The Russians have something of a monopoly when it comes to exercises named after nations. There are Russian press-ups and the Russian plank and a whole series of kettlebell manoeuvres. No other country seems to have penetrated the fitness market in the same way. There’s no Italian sit-up or Mexican squat. Maybe one day. Anyway, here’s the Russian twist.
The Benefits of the Russian Twist
The Russian twist is an excellent core-strengthener that does sterling work in targeting your abdominal muscles and lower back in particular. That includes the obliques, the muscles on the side of the classic six-pack, which can be neglected by straight up-and-down core exercises.
Your posture and balance will improve with regular twisting and, as an added bonus, you should really impress next time you try kayaking, as the strength built in your core will come in very handy when you wield a paddle.
How To Do It
- Start by sitting on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Then lean back so your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight at this angle throughout the exercise, as it will be tempting to hunch your shoulders forward.
- Link your hands together in front of your chest, then brace your core and raise your legs up off the ground.
- Rotate your arms all the way over to one side, then do the same in the other direction. Count that as one rep and aim for 20 in total, or set a timer for a minute and keep twisting till the beep goes off.
If Russian twists are proving too severe a challenge, then you can make it easier on yourself by not lifting your legs off the floor during the exercise. To make it harder, add in some weight by holding a dumbbell in each hand as you twist.
When the weighted twist gets too easy, you can turn to an exercise ball. Lean your upper back on the ball, bend your knees at 90-degrees and plant your feet on the floor. Then twist away, making sure you keep your back straight. Trying to avoid toppling off the ball will make everything all the harder.