Traditionally "warming up" in the fitness setting has consisted of little more than spending fifteen or twenty minutes on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical. While better than nothing, this approach to warming up is largely a waste of time in that it will not improve flexibility, does not involve the whole body or major functional movements, misses an ideal opportunity for reinforcing and practicing some critical exercises, and poorly prepares an athlete for the training to come.
For years, we have implemented a warm-up into our group class training that is built on the principle that the warm-up does more than simply "warm you up".
We believe that a warm-up should serve to increase body temperature and heart rate, provide some mobility and stretching, provide practice for basic movements, and finally, prepare the athlete for the training ahead of them. The warm-ups that we perform at Trebel satisfy our needs whereas the traditional warm-up only leaves us with an elevated body temperature and heart rate.
Most of our training sessions last an hour, and an hour goes by quickly when we have to do some community building, get everyone warmed up, practice a few skills, some strength training, get in a high intensity finisher, and a thorough cooldown.
With that in mind we encourage all of our coaches and athletes to minimize the amount of time in class spent on warm-up activities that do not develop functional movements and skills.
Training in the small group setting has several challenges, not the least of which is the difference in experience, skills, and capacities among athletes. Skill-based warm-ups can help bridge that gap while setting standards for technique and range of motion and developing coordination. Relatively new athletes can brush up on the movements and sequences, and experienced athletes can refine and practice their skills.
Deliberate Practice |
Take 10 minutes to practice the L-Sit.
Aim to accumulate 3 full minutes supporting yourself in an L shape.
The L-Sit exercise is remarkable from several perspectives. It is isometric, functional, and highly effective. Relatively unknown outside of the gymnastics community the L-Sit 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. It can be argued that the L-sit is not only functional but that it is the most functional of all abdominal exercises. The justification for this contention lies in the 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. This claim is not on the basis of the 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
Progressions for practicing the L-Sit:
Practicing the L-Sit has proven for us to be an excellent investment of your time and effort.
Get after it!