(Original article from Prevention.com)
You may not be a gymnast or a future Ninja Warrior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work your abs like they do. The L-Sit is highly regarded in both sport and fitness as one of the hardest abs moves. We’re tweaking it a little bit to make this mega-toughie doable for the everyday person. But after 10 seconds doing the option best suited for you, we think you’ll agree this is the abs move every woman should try!
An L-Sit involves sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, thighs squeezed together, hands by your hips, and lifting up. The lift of the entire body requires more than abs strength. It demands hamstrings flexibility, quadriceps strength, and hip flexor strength. To significantly decrease those demands while keeping the work in the abs, try the first variation below (Foot-Supported L-Sit), which is best for anyone looking to fire their six-pack muscles in a big way. We'll also show you a few other modifications, depending on how easy or challenging you want to make your L-Sit.
1. Have a seat on the bare floor or a yoga mat. Extend your legs straight in front of you. Squeeze your legs together. Flex your feet. Place your hands flat on the floor by your hips. Inhale.
2. Exhale and press firmly into the floor. Lift your buttocks off the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
Perform 1-4 sets of 10-second Foot-Supported L-Sits (or any of the variations you'll learn below), followed by 30 seconds of rest.
1. Have a seat with legs straight in front of you. Squeeze your legs together. Point your toes. Place your hands in front of your hips. Inhale.
2. Exhale and lift your buttocks up and pull your hips back, like a loaded slingshot. Your feet will drag a few inches back. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat.
What makes this option harder? The isometric contraction (Step 2) requires your abs to hold a much deeper crunch. See “Trainer Tip” below for another way to challenge yourself further!
1. Place a set of Parallettes, or similar supportive gym equipment, by your hips. (Use the promo code FREESHIPPREVENT to get free shipping on a set of Lebert Parallettes, $90, lebertfitness.com.) Have a seat with legs straight in front of you. Grip your hands atop the Parallettes with elbows shooting back. Inhale.
2. Exhale and lift your hips off the ground to reach or nearly reach the Parallettes. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat. You can make this variation more challenging by lifting your feet off the ground in this step (see below).
What makes this option easier? The Parallettes prop your body at an incline angle, taking some of the workload away from the abs. They also neutralize the wrists, making this a far superior option for those who suffer from weak or achy wrists.
1. Have a seat in a filled bathtub or in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Extend your legs straight in front of you. Squeeze your legs together. Place your hands flat by your hips. Inhale.
What makes this option easier? Submerging your lower body in water greatly decreases the weight that your arms and core have to lift off the ground in an L-Sit. Women of all shapes and sizes can safely and properly perform this tough move with the buoyancy advantage of water. (If you're in a pool, try this total-body water workout!)
TRAINER TIP: Once you master your L-Sit variation, try flipping over and replacing the 30-second rest period with a plank hold. (But not if you're in the pool or tub!) This will take the challenge to a whole new level by morphing it into a total core circuit.