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Do This Russian Twist Exercise For Your Overall Abs

If you want to fire your core — and fast — moves that involve twisting your mid-body quickly get you there pretty much darn. That is why in many 360.

Do This Russian Twist Exercise For Your Overall Abs
Creator: Zaripov Andrei | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you want to fire your core — and fast — moves that involve twisting your mid-body quickly get you there pretty much darn. That is why in many 360-degree workouts, bicycle crunches and sideboard rotations take on a starring role. So the test on the Russian twist? Okay, it's yet another part of the core movements team that doesn't leave your side-body behind in doing all of your core working.

"The advantage of the Russian twist is [helps with] our ability to travel in a different motion plane and focus on using our obliques — a portion of our abs that is frequently overlooked in regular routines," says Ladder coach Sam Tooley. "It is a basic action and one that can be made more difficult by adding additional load or stress." Action like bending down or turning your body slightly to catch something is so much simpler when you work your obliques on the reg.

In case you've previously heard the term "obliques" thrown around in core classes, but have never known where they are, this is exactly the 411 here. The sides of your abs run up your internal and external obliques all the way up from your knees to your rib cage. Moves like crunches and planks don't effectively hit those side-body muscles because the muscles that frame the belly button, or the rectus abdominis, mostly use the strength. So when you're designing your own mid-body blasters, you can add Russian twists to fill any holes in your circuit that may otherwise be lacking.

Below Tooley breaks down, step by step, exactly how to master the Russian twist. And, a couple of ways to change the form to make it much harder than it already is (which really means something).

How To Learn Russian Twist, Step By Step?

  1. Go ahead and come to a seat on the floor or a yoga mat to set up for the pure bodyweight version of the move.
  2. Lay back slightly, without the back arching. Bend your knees off the floor and raise your heels. (Or, only rubbing the floor for more support) You should cross your ankles for added balance. Or try to glue your legs together as you begin to move, for an extra challenge. Stretch out your arms straight before you or clasp them together.
  3. Focus on expanding your chest from this starting position, and hollowing out your belly. Rotate the whole body in one device while pointing the fingertips to the left. Return to the middle and then repeat the same step on the right. Continue to switch sides until you reach the core all over.
  4. If you feel confident about Russian bodyweight twists, here's how to increase the complexity of the move.

Variation 1: Russian Hollow-Body Hold Twist

  1. Start sitting down once again.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor and lift your upper body off the ground around a foot so you're balanced on the bones of your leg. Put your arms straight out in front of you and keep the pose for three full breaths — engaging your heart.
  3. Turn your torso to the left then turn right. One of those sets should cover about your torso a full 180 degrees.
  4. Return to the center and hold that hollow-body for a further three full breaths.
  5. Continue on like this.

Variation 2: Russian Twist With a Dumbbell, Kettlebell, or Medicine Ball

  1. Start from sitting and — you know the drill — lift the heels and upper body off the ground, so that the only thing that hits the floor is your glutes.
  2. Grab the kettlebell, dumbbell, or medicine ball between your palms, right in front of your chest, and check-in with yourself to see if you have a challenging weight — but not so challenging that you wind up compromising your twists.
  3. Twist left and right, do your utmost to keep your legs completely quiet as your torso guides the motion.

Variation 3: Russian Twist With a Resistance Band

  1. Loops a resistance band around the wrists from the same seated position. Raise your heels, and take the taught band back off the stage. (You should feel your arms hanging over here already.)
  2. By shifting your hands, move your body to the left and the right by letting release the resistance band. Feel like it's burning all the way up your neck, down your shoulders, and down your side.

Variation 4: Russian Open Arm Twists

  1. Just sitting on your rear, pulling down or raising your feet, and retracting your torso.
  2. Twist open to the right, allowing you to brush the floor while your left fingertips touch the stars. Keep switching sides — this variation will open your shoulders and at the same time improve your hip mobility while your core works.

Variation 5: The Russian Twists Stability Ball

  1. Want to test your equilibrium with your Russian twists? If so, then that is the move. Bring your back onto the ball of stability and bend your knees to place on the floor.
  2. Engage your body with or without equipment to turn over to your left side — stretch your arms out to the left as you go. Engage your heart to come back to the middle and turn to your right side, either holding the dumbbell or hanging those arms on.
  3. Keep swinging back and forth, feeling all your body working to keep you balanced.

For some extra spice, incorporate Russian twists into this ab workout:

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YourFitnessRink - Fitness and Health Matters: Do This Russian Twist Exercise For Your Overall Abs
Do This Russian Twist Exercise For Your Overall Abs
If you want to fire your core — and fast — moves that involve twisting your mid-body quickly get you there pretty much darn. That is why in many 360.
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