The L-Sit Pull-up: 10 Baby Steps to Mastery

By | June 23, 2015

Learn How To Work Your Way Up To Doing L-Sit Pull-ups With Ease By Using This Step-by-Step Progression

l-sit pull ups

The L-Sit Pull-up is a great way to increase the challenge of the pull-up exercise, and I think it’s useful for three main reasons:

  1. By raising your legs in front of you, it changes your center of gravity, which makes the pull-up exercise more difficult.
  2. It increases the core strength challenge, particularly for the lower abs.
  3. It’s a great exercise for learning and practicing proper deadhang pull-up technique because it’s really difficult to kip/cheat with them.

Plus, it’s really easy to learn. Essentially, you’re just combining two exercises…

a) Pull-ups
b) The leg raise isometric hold (AKA the “L-sit Position” since your body’s profile looks like an L-shape)

l-sit pull ups

The L-Sit Pull-up (bottom position)

Once you’ve mastered both exercises, it’s fairly simple to put them together. So, here’s a video with ten progressions to help you work up to and master the L-Sit Pull-up.

10 Baby Steps To Master The L-Sit Pull-up

How to do L-Sit Pull-ups

Instructions: Get into a deadhang position while hanging from a pull-up bar – elbows locked and shoulders packed down (i.e. stabilized on your torso). Raise your knees so that your thighs are roughly parallel with the ground. Then lock your knees and point your toes so that your legs are extended straight in front of you (i.e. making an L-shape with your body). Maintain this L-Sit position while performing your pull-ups – making sure to use proper pull-up technique.

Exhale forcefully and begin to pull yourself up to the bar until your arms are fully flexed – elbows beside your ribs and chin at or above the bar. Pause for a moment before slowly lowering yourself down until you reach full elbow lock – inhaling as you descend. Repeat for reps.

Note: You can learn how to perform pull-ups in my tutorial here: The Right Way to do Pull-ups.

L-Sit Pull-up Technique Tips

  • Tempo and repetition speed is very important with L-Sit Pull-ups. Your reps should be performed slowly, and under control at all times. Don’t kip or jerk your way through the movement.
  • Be especially sure not to allow your body to jerk down into the bottom, deadhang position. The transition to full elbow lock should be smooth and controlled to prevent elbow and shoulder problems.
  • Contract your entire core musculature hard when you initiate the pull with a strong exhale – tucking your tailbone forward and rolling your hips up with a slight abdominal crunch
  • Squeeze your glutes and thighs and try to keep your knees locked and toes pointed

If you’re having trouble getting the hang of it, this video may help…

L-Sit Pull-up Progression (From Easiest To Hardest)

Once you can do at least 10 strict, deadhang pull-ups with excellent technique (and control!), you’re probably ready to start trying L-Sit Pull-ups. But you can begin training for them much sooner. Here’s how you can work your way up to them.

Phase 1: Combining Pull-ups with Knee Raises

  1. Hanging knee raises – work up to at least 10 reps with good technique (smooth and controlled)
  2. Hanging knee raise isometric hold – work up to at least a 30 second hold
  3. Scap pull-ups with knee raise isometric hold – work up to at least 10 reps
  4. Pull-ups with a hanging knee raise – work up to at least 10 reps
  5. Pull-ups with a hanging knee raise isometric hold – work up to at least 10 reps

Phase 2: Combining Pull-ups with Leg Raises

  1. Hanging leg raises – work up to at least 10 reps with good technique (smooth and controlled)
  2. Hanging leg raise isometric hold – work up to at least a 30 second hold
  3. Scap pull-ups with leg raise isometric hold – work up to at least 10 reps
  4. Pull-ups with a hanging leg raise – work up to at least 10 reps
  5. Pull-ups with a hanging leg raise isometric hold (aka L-Sit Pull-ups) – work up to at least 10 reps

Keep in mind that there are other ways to work your way up to L-Sit Pull-ups. So, you can use the progression above as-is or experiment with your own variations.

Here are a few more ideas for l-sit pull-up progressions:

  • Performing the knee raise or leg raise isometric holds in a flexed-arm hang instead of a deadhang
  • Raising just one knee during the knee raise exercises (or one knee higher than the other)
  • Extending just one leg forward during the leg raise isometric exercises (i.e. keep the knee raised for the other leg)
  • Using a partner for assistance or as a spotter
  • Performing partial reps or negative reps

The key is that you keep challenging yourself with progressively harder exercises.

Note: if you’re looking for more l-sit progressions, this video has a few more ideas.

How to Make L-Sit Pull-ups Harder (Advanced L-Sit Pull-up Variations)

Very few people will ever need (or want) to make L-Sit Pull-ups harder. But if you’ve got just the right combination of character flaws traits, here are a few ideas:

  • Wear a weight vest or a backpack (start very light at first)
  • Wear ankle weights or hold a dumbbell between your ankles (again, go very light with these)
  • Use a thick bar, a towel, or a rope to hold onto

Final Words

With a little patience and a lot of hard work, anyone can work their way up to doing L-Sit Pull-ups. Check out the links below if you’re the type of person who likes to do things right.

Want to do More Pull-ups?

Could I interest you in a complete 3-month pull-up workout program that has helped thousands of people increase their pull-up numbers using a unique twist on pull-up training? Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Check it out…

5-Day Pull-up Training Crash Course

-nail your first proper deadhang pull-up
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About The Author

John Sifferman is a health-first fitness coach who has been teaching, coaching, and training people in various capacities since 2006. John is the author of The Pull-up Solution, the complete pull-up and chin-up training system that helps people rapidly increase their pull-up numbers in three months or less.

You can get a free copy of John’s 3-month pull-up training program and download more of his premium pull-up training resources as part of his free 5-day Pull-up Training Crash Course.

You can also learn more about John’s professional background and experience on the About Page.

Photo credit: 1.

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