Monday, February 21, 2005

L-seat progression and tricks

For those completely unfamiliar, this is an L-seat on the rings.

As you can clearly see, the legs are bent at a 90 degree angle to the torso, so that the entire body forms an "L" shape. Hence the name.

I realize that for some reading this page, this is far too basic. Patience! I'm starting from the beginning and will be discussing skills and progressions that should leave everyone busy for quite some time.

But first... training for the L-seat.

The L-seat has no motion to it, and requires very minimal balance. It is a simple skill that is easily acquired by building the necessary strength. What's one of the best exercises for building that strength?


Of course, straight legs is more advanced and if you can do a hanging leg raise with straight legs, then you're probably already able to do an L-seat. For those who do not have the strength quite yet, just hang and raise your legs into a tuck. Or you can head to the gym and use one of these machines-

If you are building up your strength with the machine above, make sure you are working your repetitions strictly. Bouncing and swinging your legs up is cheating and is a waste of time. No momentum!

What if you have no pullup bar or regular access to the leg raise machine? No problem. I didn't have all that "fancy" equipment either when first learning an L-seat. You know what I used? The ground! Imagine that.

First, get your hands by your sides and lift yourself off the ground in a tucked position. If this is a struggle, just continue to work on the position until you can easily hold it for an extended length of time.

When holding the tuck becomes simple to do, I want you to work on holding yourself in that same position but up on your fingers instead of a flat palm against the ground.

So while you started off with your hands like this...

You'll now want to work on supporting yourself up on your fingers, like this...

This will build strength up in your fingers and become very helpful in future tutorials (hint hint). Careful not to pop a tendon in your finger though. If your hands are feeling fatigued, do not try supporting yourself on your fingers. And if you feel that there's absolutely no way your could support yourself up on your fingers, then work on finger tip pushups to build up that strength.

When you do have the necessary hand strength, go back and try the tuck position up on your fingers.

The remainder of the progression will be shown up on fingertips.

So now that you've gotten the tuck position, we'll extend a leg out to put more stress on the muscles.

Make sure to switch off legs to build strength evenly.

And of course, the next step after that is the L-seat itself.

Your legs should be straight, and this should be a pretty easy position to hold. If your legs are bent and/or you are shaking to hold the position, then take a step back and work some more on the previous positions. If your body is leaning real far back to hold the position, you also need to take a step back. The torso should be perpendicular with the floor.

Quite simple, right?

Below are a couple fun tricks you can do with the L-seat, and below that we have some skills that will take you beyond the L-seat.

For these L-seat tricks, you'll want to get back down on your flat palms.

This is for the safety of the fingers, which would most likely be injured due to the stress and motion that would be placed upon them. To repeat and restate - You should not try these tricks up on your fingertips!

L-seat walking
Now that you're an expert on the L-seat, get up into the position and try walking forward. You'll find it easiest to keep your arms straight and simply lean back and forth while moving your hands forward. Like a waddle of sorts. I also find it helpful to keep my wrists glued up at my side - right along the point where your glutes meet your hamstrings. This is a killer on your midsection if you try to go for any appreciable distance.

The two most important lessons to learn from this trick:
1. Keep your wrists glued to your sides
2. Move by leaning your body weight from one side to another - a shift from side to side.

This will all become very helpful to you as you try...

The L-seat turn
The L-seat turn is a skill where you change the direction you are facing while in an L-seat. This is one of my favorites because you can get some considerable speed on the ground. It's just a matter of learning to shift and control your body.

While you can just turn yourself 90 degrees or 180 if you want, I find it much more fun to spin around in continuous circles. With a path looking something like this. (view from above)

Now, you could move yourself around in this path by taking short choppy steps, similar to the L-seat walking, but if you want to really nail this skill and fly around the circle, you'll need to take more sweeping steps.

What this will require though, is that you really lean over as you step around. So if you look back at the diagram, things will go something like this.

1. push off your left hand and lean over your right. swing your legs in a clockwise direction at the same time.
2. as your left hand comes back down to the ground, push off with your right, lean to your left, and continue swinging your legs around.
3. as your right hand comes back down, push off with your left and repeat the process.

Piece of cake. It'll just take you a bit of time to get use to the amount of body lean you need. Too much and you'll put yourself on your side. Too little and you won't move enough with each hand switch.

How far along the circle should you be moving each time? Well, you could easily move 1/4 of the circle each time. I know this because this skill can also be performed on the parallel bars.

A 180 degree L-seat turn on the P-bars would look like this:

Just like the previous L-seat turn described, this is going in a clockwise direction as well. Your hands will start on the two black dots at the bottom. You'll push off with your left hand and swing your body to the right. As your left hand lands and you are on a single rail of the P-bars, you'll then push off with your right hand and land it on the other rail - effectively turning yourself 180 degrees.

That tip I gave you earlier - keeping your wrists glued to your side - comes in very handy here. By keeping your body tight to your wrists, you will be using the hand and wrist as a solid base and pivot point. As confusing as this sounds now, it'll clear itself up for you as soon as you give it a try.

For further clarification, I was able to track down and copy a video of myself doing an L-seat turn on the P-bars. This is from the end of the year performance.

(size 2.05 mb)

If you look at the still shot above, you can see the body lean that I previously discussed. I've just pushed off with my left hand and I'm leaning over my right hand and wrist. I'm also going a full 360, but you shouldn't have any trouble applying my diagram to a 360 turn.

Beyond the L-seat
The skills that extend from the L-seat are fairly obvious. . . and increasingly difficult. They are...

The V-seat


The Manna

I have not begun dedicated training towards either one, but you can clearly see the importance of flexibility for both skills. Hamstring flexibility is vital for both, and shoulder flexibility looks to be a major component of the Manna.

Have fun with the L-seat ... and goodluck if you work towards those skills beyond it!


Blogger Paul Corfield said...

Great stuff, been looking forward to the new update. I can hold an L-seat on the rings for up to a minute but as I only train at home I've never seen the other tricks you have shown so I shall have fun trying them.

2:48 AM  
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5:52 AM  
Blogger George said...

Very cool post. Liked how you went in detail here.

(Story coming) I learned to do a V-seat in almost a similar manner to what you describe in terms of L-seat training. I've always been able to do an L-seat. For the V-seat, I just started practicing using the arms of a chair (desk chair, non rolling) and using that as a support. I would do the tucked rise (very similar to what you show for the L-seat training). But instead of trying to poke a leg forward, you learn to poke legs up (straddling is also something that makes it easier). The move is easiest on parralel bars, then floor, and actually quite difficult (for most) on rings. Many Olympic athletes can't do it on rings. I remember doing this in front of Wes Suter and having him say "wow, where the heck did that come from". (I was never a competitive gymnast, just used to hang around a colleged team, that I was not good enought to compete on). Try messing with the V-seat and doing it while you study (a few times each night). It's not really flexability, per se, but there is some benefit of muscle control in hands and shoulder (degree of lean). Also I think it is the hip flexor muscle that needs to be developed (and this is not a showy one), as well as stomache.

I was never able to work up to a Manna, but I bet you can work up to a V. Just use the tucked method to get that feeling of leaning back a little. It's much easier to get the feel from popping into it a bit from a tuck, before you've worked up the strength to raise from an L direct to a V.

Rings is a bear though.

12:11 PM  
Blogger George said...

It's a lot of tricep also (v seat). But if you mess with it periodically in tucked position and just have fun with it, it will come. Pretty cool feeling as you start to get it.

8:04 PM  
Blogger oasisfleeting said...

In my physiscs class my teacher said that when gymnasts hang from the rings it is impossible to hang with their arms perfectly perpindicular to their body, then proved with math that it was impossible. What's your opinion?

12:07 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Depends on how you define perfectly. Certainly to a good approximation it can be and has been done.

6:16 PM  

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