If you are looking for a fast and easy way to tone your shoulders, hips and core, then you have to incorporate the Russian twist in your exercise program.
It is an exercise that is common among athletes because it allows you to change direction and aids with twisting movements swiftly.
It is also a perfect exercise for you if you want to get rid of love handles, tone your midsection, and develop enough core strength that will aid posture, movement, and balance. The best part of it all is that it is not difficult to learn.
Muscles worked when doing the Russian twist
The following are the muscles that are targeted when you are performing a Russian twist;
- hip flexors
- latissimus dorsi
- scapular muscles
- erector spinae
- transverse abdominis
- rectus abdominis
How to perform a Russian twist
These are the ways to perform a Russian twist;
The following are the essential points to note before you perform a Russian twist;
- If you are a beginner, start by pressing your feet into the floor or fully extending them so that you can get a sense of the movement. You need to have the ability to stay in the initial position without a dumbbell before you can then add the weight. If this proves challenging, it is a sign that your core strength should be improved.
- Then you breathe deeply and steadily. Exhale while you twist and inhale while returning to the center.
- Ensure that you do not flail around. It is highly beneficial and safe if you perform this exercise with a slow and controlled movement.
- While twisting, ensure that you reach down to tap the floor beside you or keep your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Cross your lower legs if you want to gain more stability.
- Do not slouch or round your spine as you are meant to maintain a straight spine.
- You can rotate a bit through your upper back, however, ensure that you lock your lower back in place.
- The movement of your hands should be followed by your gaze.
- Weights that can be used for this workout include a kettlebell, dumbbell, or med ball, but it is not necessary.
These are the steps to perform a perfect Russian twist;
- Ensure that your knees are bent, then you sit on your sit bones while lifting your feet from the floor.
- Straighten and elongate your spine at an angle of 45 degrees to the floor, and also create a V shape with your thighs and torso.
- Straighten out your arms in front, clasping your hands together or interlacing your fingers.
- Then with the use of your abdominals, twist to the left, back to the center, and then to the right.
- After doing that, you have completed one rep. You should do about two sets of 8 reps if you are a beginner, and three sets of 16 reps if you are advanced.
Different variations of the Russian twist
The Russian twist comes in a lot of variations that are equally as effective as the original. These are the most common variations of the Russian twist;
- In this version, you are sitting on a decline bench while holding a weight or putting your hands together.
- Then you twist exactly as you would when doing the original version.
If you don’t have a weight, you can do the punching motion with your fists.
- Sit on the floor and keep your knees bent while pressing your feet firmly into the ground. Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand close to your chest.
- Keep your spine straight and sit back a bit.
- Exhale while twisting to the right, then you punch your left arm over to your right side.
- Inhale and revert to the center, and repeat the motion for the other side. You have completed one rep.
- Mount your twisting position. Then cross your left calf over your right as you twist to the left.
- Then uncross while twisting back to the center.
- Cross your right calf over your left as your twist to the right.
- Grab a weight and if you don’t have one, use a household object that weighs up to five pounds. Ensure you pick a weight that does not mess with your form.
- Hold a weight plate, medicine ball, or dumbbell between your two hands.
- Then you twist in the exact way as you would when performing the original version, ensuring that you tap the weight to the floor each time or keep it as chest level.
The Russian twist is typically a safe exercise that can be executed by almost anybody. If you have any health condition or injury that would be impacted by this exercise, you should speak to your trainer or doctor.
If you develop or have any issues with your shoulders, low back, or neck, you should use caution when performing this exercise. If done wrongly, you could develop pain in these areas.
Common mistakes when performing the Russian twist
It is a well-known fact that the Russian twist is a great bodyweight exercise that is more intense and superior than crunches. However, when performing this exercise, most people make the mistake of slouching and letting their knees move from one side to the other.
So, ensure that you bend your leg at the knees while sitting on the floor. Also, mount a V shape form and extend your arms fully before you start the twisting motion.
Benefits of the Russian twist
The following are the benefits of the Russian twists that athletes and all exercisers would experience if done properly:
It can be easily modified
A reason why the Russian twist is so popular is that it is simple to execute and easy to modifier no matter your skill level.
The Russian twist can be a viable core training exercise whether you perform it while hovering the floor, against resistance bands, with weight, or even on a tempo.
No equipment is required
Another reason why this is a widely incorporated exercise in most training environments is that you do not need to use any equipment to perform it, and it requires little to no setup at all.
Thanks to the ease of use, the Russian twist can be incorporated into class settings, home fitness or variation workouts, and also assistance exercises.
Isometric core strength
Isometric strength is when you are having contractions and promoting force with the absence of physical movement (like planks, wall sits). While performing the Russian twist, you twist eccentrically and concentrically.
However, you still need to maintain a controlled and rigid isometric contraction throughout your core, just like when doing daily activities like sprinting, baseball, and running.
Surely, you are not swaying from one side to the other, but being able to contract at the same time as having some rotations isometrically is a huge boost for most people.
If you want to increase your ability to resist spinal rotation, you will need to build your anti-rotational strength and control. This is an essential aspect for a lot of human sports and movements because your spine is very susceptible to shearing forces that could lead to injury.
Typically, small (10 to 15 degrees) twists are ideal for the obliques to increase neutral awareness to positions as well as gain muscle mass and strength.
Just as it has been established above, you will reach your goal if you also do exercises such as the landmine rotation of wood-chopping, but the Russian twist is very effective when it comes to anti-rotational training.
Other benefits of the Russian twist include;
- Russian twists are effective for burning calories. If you want to burn more calories, you can add weights or increase the intensity of the exercise. This would help you take care of muffin tops or love handles.
- The Russian twist is also an excellent workout for your abdomen. It focuses on all your abdomen muscles. The Russian twist is more than just getting six-pack abs or a flat stomach.
- Performing the Russian twist will make you less susceptible to suffering from cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke by using up the stored fat in your tummy area and burning calories.
- Strengthening your abdominal muscles would help prevent slouching and also improve your posture. This would trim your silhouette and boost confidence.
- Getting a trimmed abdomen and a strong core would help you to carry out your daily activities easily. It would also improve your balance.
The Russian twist is an amazing core exercise that can be added to your exercise program or used as a base to start one. When beginning, it is essential to start slowly and always take some time off so that your body can recover after each workout.
It is vital to take note of how your body responds to the workout and make the suitable adjustments, even if you have to take breaks from time to time or you have to go with an easier variation.