Forget sit-ups – this abdominal exercise blasts every muscle in your core

Not all abdominal exercises are created equal; no amount of sit-ups will build you the heart of your dreams. Instead, you need to find exercises that target all of the different abdominal muscles and pair them with full-body exercises and good nutrition.

But if you are running out of time, what ab exercise are you doing? The answer: Russian twists. Russian twists are great for targeting all of your core muscles. Even better, this move can help strengthen and stabilize your lower back and work on your balance.

But how do you do a Russian twist, and what are the best modifications to try? Read on to find everything you need to know about this powerful move.

How to Do a Russian Twist

To do a Russian twist, sit on an exercise mat (if you don’t have one, we’ve selected the best yoga mats for home workouts), and engage your core as you lean back, lifting your legs off the floor, so you’re in a V-shaped position. You can cross your legs if that helps, and tie your hands in front of your body. Brace your core, twist your torso from side to side, and remember to lower your hands to the side of you as you twist. Follow your hands with your eye area. Continue twisting from side to side without dropping your legs to the floor.

Remember to keep the movement slow and controlled. Don’t arch your back in the movement and don’t lean too far back. It’s also worth noting that Russian twists are one of the abdominal exercises that put a bit of pressure on your lower back, so if you suffer from back pain, it’s worth consulting your doctor before adding them to your regular workout routine.

What are the benefits of Russian twists?

Russian twists target all of the abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominis – which are the abdominal muscles that run down the front of the stomach and are the ones that are visible in a “six-pack” – the transverse abs, which are the most deep abdominal muscles; and the obliques, which run down the side of the torso.

The movement involved in a Russian twist forces you to really engage your core to stay seated, but it also works on your stability and targets your lower back muscles. These, in turn, can help with your posture.

Far from being just an aesthetic goal, a strong core is important for many sports, including running and weight training.

What are the best Russian twist modifications?

If you find Russian twists too difficult, you can try the same exercise with your feet lowered to the ground. To do this, sit on your seat bones and lean back to feel your core engage. Keep your legs in front of you, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Engaging your core, rotate from side to side.

Alternatively, if the Russian twist is too much on your lower back or pelvis, you can try a modification where you kneel instead of sitting on the mat. To do this, kneel down on your mat and lean your upper body back until you’re at about a 60-degree angle. Engage your core and glutes, and twist your torso from side to side.

If you find Russian twists too easy, why not add weight to the movement? Perform the same twist, but hold an adjustable dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands and lower the weight to the floor on each side of the body as you twist. You’ll feel the burn in no time.

Other exercises to try

Looking for more workout inspiration? We’ve picked the best ab workouts to try for free here, as well as the exercise that’s better than squats for developing your glutes, the ab exercise JLo swears by, and the barbell workout with over 1.3 million views.

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