Generally, when it comes to ab workouts, Russian twists are undoubtedly one of the best exercises you can do. If you desire to increase your core strength, these exercises will give you the results you will love. The Russian twist targets abdominal muscles in quite a unique fashion.
Moreover, it normally works out a few other muscle groups. You may have seen some people doing them before and wonder how you can do them correctly. In this post, we’ll take you step-by-step through every aspect of this exercise to enable you to get the most out of it.
How To Perform Russian Twist Exercise?
- Sit on the floor or a mat with knees bent and feet flat.
- Lift your feet a few inches off the ground while keeping your legs bent.
- Lean back so your spine is 45 degrees to the floor, make sure your torso and legs are V-shaped, and lift your two arms straight in front of you.
- Twist your torso to the right side, pausing when you feel a stretch in your obliques, then repeat on the left side.
- Add weight as needed.
Benefits Of Russian Twist Exercise
The following are the main benefits of performing Russian twists:
- Strengthens The Abdominal Muscles
Russian Twists are great for strengthening the abdominal muscles. They work because you’re twisting your torso at the waist, which works your obliques and rectus abdominis muscles.
The obliques are located on the sides of your body and help bend and rotate your torso. The rectus abdominis is the “six-pack” muscle running vertically down the front of your abdomen, from below your ribcage to just above your pelvis. When you perform Russian twists, this muscle contracts and helps to rotate your torso to one side while keeping it straight. This is why maintaining a straight spine throughout the exercise is important.
- Improves Balance
The Russian twist is an advanced move because it requires the coordination of multiple muscle groups in the upper body and core region. Your body has to work harder than usual to maintain its position when doing this exercise in an unstable environment, like on an exercise ball. Or while holding a weight between your feet or hands.
- Increases Calorie Burn
Russian twists increase your heart rate and cause your muscles to contract, which helps burn calories more efficiently than other forms of exercise. The more muscle mass you have on your body, the easier it will be to burn off fat stores when you work out. Using a medicine ball or dumbbell during this exercise makes it even more challenging because they add resistance to each rotation of your body.
The process increases the calories you burn and works out multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the back, abs, arms, etc.
- Improves The Stability Of Your Spine
When you’re doing this exercise, it feels like you’re twisting your spine out of its natural position. However, the truth is you apply all the pressure to your hip flexors and obliques. This forces them to work harder to keep the spine stable throughout the movement. Hence, it will improve their strength, stability, and endurance.
- Increase Range Of Motion
Russian twists help increase the range of movement in your spine and lower back, which is essential for maintaining good posture. You achieve this when your glutes, hamstrings, and abs strengthen. Strengthening these muscles will also help you remain in a good position throughout the day if you sit at a desk or drive for long periods.
- You Can Do Them Anywhere
The best thing about Russian twists is that you can perform them anywhere, even if you don’t have access to a gym. You’ll need the medicine ball and some space to twist. The only limitation is how much weight you should use. However, even if you use your body weight, it’s still a great way to get a forearm workout wherever you go.
- Requires Minimal Equipment
The only equipment you need to perform this exercise is a medicine ball or weight plate. You can use either one for this workout. If you choose to use a medicine ball, it should not weigh more than eight pounds if you are a newbie. If you want a weight plate, ensure it’s light enough. Hence, it won’t cause strain on your wrists when you rotate it from side to side.
- Can Be Modified To Suit A Range Of Abilities
You can modify the Russian twist depending on your fitness level and goals. For example, if you want more of an upper-body workout, try doing the exercise while holding dumbbells in each hand. If you want more lower-body involvement, try holding one weight plate across your lap while performing the exercise.
If you’re new to the exercise and cannot do one rep yet, try doing half reps until you feel comfortable. You can then increase the number of reps or increase your body weight.
Make Russian Twist Exercise An Integral Part Of Your Workout
Generally, there are many ways to make a Russian twist an integral part of your workout. You can do them at the end of your workout or warm-up.
One way to make the Russian twist an integral part of your workout is by doing them regularly. You should do them at least three times per week. Still, it doesn’t mean you can do them daily if you want. If you’re starting out with this exercise, start with two sets of 10 repetitions. You can increase as you get stronger and more comfortable with this exercise.
Another great way to make Russian twists an integral part of your workout routine is by including abs circuits in your workout plan. An abs circuit involves doing various exercises targeting different parts of the abdominal area without rest between sets. You can do them usually for 10-15 reps each set. The exercises included in an abs circuit vary based on what muscles you want to target. They typically include sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and back extensions.
Is Russian Twist Exercise Good For Beginners?
The Russian twist is an excellent exercise for your obliques, but it can be challenging to do with perfect form. If you’re new to working out, this may not be the best exercise for you.
You need core stability to do Russian twists properly. If you don’t have a strong core, your lower back will take over, making it more difficult for you to maintain good form throughout the entire movement.
Russian twists are also an advanced variation of basic sit-ups. If you’re new to working out, there are other ways to strengthen your core without putting too much strain on your back and shoulders. However, if you can do Russian twists, you should focus on keeping your spine aligned throughout the exercise.
You should keep looking straight ahead, so you don’t over-rotate or hyperextend your back while doing this exercise. If you start tilting your head forward or backward while doing this exercise, it may cause injury. It puts too much stress on the joints in the neck and lower back region of the body. Also, in your starting position, ensure you have all your feet on the ground and lift them upright.
The best time to do Russian twists is after you warm up your body with some cardio or light weights. This will help prevent injury while doing these exercises. They normally stress your lower back if not done properly or under too much weight.
How To Advance Russian Twist Exercise?
When you’re ready to take your Russian twists to the next level, you can;
- Add Some Weight
One way to make the Russian twist more effective is by adding weight. You can use dumbbells if you have access to them, or use a resistance band instead. The resistance band gives you a lot more freedom compared to using dumbbells. You can loop it around anything sturdy enough for it, like the legs of a chair or table leg. If using dumbbells isn’t possible, try using water bottles filled with sand or something similar.
- Tighten Your Abs
The key to doing Russian twists correctly is ensuring you’re using your core muscles, not just your arms and shoulders. To do this, focus on tightening the abs while performing the movement. You can ensure you don’t hyperextend at the hip or overextend at the low back. If you’re having difficulty tightening up, try putting a resistance band around your waist and pulling inwards during each repetition.
- Do More Reps
To get more out of this exercise, do more reps with fewer sets. For example, if you usually perform three sets of 10 reps with two minutes of rest between each set, try doing three sets of 15 reps. Ensure you have 15 seconds of rest between each set instead. This will allow you to add more volume without needing a longer workout.
How To Avoid Getting Injury During A Russian Twist Exercise?
The Russian twist is an excellent exercise for your core and obliques. It targets the muscles that support your spine and waistline, making it an important part of any exercise routine. However, like any other exercise, there are risks involved with the Russian twist. Here, we explore several ways to reduce the risk of injury and make the Russian twist work:
- Do Not Overwork Your Legs
Overworking the legs is one of the most common mistakes that beginners make. You should perform Russian twists with only your upper body weight if you have weak legs and lower back muscles. If you cannot even do this, then go for other exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups, which do not involve twisting movements.
- Maintain A Correct Angle
You should maintain a correct angle, 45 degrees, between the upper body and thighs. If your legs move too much or too little, this could cause injury to your lower back and spine. Maintain this angle by keeping your hips straight, and ensure that your back does not sag or rise.
- Keep A Steady Pace
When doing Russian twists, it’s tempting to go fast to get them over with quickly. However, this will wear your muscles faster than if you went slower and controlled each movement more carefully. Don’t forget to breathe during this exercise.
- Use A Correct Weight Plate
When performing Russian twists with a dumbbell or cable machine, make sure that you use a weight plate that is heavy enough for the exercise. It shouldn’t be so heavy that it strains your lower back muscles. A good rule of thumb is to pick a weight plate that allows you to complete eight to 12 reps before fatigue sets in. Still, if you can complete at least eight reps without straining yourself, increase the amount of weight.
- Rest Between The Sets
One set of Russian twists should be enough for most people. However, if you want to improve your strength and build muscle mass, you can do more sets with a rest period between them. This way, your muscles will have time to recover before performing another set of Russian twists. If you want to do three sets of 10 reps, take at least two minutes off before starting your next set.
- Don’t Only Focus On One Side
It’s okay if one side is stronger than the other during Russian twists because it does happen quite often. However, even if one side feels stronger, it doesn’t mean you should only practice with that side. Make sure you focus on both sides evenly, so one doesn’t get overworked more than the other.
To Wrap Up: Is Russian Twist Exercise For Everyone?
The Russian twist exercise is a challenging core exercise that can have amazing results. The exercise also has the potential to create large amounts of stress on several abdominal muscles, and this can be risky.
However, if you follow our safety guide on avoiding any injury and focusing on proper form, you will be safe. Besides, you’ll maximize your strength development from twisting exercises.