The Russian twist exercise is a simple abdominal workout that works the core, shoulders, and hips. The twisting action, which is concentrated on the belly, tones the core muscles and is often done in repetition sets. The activity can assist develop upper-body strength, which may be helpful in a variety of sports, including tennis, swimming, football, hockey, golf, and boxing, among others. The exercise routine can be made more challenging by using any one of the several Russian twist variations.
It requires a lot of strength and concentration even though it appears to be a straightforward exercise. Exercises were created for Soviet soldiers during the Cold War which gave the Russian twists its name. It was initially employed as a military training exercise but slowly spread to other countries due to its many advantages.
“The Russian twist is generally safe for most people and easy to perform. You may consult with a doctor or professional trainer if you have any lower back injuries or health conditions that may be affected while performing the exercise. Avoid the exercise if you have pain or discomfort while performing it. Pregnant women should not do this exercise without consulting a doctor because it exercises the midsection”(MedicineNet)
What Are the Targeted Muscles in the Russian Twist Exercise?
The Russian twist strengthens your abs, or rectus abdominis, the muscles that run vertically along the front of your belly, but it also engages other core muscles. You are engaging the rectus abdominis muscles when you hold that flexed position, such as in the upper portion of a sit-up.
However, during the rotational component of the movement, both your intercostals and obliques (the muscles along the sides of your belly, also referred to as your side abs) must fire.
Along with your hip flexors, your transverse abdominis (your deepest core muscles, which aid in stabilization) must also activate. Therefore, there may be more muscles involved in the Russian twist exercise than you may realize.
Benefits of The Russian Twist Exercise:
It Develops Core Strength:
You might not immediately think of isometric training when considering the Russian twist because you will be twisting, which is dynamic rather than isometric. Your torso, however, will remain rather rigid even though you are twisting side to side.
You will develop a significant amount of isometric core strength by maintaining your erect posture rather than hunching or leaning to one side or the other. All of your reps should be performed while maintaining a constant 45-degree angle between your body and the ground. That’s a significant core challenge even before you start twisting.
No Need for Equipment:
To make this technique more difficult, you can utilize a weight plate, kettlebell, or dumbbell. However, the Russian twist is a bodyweight workout and may be done without any special equipment.
You can change how your feet and legs are positioned to up the difficulty without any additional equipment. In order to ensure that you are under tension for the longest possible period of time, you can also add tempo training to the mix. No equipment is necessary.
Helps You Develop Upright Posture:
You must maintain a stiff, erect posture with your torso throughout the Russian twist. Your body will learn to maintain an upright posture throughout active action by being locked at a 45-degree angle. When you add load to this movement, it gets even more challenging.
You can learn to maintain a firm isometric hold during dynamic activities by using the Russian twist. That can translate into good carryover into heavy barbell lifts, such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, which call for a stiff torso during loaded movements.
strengthen your obliques:
In light of all the sagittal plane training you’ve been doing, your obliques, or the sides of your abdomen, may likely get overlooked (think: squats and deadlifts). However, maintaining strong obliques is essential for supporting your heavy lifts. By strengthening the sides of your abs, you may prevent your lifts from swaying from side to side.
Additionally, if you’re an athlete who prioritizes aesthetics, developing more muscular obliques might significantly help you achieve the six-pack look you might be going for.
Improves the Power of Your Core Muscles:
Your core plays a key role in how force is distributed throughout your body. When your core is solid enough to transmit force adequately, you are likely to lift heavier and more successfully. The Russian twist emphasizes establishing stability and maintaining a rigid torso while moving. By performing exercises that need stability in the face of dynamic movements, such as those that are power-based, your core muscles will become better able to support your body.
Different Variations of the Russian Twist Exercise:
Traditional Russian Twist:
- Maintain a steady posture while raising your feet off the ground with bent knees.
- Create a V-shape with your thighs and torso by lengthening and straightening your spine at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
- With your hands clasped or interlocked, extend your arms straight in front of you.
- Twist to the right, then to the center, then to the left using your abdominals.
- Repeat for 3 sets, 8-15 reps in each set.
Decline Russian Twist:
- Get a decline bench, and angle it at roughly 45 degrees.
- You have the option of using a weight. This weight could be a medicine ball, dumbbell, or plate.
- Place your feet on the pads at the top end of the bench as you sit down.
- Lean back until your back is at a right angle to the bench while maintaining a straight back, shoulders back, and chest out.
- For one rep, while holding the weight out in front of you with your arms slightly bent, rotate your midsection to move the weight to your right side and then your left.
Lower Body Russian Twist:
- Lay on your back with your arms in a T position at your sides and your legs held straight up.
- Twist your legs to one side while keeping them straight and your shoulders firmly planted on the ground.
- Twist your feet back up and over to the opposite side when they are nearly touching the floor but not touching.
Standing Cable Russian Twist:
- On the machine, position the handle so it is at chest level.
- Hold the handle with both hands while standing side-on to the machine.
- Keep your arms straight.
- Keep your arms straight and rotate your torso to shift the handle to the opposite side.
- To avoid twisting your complete body, keep your gaze forward the entire time. This will ensure that you only shift your torso.
The Bottom Line:
Russian twists are an excellent core exercise to include in your regimen or to use as the base for one.
Give yourself time to recover between each core workout and start off slowly. Be aware of how your body responds to the workout and modify as necessary, even if this means choosing a simpler variety or occasionally taking a break.
For other types of workouts check the links below:
- Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises)
- Tabata training for Toning Your Body
- HIIT Training to Build Muscle and Slash Fat