Strength Innovation – Gymnastic Knee Raises

There are various feats of strength that make you say WOW, but for some reason the bodyweight gymnastic moves always seem to be the most impressive. Probably because you can immediately try them yourself (and quickly appreciate how difficult they actually are), but also because the control demonstrated by the pros is something to be admired.

Control is the product of relentless practice through a combination of strength progressions; starting with the most basic movements, and continuing to push (1 rep at a time) for the ultimate result.

With gymnastics, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the finished product until you’ve sweat your way through the basics. And more importantly, fully recognized that the early progression you’re struggling with is actually 10 steps behind the basic manuever.

For example, the strength innovation I’ll be sharing today is several steps behind the L-sit pictured below.


Which looks basic and looks possible, until you go ahead and give it a try.  But the bigger wake-up call is that this is nowhere near the final progression!

Getting to the L-sit itself requires a lot of strength-building pre-requisites.  And unfortunately, your rock-solid core, bulletproof shoulders, and lean physique from 1% Fitness and Live It NOT Diet! aren’t the only steps. As with most Gymnastic Feats of Strength, the L-sit requires FULL body coordination and strength, and involves practicing the move itself or regressing to an easier variation of that move to get better at it.

The Strength Innovation exercise below is not only a great progression for getting to the L-sit, but it’s a great alternative to your standard leg raises or active planks. Generally speaking, it’s different than the plank because it challenges your shoulder stability from an upright anterior position, and when compared to hanging knee raises it takes the grip out of the equation (which may be preventing you from getting the most of your core).

As far as ‘impressive bodyweight movements’ go, I put the L-sit right up there with the Hand-Stand, Pistol Squat, and Flag Pole. So don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling with the Gymnastic Knee Raises. The key is ‘progression,’ which could be 1 extra rep each time, a longer pause at the top, or straight legs instead of bent.

And who knows, maybe one day you’ll get here:


…if you want.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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