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How to Do Russian Twists with Perfect Form

Published August 31, 2018
Elisa Silva

Written By: Elisa Silva

Elisa has over 10 years of experience in recipe writing and has written multiple cookbooks over the last year

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<article> <section> <p>When it comes to ab exercises, most of us know the standards—crunches, sit ups, and planks. But there are other movements you can do to target specific muscles in the abdomen to ensure your entire core is getting attention. These moves can help you to zero in on particular areas such as your obliques or love handles as well as your lower and upper abdominal muscles. Here we’re going to teach you a move that will hit your obliques while pumping your ab muscles: the <i>Russian twist</i>.</p> <p>For the Russian twist, you’ll start in a seated position on the floor with your knees together and bent at a 45 degree angle. To perform the movement, you’ll lift your feet a small distance off the floor then alternate rotating your torso to the left and the right. This move will help you build strength, while learning to stabilize your core which is great for protecting your spine.</p> <p>If you’re struggling with the Russian twist at first, try beginning with this modified yoga pose: the <i>assisted boat pose</i>. For the boat pose, you’ll start in the same position as the Russian twist, but lift your feet a little higher off the ground and simply hold them there. If you find this challenging to hold, either place your hands on the ground behind you or grab onto your knees for support. </p> <p>Once you’ve perfected the Russian twist, you can try out the <i>bent knee lying twist</i>. For this move, you’ll lie down on the ground with your feet on the floor and your knees together at a 45 degree angle. Then, with your knees still together, drop them down towards your right side. Press them back up to the starting position and repeat on the left side, alternating between the two until you’ve finished your set.</p> <p>Finally, you’ll be ready to take on the <i>straight leg lying twist</i>. As you might guess, this move is almost exactly the same as the bent knee lying twist. Instead of having your knees bent, keep your legs straight and together, pointed up towards the ceiling. Same as the bent knee version, you’ll perform repetitions by lowering your legs to one side, arching back up to the top, then dropping to the other side.</p> <p>For now, let’s learn how to do the Russian twist with perfect form!</p> </section> <section> <header>Instructions:</header> <ol> <li>Sit on the ground with your knees bent at around a 45-degree angle. Squeeze your knees and your feet together and keep them squeezed throughout the movement.</li> <li>Lean your torso back a little bit and lift your feet off the ground so you’re balancing on your tailbone. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-1.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-1.jp2" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-1.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-LR-1.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="russian twist"> </picture></li> <li>Place both of your hands together then rotate your torso to touch your hands to the floor on your right side. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-2.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-2.jp2" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-2.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-LR-2.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="russian twist"> </picture></li> <li>Return to the starting position then twist your torso to touch your hands to your left side. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-3.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-3.jp2" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-3.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-LR-3.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="russian twist"> </picture></li> <li>Continue alternating until you’ve reached the desired number of repetitions.</li> </ol> </section> <section> <header>Things to keep in mind:</header> <ul> <li>Inhale as you drop your hands down and exhale when you return to the starting position. This will keep you focused on your form while getting the blood pumping to your muscles. </li> <li>The biggest thing to avoid is slouching! Open up your chest, pulling your shoulders back and keeping your head nice and tall. Make sure that you’re balanced well before you start doing the movement. </li> <li>Focus on keeping your knees squeezed together. They’re going to want to come apart as you do the exercise, but you need to keep them together to get the full benefit. <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-4.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-4.jp2" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-4.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/inst-beg-russian-twist-LR-4.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="russian twist"> </picture></li> </ul> </section> <section> <header>Conclusion</header> <p>The Russian twist is an incredible move for working your obliques while creating tension in your abdominal muscles. Stay focused on keeping your torso upright, your knees squeezed together, and your body balanced on your tailbone. This guarantees you’ll get the greatest benefit from this move.</p> <p>You’ve got a few options if you’re struggling to make this work at the start. You can modify the Russian twist by either reducing your range of motion or by touching your heels to the ground to help you stay balanced. The assisted boat pose—where you’ll simply balance on your tailbone in a similar position with your arms on the floor or on your knees for support—is also a good choice for beginners.</p> <p>When you’ve nailed the Russian twist, you’ll be ready to try the bent knee lying twist. With your back on the ground, legs squeezed together and bent at a 45-degree angle, you’ll drop your knees down to the right then the left. This move is great for hitting your obliques hard, so you’ll definitely want to work your way up to it!</p> <p>Once you’ve mastered the bent knee lying Leg Raise, you can move on to the straight leg lying twist. For this variation you’ll perform the exact same motion as the bent knee version, but with your legs straight and pointed at the ceiling. Straightening your legs creates more tension in your core than bending them, making this move great for busting belly fat and toning your core.</p> <p>One more great thing about the Russian twist—you can blast your obliques anywhere you’ve got space to sit down on the floor. Try a few sets during your next workout or hop off the couch and do a few repetitions when you have some spare time at home.</p> <p>If this exercise is too easy, try <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/perfect-form-bent-knee-lying-twist/">Bent Knee Lying Twists</a>.</p> </section> </article>

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