Russian Twist Exercise

Russian Twist Exercise | Med Ball Oblique Twist

Want to learn how to do a Russian Twist or Oblique Twist?

No matter your experience level, I love this awesome exercise!  In general,  core exercise can make all of your abs stronger, from the obliques through the rectus abdominus giving you a flat tummy and strong core. The key secret here twisting from side to side as you fire the oblique ab muscles.  By making controlled rotation the focus,  you are able to pull in the muscle fibers that surround your core and lower back.  Women that want to really focus on a toned waistline will love adding Russian Twists into their normal ab fitness routine.

Russian Twists

So, what are Russian Twists or Med Ball Oblique Twists?

While some ab exercises like sit ups, planks and v-ups just focus on a specific section of the abdominal wall, I love that Oblique Twists incorporate so much more.  You still get the lower and upper ab involvement that those traditional exercises offer, but with a new well, ‘twist’!  The oblique muscles can be difficult to engage without adding rotational movements.  

If you are an advanced trainer or looking to up your game and take this to the next level, try adding weight at your waist level.  Really, any type of weight will work from a dumbbell to a weight plate, but I love the med ball for oblique twists in particular here as you can see from the photo.  Med balls come in different sizes and weights so that as your core gets stronger and as you become more comfortable with this type of oblique twist, you can increase the amount of weight you use pretty easily.  

When adding in this weight and making it a med ball oblique twist, be sure to hold the ball at chest level and keep your elbows tucked firmly in at your sides.  Your entire upper body should act as a unit throughout the Russian Twist so that your core stays engaged and the ball does not drop too low.  

Sometimes, I see people get overly worried making the ball touch the ground as you rotate from side to side, but that is not so important.  It is better to maintain the twist with your upper body being a solid unit as that will use more lower back muscles. When you lean forward too much to be sure the ball is touching the ground, you can place your lower back in a bad situation and cause strain there.

Are Russian twists or oblique twists bad for you?

Keeping good form will ensure that med ball oblique twist exercises are safe and effective. When you think about the movement, start by sitting up nice and straight, lengthening your back and pulling in your lower abs.  Something you might try to do if you were zipping up a pair of pants that are just a little too tight.  The muscle contraction that you do when you pull in or ‘suck in’ your abs is the same muscle contraction that you want to do with the med ball oblique twist.  

Once you are in that nice, tight position, slightly lean back to bring your upper back and shoulders a bit closer to the ground.  When you are in the proper position, you will just balance on your glutes.  

As an option for this challenging ab exercise, you can lift your feet off the ground and keep your knees either straight or bent.  This will bring the hip flexors into the med ball oblique twist more so and really will challenge your balance.

Ready to take your ab workout to the next level?  Try my Best Abs Workout for Women

Questions on form with the Russian Twist Exercise?  Check out my You tube Video!

Russian Twist Med Ball
Russian Twist Exercise with a Med Ball begins with a twist through the obliques!
Russian Twist Abs
When you are completing a Russian Twist for your core, keep the medicine ball a few inches away from your chest.
Russian Twist Ab Exercise
Complete the full rotation for the Med Ball Twist by really crunching down through your oblique muscles on the opposite side.

What is a Russian Twist Exercise or Oblique Twists?

Step-by-Step Exercise Demo:

1) To begin, sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Choose a med ball that is challenging, but still allows you to maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.  Holding the med ball with both hands in front of chest. Keeping the spine long and the abdominals tight, lean back slightly and lift the feet a few inches off the floor. If that is too difficult, you can keep your feet/heels down touching the floor through the med ball oblique twist.

2) In a controlled manner, begin to rotate your torso from the left to the right bringing the medicine ball cross your waist as you do it.  Be sure to keep your elbows tucked tightly at your sides and keep your chest lifted through the abdominal rotation.  Head back to the middle to complete the twist.  As you become more confident with this twist, you will be able to move more quickly. As well you can increase the amount of weight that you can use by choosing a heavier med ball.

Are there benefits of doing Kettlebell Russian Twists instead of Bodyweight or Med Balls?

Russian twists are a popular exercise that primarily target the muscles of the core, especially the obliques. Kettlebell Russian twists can offer several benefits compared to using body weight alone or other types of equipment:

  1. Added Resistance: The kettlebell adds resistance to the movement, making the exercise more challenging. This can help to increase the intensity of the workout and stimulate muscle growth in the obliques and other core muscles.
  2. Enhanced Muscle Engagement: Holding onto the kettlebell requires grip strength and stabilization, which engages additional muscles such as the forearms and shoulders. This can lead to a more well-rounded and functional core workout.
  3. Variety and Progression: Incorporating a kettlebell allows for progressive overload, meaning you can gradually increase the weight of the kettlebell as you get stronger. This helps to continuously challenge your muscles and promote growth and development.
  4. Improved Coordination and Balance: The uneven weight distribution of the kettlebell challenges your balance and coordination as you twist and rotate. This can lead to improved proprioception and overall stability.
  5. Full-Body Integration: While the primary focus is on the core, Kettlebell Russian Twists can also engage muscles in the lower back, hips, and legs as you maintain proper form and control throughout the movement.
  6. Caloric Expenditure: Engaging multiple muscle groups and adding resistance can increase the overall intensity of the exercise. This may lead to a higher calorie burn during the workout, supporting weight loss and fat burning goals.
  7. Time Efficiency: Kettlebell Russian Twists can be an efficient way to target your core muscles and achieve results in a relatively short amount of time. It’s a compound movement that works multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
  8. Versatility: Kettlebells are versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for a wide variety of exercises beyond Kettlebell Russian twists. This means you can easily incorporate them into your existing workout routine for added variety and challenge.

Remember that proper form is crucial when performing any exercise, including Russian twists with a kettlebell. Using the correct technique helps to minimize the risk of injury and ensures that you’re effectively targeting the intended muscle groups.

Russian Twist Kettlebell
Often times, weighted Russian Twists can be down with a kettlebell or dumbbell if you choose!
Russian Twist Kettlebell Ab Exercise
A Kettlebell Russian Twist is a super effective movement targeting those oblique abdominal muscles!

Do Russian twists make your waist smaller or wider?

Russian twists primarily target the muscles of the core, particularly the obliques. While they can help strengthen and tone these muscles, they are not specifically designed to directly change the width of your waist.

The idea of spot reduction, which means targeting specific areas of the body to reduce fat, is a common misconception in fitness. Exercises like Russian twists can help build muscle and increase muscle definition in the targeted area, but they won’t necessarily lead to a significant reduction in waist size on their own.

If your goal is to achieve a smaller waist, it’s important to focus on a comprehensive approach that includes a balanced diet, cardiovascular exercise for overall fat loss, and a variety of core exercises to engage different muscle groups. Combining these factors can contribute to a leaner and more defined waistline over time.

Keep in mind that genetics also play a role in determining the natural shape of your waist, and there’s a limit to how much you can change its width through exercise and lifestyle choices. In general, with moderate weight, Russian Twists do not make your waist wider.

What muscles do Russian twists work?

Russian twists primarily target the muscles of the core, particularly the obliques. The obliques are the muscles on the sides of your abdomen that help with rotation and lateral flexion of the spine. However, Russian twists also engage several other muscles to stabilize and support the movement. Here are the main muscle groups involved:

  1. Obliques: The primary muscle group targeted during Russian twists. These muscles allow you to twist and rotate your torso.
  2. Rectus Abdominis: This is the front portion of the abdominal muscles, often referred to as the “six-pack” muscles. While not the main focus of the exercise, they assist in stabilizing the spine during the twisting motion.
  3. Transverse Abdominis: This deep abdominal muscle plays a role in stabilizing the spine and maintaining proper posture during the movement.
  4. Erector Spinae: These muscles run along the length of your spine and help to stabilize and extend your back as you twist.
  5. Quadratus Lumborum: Located in the lower back, these muscles are involved in lateral flexion and stabilization of the spine.
  6. Hip Flexors: These muscles, located at the front of the hips, assist in stabilizing the pelvis and maintaining balance during the twisting motion.
  7. Glutes: The muscles of the buttocks contribute to maintaining stability and balance throughout the exercise.
  8. Transverse Plane Stabilizers: Various smaller muscles throughout the core and back work to stabilize your body as you twist.

It’s important to note that while Russian twists engage these muscle groups, they are not a comprehensive core workout on their own. To ensure balanced core development, it’s a good idea to include a variety of exercises that target different aspects of core strength, such as planks, crunches, leg raises, and back extensions. Additionally, incorporating full-body exercises and a well-rounded fitness routine can contribute to overall strength and stability.

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Russian Twists with a Med Ball Female