The Russian Twist exercise is a great way to build both abs and back muscles. These type of workouts encourage the growth of all of your core muscles and are extremely easy to do. The only thing you really need to train this way is yourself and a flat floor. Yes, that means you can do this exercise from the comfort of your home. However, there is only speculation about the name, with theories referring to exercises by Russian soldiers during wartime. In principle, the equipment required is absolutely none. However, you can reach for some dumbbells and exercise balls to increase the intensity. So this post can help you learn more about the pros and cons of Russian Twist. We’ve also provided a simple guide for you to complete the exercise.
Interesting facts about Russian Twist
Build a strong core with the so-called Russian twist. This rotational movement works your outer abs and your entire body to give you a strong foundation for all sports. For example, imagine a vertical line running through the body, dividing it neatly in half. Any movement that you make parallel to this line is in the sagittal plane. Now consider the movements you make during your workout and how many of them are parallel to this line. It’s likely most of them – from classic bodyweight exercises like lunges and squats to free weight workouts like presses and twists. Then if you mix them all together there are chances of moving sideways with side supports. These are movements that you will perform in the frontal plane. All of these are excellent exercises that will bring you into the world of good fitness. However, you don’t move your body in any other way that you do regularly, especially if you do a lot of exercise.
Imagine another imaginary line bisecting your body at the waist. Movements that involve rotating your upper or lower body parallel to this line are done in the transverse plane, and there is a chance that you will not do as many of them during your workout. Correct this with the Russian Twist exercise, which works in the transverse plane and strengthens the muscles that may be missing from your lifting and lowering movements. You can also use it to cover abdominal crunches and torso bends. Regular workouts can also help improve posture. For example, if you are about to start kayaking or canoeing, there is no better basic exercise to prepare yourself for with a paddle.
How to do a Russian twist exercise?
First, start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Then, lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight at this angle throughout the exercise as it will be tempting to pull your shoulders forward. Tie your hands in front of your chest, then tighten your core and lift your legs off the floor. Turn your arms all the way to the side and do the same thing the other way. Count this as one rep and aim for 20 total, or set a timer for a minute and keep twisting until you hear the beep.
Targeted muscle building
Muscles that you can expect to grow in Russian Twist are primarily the external and transverse abdominals, as well as the back muscles. The former are on either side of the abdomen. So the transverse abdomen is what you see when you picture abs. If this is how you want to build your muscles, Russian Twist will get you there. This exercise also strengthens your lower back muscles. With stronger back muscles, you can expect better posture and more protection from injury.
Variations of Russian Twist
The increasing intensity is another benefit of Russian Twist. There are so many ways you can make the exercise more challenging as you build your muscles. For example, if you keep your feet together you will get more stability. However, if you separate them about shoulder width apart, this will increase the difficulty of the workout. The twisted turns of the body are another option to do this exercise if the standard version is too difficult for you. You can position your feet on the floor to make it a lot easier. Ideally, you should get your feet off the floor and know that you can always lay down during your workout. This is a variation if you are having trouble getting the reps in good position. You can also try the following variations to create more resistance.
Russian twist with medicine ball and weights
This progression is probably the most common form of exercise performed in a gym or fitness center. You can do this variation with any type of weight you have on hand. For example, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags and anything that you can hold with two hands when you turn from side to side are suitable. The extra weight increases the challenge on your middle body, especially when trying to lift the weight from the side.
For extra strength, try lightly tapping the selected weight on the floor on each side as you turn. Regardless of which accessories you use, it is important to make sure that your body is not pulled out of position while you exercise. Only your upper body should rotate. So if you have trouble maintaining your body position, reduce the weight or return to the unweighted exercise.
Russian twist with exercise ball
As the old saying goes, if you want to make a physical exercise harder, introduce a giant inflatable ball. Supporting your upper body on an unstable surface during Russian Twist means that your core will have to work all the harder to maintain position and balance.
To do this, lie with your upper back on an exercise ball and keep your feet flat on the floor. Hold a light dumbbell or kettlebell above you with your arms straight. Rotate your torso on one side until your arms are parallel to the floor, then rotate it back to the other side.
Russian twist with lower body
This variation shifts the focus of the exercise to your abdominal and abdominal muscles. First, lie down with your back and arms flat on the floor with your legs straight up. Press your shoulders on the floor, turn your legs to the side, keeping them straight. When your feet are close to the ground but not touching it, straighten your legs back up and then to the other side.
Step-by-step guide to Russian Twist
- First, lie down on the floor and either put your feet under something that won’t move or have a partner hold them. Your legs should be bent at the knees.
- Then lift your torso so it creates an imaginary V shape with your thighs. Your arms should be perpendicular to your torso and fully extended in front of you with your hands folded. This is the starting position.
- First, rotate your torso to the right until your arms are parallel to the floor as you exhale.
- Hold this position for a second and return to the starting position as you exhale. Now go to the opposite side and do the same techniques that you used on the right side.
- Do this for the recommended number of repetitions.
- Variation: As you progress, you can hold a weight with both arms for resistance.
Other useful tips
- If you are feeling too much pressure in your lower back, you can lean forward a little until you are more comfortable.
- The most important thing about this exercise is your posture. You should rate this on speed.
- Your back should always stay straight at a 45 degree angle.
- If you develop a curved spine during this activity, your abs will not be used optimally and your lower back will be unnecessarily stressed.
- For this reason, try the following approach: exhale as you twist, and inhale as you return to the center.
Cons of Russian Twist
A person’s awareness of their muscles follows a simple process. You start with what you see in the mirror: biceps, chest, shoulders, and six pack abs. However, you also quickly notice that there are even more interesting things on the other side: large back muscles, trapezius muscles, and triceps muscles. At some point, not long after your legs stop growing, you will find that these muscles respond to your daily workout as well. But the real test of your consciousness comes when you worry about everything in between, like your transverse muscles. You might notice your own if you are slim enough. Or, you might see a picture of a fitness model and wonder what’s going on with those finger-like muscles on the sides of his waist. It’s as if the creature on the face from the movie Alien is part of its anatomy.
You can also guess why most people use Russian Twist. An athlete could do this exercise to develop rotational strength for sports such as hockey, golf, baseball, or other sports that involve throwing or hitting. In the worst case scenario, the Russian Twist exercise can put enormous strain on your lumbar spine. For one, your lower back can only rotate 10 to 15 degrees. On the other hand, leaning back with an unsupported upper body automatically puts the lumbar spine in a vulnerable position. Twisting from this position increases the risk, especially with a heavier weight. That said, you can try the suggestions listed above to see if they suit you. Otherwise, there are plenty of other exercises you can do to train your core.