For all those thriving to strengthen their core muscles and aiming for a toned belly must have tried their hands on Russian twist exercise, but has it been effective?
The reason behind a lot of work without satisfactory results might be the form of the Russian twist. However, before understanding the right and most effective form, it is significant to consider what is a Russian twist and how does a Russian twist works to tone and build up the entire core muscles.
What is a Russian Twist?
Most probably, the Russian twist has got its intriguing name from the fact that it was first used by the Soviet Union during the cold war to train their soldiers. It sustained its position due to effective results and excellent impact on the usually ignored ab muscles.
Now, Let’s take a sneak peek at how does a Russian twist exercise works to enhance strength and improve your posture.
How Does a Russian Twist Exercise Work?
Russian twist exercises target what is called muffin fat or the side belly fat and work on the muscles that join ribs to the pelvic area. The repetitive twists work on the abdominal muscles, especially the transverse abdomen as well as the external and internal obliques.
One of the finest core exercises to tone abs and shoulders,i.e. Russian twist, can be performed in several ways according to one’s abilities and fitness level. Let’s begin with the traditional way of performing a Russian twist exercise.
How to Perform a Traditional Russian Twist?
Staying in the perfect form while performing any exercise is not only important for the best possible outcome but also to avoid injuries. Hence, here is a step-wise guide on how to perform a traditional Russian twist.
- Sit down on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Ensure that your heels touch the floor throughout.
- Bend your spine backward until your core feels engaged.
- Twist your torso from the left side to the right side slowly.
- Don’t forget to breathe.
- Repeat for at least 10-12 times and perform in sets of 3 with minor breaks of 10-15 seconds.
Precautions While Performing a Russian Twist Exercise
There is no doubt that a Russian twist exercise is perfect for everyone from beginners to intermediate and even for the advanced ones. However, there are certain pointers to be always kept in mind while trying to strengthen the core because any carelessness might result in a severe injury.
- The first and foremost thing to be remembered is to try out the exercise from the most basic level and then find out what level works the best for you. In layman language, start by keeping your legs flat and then start bending them a bit. Progressive overload is the key principle while starting your fitness journey.
- Secondly, make sure to perform the Russian twist in the perfect form. It is often noted that people tend to round the upper back portion or even their shoulders, which in turn makes it easier to do a complete twist on your torso. The correct form is the one where the spine and shoulders are bent straight and are in one line.
- Thirdly, over-rotation might also be a reason for an injury. Ideally, the rotation should dominantly be only in the thoracic spine, contrary to which a lot of people create a rotation in the lower area of the spine which is much less flexible than the upper one. It creates excessive pressure on the spine and hence elevates the chances of an injury while Russian twists.
How to Make Russian Twist Exercise Easier?
Since it is already mentioned that Russian twists are an ideal exercise even for a beginner, here is a quick guide on how to make it less strenuous and adjust it according to the fitness level one is currently at.
- The first thing that can help ease your core exercise is by keeping the leg flat on the floor instead of lifting it off which decreases the strength required from the core and distributes the body weight on the leg as well making it easier to perform Russian twist exercise.
- Another moderation that can aid in making the exercise easier is by rotating on one side in the beginning and then going to the other side once it starts feeling easy.
Now, the question arises for how to make it an appropriate exercise for people who are at an advanced level, Here is a comprehensive explanation for different ways to make it more difficult and burn the core off.
How to Make a Russian Twist Difficult?
It is really important to push yourself towards a new goal every time, you start to feel comfortable. The secret ingredient to a successful fitness journey is progressive overload.
Starting from the easiest level and gradually increasing the reps and weight is what is going to show results. Mentioned below are a few variations to include in your regular Russian twist exercise to make the most of the movement.
1. Weighted Twist
The best way to increase the effect of a Russian twist exercise on the obliques is to add weight which you might have usually seen people doing in gyms. Now, these weights can range from a basic dumbbell to a kettlebell or medicine ball, or even a sandbag. Anything you can hold onto while twisting your torso would work.
One thing to ensure here is that the weight is not affecting the form. The lean movement and rotation should be well balanced for avoiding any injury. In case it feels like the weight is impacting the form of forcing the upper body to get rounded, consider reducing the weights and increasing it gradually afterward.
Ensure that the form is not getting disturbed because of the weight and there is no extra strain on the lower back which might result in an injury.
2. Twist and Punch
To the usual Russian twist exercise, add a punch to fire up all the muscles from rectus abdominal to lower abdominals.
While twisting the torso with the leaned back and bent knees, punch with the other arm on the same side as that of the twist. Exhale while you twist and punch and inhale while coming back to the center and repeat the same on the other side.
3. Add a Resistance Band
Another way of having an extra challenge is by adding a resistance band, as it is clear from the name itself, it makes the body, especially the core work against an extra resistance.
The perfect way is to stay in the same position as a Russian twist exercise and hold a resistance band around your wrists. Stretch it to feel the resistance in the arms and shoulders already. Lift your feet off the ground, keep the band stretched, and slowly twist your torso making every movement count and burn your core out.
Ideally, the motion should be felt from the shoulders to the arms and down in the obliques.
4. Russian Twist with a V Shape Hold
Static movements have quite an effective result when it comes to strengthening the core but this becomes even more impactful when combined with a dynamic move. A great exercise for abs is a V-hold itself, however, merging it with a Russian twist exercise makes it even more effective for both motion, balance, and flexibility of the hip flexors.
Start in a seated position with heels on the floor or off the floor and lean over on the upper body. Keep arms straight in front of your upper body and hold the body in a v-shape. Now, rotate your torso while holding the position, from left to right. One rep is a complete 180-degree movement around the torso with the hold.
5. Decline Twists
Another version to elevate the difficulty level of a regular Russian twist is by using a decline bench which can be easily found in a gym or any other fitness center.
Sit on a decline bench with hands together or holding a weight plate or a dumbbell. Start twisting from left to right and that’s all.
A perfect belly with a sleek line chiseling out small squares out of the abdominal area is a dream for most people. Russian twists work to make them come true. Of course, it is not a one-day thing but demands an immense amount of hard work and dedication towards your goal.
One of the best things about this exercise is that other core routines often miss a few muscles while training that is covered when one performs a Russian twist, that too, in proper form.
A Russian twist targets the abdominal muscles for sure but also works on the upper body, including shoulders which in turn helps in strengthening the whole upper body and aids in improving balance.
Nevertheless, it is vague to depend on just one thing to accomplish all the goals, therefore ensure a healthy protein-rich diet and combine this useful Russian twist exercise with strength training and cardio in appropriate amounts for the best possible outcome.