Russian Twist Exercise

Russian Twist Exercise

Want to learn how to do a Russian 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.

So, what are Russian 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 Russian 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 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 bad for you?

Keeping good form will ensure that this exercise is 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 here.  

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 movement 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!

What is a Russian Twist Exercise?

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.

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.

What do Russian twists do for you?

Targeted ab muscles:
External Obliques
Internal Obliques
Rectus Abdominis
Transversus Abdominis

Ready to take these to the next level for a more difficult ab workout?