Thursday 171005

On the minute for 24 minutes
Minute 1 = Muscle ups
Minute 2 = Double unders
Minute 3 = Toes to bar
Minute 4 = Rest

Post numbers to comments and BTWB

Squat party!! Partners anxiously waiting their turns for two minutes of max reps back squat.

Squat party!! Partners anxiously waiting their turns for two minutes of max reps back squat.

Following today’s workout there was some post WOD work regarding max length L sits. While going through a warm-up and progression that can be used to build up the L sit, I mentioned how huge of an ab exercise the L sit is. It requires parts of our abs that are not often addressed in other ab work, especially crunches. It involves strength in our hip flexors as well. I often get asked questions about the L sit when someone has trouble performing them, “I’m I just not flexible enough?”, “I think it’s because my hamstrings are tight, maybe?” The truth of the matter is, it’s a lack of strength in the two areas I just mentioned. We lack the strength in the lower abs and hip flexors to support the weight of our legs extended out straight ahead. A natural tendency is to quickly bend at the knee and bring the feet in closer, this is our body’s natural response to lower the weight, decrease the load. It’s like scaling a workout with an RX weight that’s too heavy. Someone eventually asked, “What can we do to make these better? Is there some other exercises that can target these areas as well?” I’m sure there are but the truth is more simple, do more L sit work. CrossFit describes the L sit this way:

“We not only contend that the L-sit is functional but that it is the most functional of all abdominal exercises.”

That’s right, the MOST. The CrossFit Journal publish an article in May 2003 (yes, you read that right) titled “3 Important Ab Exercises” By Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit. Here is what he had to say back then about the L sit:

This exercise is remarkable from several perspectives. It is isometric, functional, and highly effective. Relatively unknown outside of the gymnastics community this exercise may be the most effective abdominal exercise we know of!

The L-sit is performed by supporting the body entirely by the arms and holding the legs straight out in front. The body forms an “L” thus the name L-sit. The exercise (we can hardly call it a movement) is isometric, i.e., it involves no joint movement. Being isometric, we quantify its performance not in reps but by time.

We not only contend that the L-sit is functional but that it is the most functional of all abdominal exercises.

Our justification for this contention lies in our view that the dominant role of the abdominals is midline stabilization not trunk flexion. Though trunk flexion is certainly important, midline stabilization is more important both to everyday living and athletic movement. The leg’s posture in the L-sit places an enormous, if not unbearable, moment or torque about the hip that must be counteracted by the abdominals to keep both the legs up and the spine from hyperextending.

As for efficacy, the L-sit may have no peer among abdominal exercises. We make this claim not on the basis of our position on abdominal muscle functionality but on the simple observation that athletes who have developed their L-sit to the point where they can hold it for three minutes subsequently find all other ab work easy. The gymnasts’ unrivaled capacity at hip and trunk flexion is in large part due to their constant training and practice of this exercise.

We mentioned early the ubiquitous phenomenon of the ab class instructor with the lower abdominal pooch – they cannot hold an L-sit. In fact, if you test the ab class instructor with the lower abdominal pooch for hip flexion strength you’ll find they are super deficient in this regard. You can perform a simple hip flexion strength test by asking the subject being tested to stand on one leg and raise the other knee to hip level while you press down on the knee to see how much, or little, force it takes to push the knee back down. Individuals with the lower abdominal pooch always have super weak hip flexors. We can drive their knee down with one finger. Try this test with someone who has developed the L-sit and you’ll find that they will tip over before the knee will drop. You will not find a three minute L-sit and a lower abdominal pooch in the same person, yet the world abounds with people who can perform thousands of crunches and sit-ups and still keep the pooch. It’s that simple.

Practice of the L-sit is for some very tough – they just can’t seem to find the muscles that raise and hold the legs. The key is to keep trying. Two successful approaches for working up to the L-sit include hanging from a pull- up bar and raising locked legs as far as possible and holding or working the L-sit by holding one leg at a time alternately in the L posture.

Though the L-sit can be performed from nearly any horizontal surface we recommend parallel bars, parallettes, and the floor as platforms for this exercise. The L-sit is hardest from the floor because the floor comes up quickly as the legs sag even a little bit. We use the parallettes for the very reason that it allows practice at less than perfectly horizontal leg position for the beginner, but measuring and competing at the L-sit should be done from the floor.

Measure your progress in the L-sit in 15-second increments. Give your self one point for every fifteen seconds you can hold the “L”. Twelve points is your goal and with regular training and practice you should be able to get to 12 points, or three minutes, within six months. During warm-up and cool-down is the natural place to play with this movement although the dedicated gymnast will find uncountable surfaces and opportunities to play with this superb exercise.”

Want to hear more about the other two important ab exercises, click here for the full article. 



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