be OK. Once you get through that, you’re going to find that it’s easy. Really it’s going to be easy once you get past that point.
Something that will help you to get used to the movement is something we’ve talked about before where you just sit down with your butt on the ground, extend one leg to the front and squeeze the crap out of your leg. That is what you can do in the very beginning.
Andy: Not even trying to lift it but just …
Ryan: No, just squeeze it, just squeeze it.
Andy: Full extension, full tension and squeeze it, that same quad cramping sensation squeeze.
Ryan: And again, that’s not even the L-sit. It’s just prepping you to get the feeling for what’s going to be going on in that L-sit and getting your leg to adapt to that feeling so that when you actually do the L-sit, you’re going to be OK.
Ryan: Not a fun one but hey, this is that instance where you kind of got to grin and bear it.
Andy: Yeah, and people like to talk about this a lot, that bodyweight and gymnastic style skills are great for building upper body but – and they seem to assume that everything from the hips down are like just some dumb weight that’s not doing anything.
Now I’m not trying to say that doing an L-sit is going to replace barbell squats. If you just want to get really strong legs, barbell squats …
Ryan: Ain’t nothing going to look like that.
Andy: … dead lifts are great. I’m not saying that but there is a lot going on below the waste even in the L-sit. So don’t discount this stuff.
Ryan: Yeah. I want to say too, I want to take that even a bit further. In most of the holds and I’m thinking if you look at the front scale, if you look at like even the hollow body hold, the hollow body plank, you’re squeezing the crap out of your legs. Even when I’m doing my handstands, when I’m doing like a straddle handstand, oh man, my legs burn.
So it’s – yeah. Again, it’s not going to replace the barbell squat but you are working your legs when you’re doing this stuff.
Andy: Yeah, and importantly you’re working your control over your legs and that’s something that actually squats don’t develop very well.
Andy: OK. So last question about the L-sit and probably not the last. Probably after this, we will get a bunch more. That’s great. We will answer them. Ask us anything. It’s what we’re here for. But this is another one that comes up really commonly. I think we mentioned it briefly on our L-sit tutorial but we don’t mention it in every video because well, frankly, the L-sit is just an exercise. It’s not a program.
So, people ask us, “How often should I do it? How many times? How many sets and reps?” and that kind of thing. The fact is there really isn’t an answer that is going to fit every need because it depends on what is the L-sit doing in your program.
But if you’re just trying to learn some skills, that’s what people always say. What if I’m just trying to get stronger? Well, the same caveats apply. But if we’re just going to recommend for people that have no desire to follow a program at all, how should they practice L-sits?
Ryan: Well, like other skills, do it as much as possible. So what does that mean? Every single day all day long – no. I mean yeah, if you want to do a little bit every day, hey, that’s cool man.
Andy: If you really want to get the L-sit, you will tough it up and you will do it.
Ryan: If you really want it, you would have had it by now.
Andy: Manifest the L-sit.
Ryan: Manifest it. Sorry.
Andy: You must believe.
Ryan: Here is something that you can do where you don’t have to think about sets and reps. You’re going to end up being – you’re going to do sets and reps but you don’t have to think about the number.
Ryan: Think about a time. Pick a time. Let’s just keep it easy and I know people are going to be like – as soon as I say this, someone is going to say, “Oh, so I should aim to get this time?” OK? Set a time for like one minute. That’s random by the way. OK?
Andy: Totally arbitrary.
Ryan: OK? One minute.
Andy: Ryan, why not 70 seconds?
Ryan: Let’s say 70 seconds. OK?
Andy: I heard that we need to be above 60 seconds.
Ryan: Above 60 seconds.
Andy: And super maximum hypertrophy. Let’s play it on 70 seconds.
Ryan: Seventy seconds it is. In that time, you’re not going to set a timer or anything like that. What you’re going to do is you’re going to time your L-sit. So you get into your L-sit and you’re like one, two, three, four, five. Let’s see you do 10 seconds. You do 10 seconds. You’re awesome. You do 10 seconds. OK? So that’s one set.
Andy: Impressive. Good job.
Ryan: That’s very impressive. So that means you’ve got 60 seconds left of L-sit work. Now maybe in your next set you only get five seconds. All right? So then you have to just complete the rest of the seconds. Maybe you take a little bit of creatine and you’re good to go right after that. So you could do like 30 seconds. Whatever. Anyway, but it really doesn’t matter how many sets it takes you. Just complete that.
Andy: It does not matter how much you rest in between. This is not cardio so you’re not trying to keep your heart rate up. You’re not trying to keep your muscles exhausted. Rest as much as you feel like you need in between those. But try to get a total of 60 seconds with good form of L-sits or 70 seconds or whatever.
Ryan: Whatever you want to do.
Andy: Your goal can start – you can start with 30 seconds as your goal if you’re just getting started. That’s totally OK. You can adjust that time but just pick a number, right? And add up to that. Like we’re saying, it’s totally arbitrary because it really is. With the absence of a program, without knowing what else you’re doing for your back, knowing what else you’re doing for your legs, we can’t really say what’s the right number.
Ryan: Right. But that’s just an example of something you can do instead of thinking about sets and reps. I would rather have you focus on that time and doing it as pretty as possible with the proper form, holding it for a couple of seconds, rather than thinking, “Oh, I have to do this.” No, you don’t have to do anything.
Andy: Over time, what happens is you keep that goal time the same but you find that you’re doing it with fewer breaks, right? So that’s decreasing sets and increasing load with the same time. But you’re not having to worry about six sets of ten seconds, right? Because if you do, you might be able to do five sets with ten seconds but then the last one you’re going to only hold five seconds. Well then what do you do? Are you screwed? No. Do another set of five seconds.
Ryan: Exactly, exactly. No, that’s great. The protocol is pretty much the same. The time is the same but what’s cool is the intensity will change depending on the day. So you might be able to do a longer set or your rest might go down and hey, you’re improving.
Andy: Yeah. So don’t send us an email that said, “Last week, I could do it for ten seconds and this week I can only do it for eight seconds. What the fuck? Am I getting weaker?” No, you’re not. You’re just – maybe you’re tired man.
Ryan: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Andy: Like, it’s OK. It’s OK. You’re going to have cycles and waves.
Ryan: People have barbell squats before they do the L-sit. Probably had something to do with that.
Andy: Cool. So I think we covered most of the questions that we really get a lot. If you have more, definitely ask us and about any other exercise too. L-sits are important, which is why – well, why obviously a show and a giant tutorial and about five extra videos weren’t enough and you had more questions, right? So it’s great.
If there are other things you think are important that you need to ask about, definitely do it and we will address them on another show.
Ryan: All righty. Thanks for listening everybody and we will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.[End of transcript]
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