Russian twists are the often-neglected core exercise your obliques need

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: Russian twists. 

Your abs and your core aren’t the same thing. Your abs are actually just your abdominal muscles running down the middle of your trunk, while your core is a whole group of muscles. That includes but is not limited to the abs, as well as the back, pelvic floor, glutes and obliques. 

The latter of these is frequently forgotten about, given it’s not as obvious as your six-pack muscles. But they’re important: they support spinal flexion and rotation as well as stabilise the ribs, shoulders and pelvis. If you want to improve the strength of your obliques, Russian twists are the way to go. 

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What is a Russian twist?

The Russian twist is a seated exercise that can be done with bodyweight or with a dumbbell or kettlebell. 

The exercise is great because:

It strengthens core muscles: primarily working your obliques, but also using your abdominals and back. 

It improves stability: you have to control the slow movement and if you lift your feet off the floor during your reps you’ll challenge your balance.

It’s functional: we move from side to side all the time so it’s important to have strength and power in that pattern. 

What muscles do Russian twists work?

A Russian twist works the core, including:

  • Obliques
  • Rectus abdominal 
  • Transverse abdominal 
  • Erector spinae
  • Lats
  • Hip flexors 
  • Hip abductors 

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How to do a Russian twist

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet placed firmly on the ground. 
  2. Engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine as you lift your torso off the ground. You should be making V shape with your thighs and stomach. 
  3. Hold your hands together in front of you and twist to the right-hand side. Ensure the movement comes from your obliques rather than hips or shoulders. 
  4. Twist back through centre to the left-hand side. 
  5. Repeat. To make it more challenging, lift your feet a few inches off the ground or hold a dumbbell in your hands.

Images: Stylist

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