Some exercises just look awesome.
We’ve all seen someone show off a move that takes unbelievable balance, concentration, and strength, appearing to bend the laws of physics and defy gravity. These are what we’re calling Hero moves, the high-level maneuvers that you’ve watched slack-jawed on Instagram but never imagined you’d be able to pull off yourself.
Good news: With the right plan, you can learn exactly what it takes to master these Hero moves. Trainer Jay Maryniak, NASM-CPT+CES, is confident that he can teach you how to nail the L-Sit, a sneaky-tough display of core strength and control.
“The L-sit is a badass, foundational gymnastic movement that takes a tremendous amount of upper body strength, core strength, and ultimately full body strength to hold,” says Maryniak. “It’s also a movement that, once you master, you’ll be able to do anywhere, anytime, on anything.”
The L-Sit Progression
Everyone can work their way up to the L-sit, but Maryniak cautions that it might be tougher for people with tight hamstrings and hip flexors, or those who lack the upper body and core strength needed to hold their body up in position. These stretches—which everyone should do before embarking on their L-sit practice—should help.
Standing Quad Stretch
Before you actually move into the L-sit progression, you’ll need a platform to practice on. In the video, Maryniak uses a set of paralettes.
If you don’t have any handy, check out this option from Jfit—or, create a DIY setup using bumper plates, like the Instagram post above.
Once you have your platform, make sure it’s set up correctly. That means positioning the two sides at an appropriate distance for you. Find that by measuring the space between the two sides with your arm, from your elbow to the tips of your fingers. Take your position with your hands on the platform, strong chest, shoulder in line with your hips, and get ready to work.
Remember this is a set of progressions, not a workout. Only move on to the next step once you’ve mastered the one before it, and don’t feel pressed to perform them all at once.
Hold for 10 to 20 seconds
Tuck Hold with Single-Leg Kickout
5 kickouts per leg
Tuck Hold with Double Leg Kickout
8 to 10 reps
Hold for 10 to 20 seconds
Once you’ve mastered each of these progressions, you’ll be ready for the real thing.
When to Do the L-Sit
When you’re working to master the L-Sit, you can work through the progressions as an addition to your typical core training routine 3 to 4 times a week. Once you’ve got the move down, use it’s variations once or twice a week as a component of your core routine, holding for that 10 to 20 second window or as an accessory to other moves.
That said, Hero moves are a great way to show off your hard work and athleticism—so if you can pull off the L-Sit, don’t be shy! Share your skills with us (@menshealthmag) and Maryniuk (@jtm_fit), and experiment with the platforms you use as a base. If you want to learn another Hero move, check out our explainer on Superman Pushups. The world can never have too many heroes.