The Russian twist exercise is a helpful exercise to build shoulders and core strength. It is a widespread technique among professionals in sports as it helps in improving rotational movement. Also, it might look like a simple exercise. However, it needs a lot of support and strength. The Russian twist exercise gets its name after the movements made for Soviet soldiers in the Cold War. Its popularity today makes it among activities that people perform globally. The best isometric exercises for the core and other muscles are mountain climbers, the superman, bridge exercise, boxing, fire hydrant, and the dead bug exercise.
How to do the Russian twist exercise
The Russian twist exercise comes with simple rules, which we present below:
- Root right into your pelvic core when you lift your feet from the ground. Keep your knees in a bending position.
- Straighten as well as elongate your back at an angle of 45 degrees from the ground. Next, create a V-shape using your thighs and the torso.
- Reach your arms outward to your front and interlace your fingers. You can also clasp your hands together.
- Use the abdominal muscles for twisting to the right. Bring your core back to the center and then turn to the left.
- Repeat and do around three sets of 16 reps each.
The best form for the exercise
- For beginners, you need to press your feet on the ground or have them extended straight out until the movement becomes second nature.
- Take deep breaths and perform the exercise slowly. Exhale during the twists and then inhale for returning to the center.
- When you twist, keep your arms parallel to the ground. You should be able to tap the floor beside you.
- Engage your back or abdominal muscles as you do the exercise.
- Maintain a straight back and don’t slouch or round your spine.
- Allow your eyes to follow your hand movements.
Variations of the Russian twist exercise
There are a lot of variations that come with the Russian twist exercise. Some of these variations are:
Weighted Russian twist exercise
Hold a weight plate, dumbbell, or a medicine ball between your hands. Grab any compact item if you don’t have a weight. Choose the weight which enables you to use the proper form. Perform the twist in the same way as the original variation. Also, keep your weight at chest level and tap it towards the ground every time.
Leg-Cross Russian twist exercise
This is how you can do the Leg-Cross Russian twist exercise:
- When you twist towards the right side, cross the right calf over the left one
- Uncross, when you are returning to the center
- Cross the left calf over the right when you twist towards the left side.
- Continue to repeat this movement by alternating from left to right.
Punch Russian twist exercise
Punch twist exercise is a Russian twist exercise that you can do with the following movements:
- With the move, try making a punching motion with the fists rather than using a weight
- Sit with your bending knees and your feet pressing firmly on the ground. Hold your hands next to your chest.
- Sit back a little and keep your spine straight.
- Exhale when you twist towards the left and punch your right arms across the left side.
- Inhale and then do the same movement on the right twist.
Decline Russian twist exercise
The decline Russian twist exercise is an effective variation of the classic Russian twist exercise. You can do this exercise with the following steps:
- Sit on a decline bend as you hold your hands together. You may also hold weight in your hands.
- Now, twist as you would do in the original exercise.
Mistakes many make while trying to perform the Russian twist exercise.
Speeding in the Russian twist exercise is not the thing you need to do. As you rush through this movement, you reduce the total time under tension. It eventually means that your abs will work for less time. Also, if you are too quick for the exercise, you may use momentum instead of your muscles. It will reduce the tension. As a result, the effectiveness of the exercise will decrease.
Do not make your lower back rounded as you feel fatigued. However, this move can make the exercise less effective. In addition, if you arch your lower back, then you lose abdominal engagement.
If you do not perform this exercise in the right manner, you might increase the chance of muscle strain or back pain. Also, you need to remember that the Russian twist exercise is a core exercise. Resultantly, your back will only function to stabilize your core.
Do not twist your lower back, and you will not stay rigid enough for your torso. With time, an increase in the rotation of your spine will be dangerous for you. With the Russian twist, your spine must stay straight. Do not lean in too far, as this will cause you to slouch. Also, do not lean back as you lean back; the momentum will take you more backward.
Leaning will increase the overall risk of getting lower back pain. In addition, it will also reduce your abdominal tension, which defeats the purpose of the exercise. Do not be in a tense mode as you perform the exercise. Do not enable your knees to move side to side; you will take the rotation away from your body torso. This rotation is the most important point of doing this exercise.
The muscles the exercise works and strengthens.
Russian twist exercise mainly targets the core muscles. In addition, it targets the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, hip flexors, scapular muscles, and the latissimus dorsi.
Last words on the exercise
Russian twist exercise is an excellent exercise for a core workout that you can add to your routine. You can also incorporate it into your more complex workout programs. You can begin by building up gradually. Allow yourself the time to recover as you do each workout for your core. Also, watch your body’s response to the activity and then make adjustments accordingly. You can include stretching, cardio, and other strengthening exercises with the Russian twist exercise for the best results.