Tip: The Coolest Exercise With the Most Benefits

Master the L-sit to handstand to strengthen your core, build triceps, and keep your shoulders mobile.

If you were lucky, your mom forced you into a gymnastics class as a kid. If not, some of those movements are still attainable. With a bit of effort and consistency, anyone can master a few of these party tricks whilst building some awesome strength and mobile muscle.

One of more impressive skills is the "L-sit to handstand" on the parallel bars. On first look, you might think that you'll never be able to do it. But with the right progressions, you certainly can.

It's a combination of a super challenging core exercise and one of the best movements to master for great overhead pressing. Not only does it require tremendous core stability and tricep strength, but because of the shoulders being taken through such a great range of motion, it's also a good way to keep them healthy, provided you don't overdo it.

L-Sit to Handstand

  1. First off, can you hold yourself up on the bars with your feet underneath you and your butt off the floor? If yes, and you can hold it for 30 seconds or more, then see if you can hold the position with your legs extended in front of you. This is the L-sit. If you can't get your legs completely straight, keep a bend in them until you get stronger.
  2. Next, can you hold a good push-up position on the bars and do a push-up? Make sure to get a good stretch at the bottom in a nice deficit.
  3. Keep practicing these two movements in superset fashion until you can comfortably hold the L-sit for 30 seconds and complete 5 or more push-ups.
  4. Time to string them together. Transition between the L-sit and the push-up by pressing into your arms, engaging your core, lifting your hips, dropping your head forward, and kicking your legs back.

If you need to pause by putting your feet down at any point during the transitions that's absolutely fine. Ultimately your goal is to make this look as effortless as possible, with as little momentum as possible, and move between each position flawlessly.

This on its own is a great movement to train, either for reps or just quality. If your technique starts to go, you're best finishing with some solid push-ups and the tucked L-sit variation rather than practicing bad technique.

If you're interested in the full variation, look into training your freestanding handstand and handstand push-ups separately alongside this progression. If you put the work in, you'll happily arrive at the full movement one day.

Tom Morrison is a British weightlifting coach, martial artist, and CrossFit trainer and competitor. Tom works with athletes on prerequisite movement capabilities for optimal strength, performance, and reduced risk of injury.  Follow Tom Morrison on Facebook