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Russian Twist, Medicine Ball

Type: Abs
This Russian twist is an effective exercise for developing the abs, and is performed by rotating the body from side to side with the body in a v position. It comprises of multiple movements and requires good balance, established core strength and coordination. Below you'll find a video guide and step by step instructions that describes the correct technique for the Russian twist with medicine ball exercise.
Level :  Equipment : Yes
Lower Abs
Upper Back

Russian Twist, Medicine Ball Steps:

Step 1:
Sit on a gym mat holding a medicine ball in both hands.

Step 2:
Make sure you find your center of balance and then raise your feet off the floor so that you are balancing on your buttocks.

Step 3:
Hold the medicine ball out in front of you with straight arms.

Step 4:
Twist the torso to the left and then to the right, reaching and planting the medicine ball on the floor each side.

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Russian Twist Medicine Ball

Russian twists are cool, really cool. Not to mention the fact that the name is supposedly derived from a Russian exercise routine from the Cold War. It s got story and it s got ease, there s no doubt about that. Although it is usually regarded as a women s kind of exercise, its overall benefits cannot be denied, so it is actually highly recommended for both sexes.

It goes without saying that taking up to 30 minutes of exercises every other day increases your health substantially. It is the kind of exercise that urges you to keep it simple, meaning that it doesn t necessarily require any equipment, fancy gear or going to the gym.

The Russian Twist s Benefits and the Muscles it Targets

We are probably familiar with the notorious belly fat, which is a real pain in the ass, especially because it is so hard to get rid of it. Women in particular have this problem, but nevertheless men make no exception. The bad news is that this type of fat triggers serious health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases.

Overall it is a core exercise, it uses all your abdominal muscles, your lower back ones, your internal and external obliques and the rectus abdominis. Having all these muscles worked out, one enhances his/her posture and balance and eases the everyday activities to a great extent.

And the most convincing argument is that it is really pleasant to execute, as it is not that kind of routine that gives you a hard time and every time you have to practice you do it with reluctance.

Now let s Begin with the Basics: How to Perform a Seated Russian Twist

Step 1: Sitting on the floor or on a yoga mat, bend your knees and place your heels on the ground. The distance between your heels and your butt should be 1 foot in average. After you ve mastered the feet on the ground version, you can very well start doing the regular one, with your feet lifted from the ground and sustained by your core. This is actually the right version of the Russian Twist. Moreover it is usually done with a medicine ball in your hands, a dumbbell or some other object you can easily grasp.

Step 2: Start leaning back until you feel your abdominal muscles engaged in preventing you from not falling. Keep the back straight the entire time.

Step 3: Hold your arms extended in front of you, one on top of the other; they should be at about the same level as the rib cage.

Step 4: Pulling your navel towards your spine, twist gently to one side of the body, while you exhale. Inhale before starting the second twist on the other side of the body.

Step 5: Exhaling, perform the second twist of this first rep.

Step 6: For the regular version, the one with a medicine ball for instance, the ball must touch the ground on each side, every time you rotate. You may not be able to do this at the beginning, as the range on your twists really depends on the flexibility of your lower back, but tend to try and make it touch the ground every time you twist.

It s the ribs that are doing the rotations here, not your arms or any other part of your body. You also have to keep your eyes on the object you are holding in your hands, so that your shoulders will naturally move along with your abdomen throughout the entire routine.

It s recommended that one set should contain at least 12 to 16 reps. The weight of the medicine ball should vary between 6 and 12 pounds. But always start with lightest one.

10 Russian Twist Variations


1. The Russian Twist with the Medicine Ball Close to your Body This variation is really efficient if you are looking to really increase the weight of the medicine ball. Keeping it close to your body while you twist makes it easier for you to do that.


2. The Russian Twist with the Bouncing Ball In case your medicine ball bounces, you can try this fun variation as well. The thing is that while you do the rotations, your arms have to go above your head and slowly through the ball towards a landing point close to your body. As it lands, grab the ball, and while doing the twist through it again to the other side with your arms above your head. The advantage of this exercise is that it keeps your focus on the ball and on catching it rather than on the pain you may experience in your abdominals.

Also don t forget about the correct position with your back really straight.


3. Russian Twist with Medicine Ball or Swiss Ball They mean the same thing, but are commonly referred to in both ways.

You probably guessed what the medicine ball Russian twist is all about: keeping your balance on a stability ball, which can prove really challenging sometimes. For this one just lie on the stability ball with your back, while your arms are pointing to the ceiling. Your hands must be clasped together. Rolling your left shoulder off the ball, twist to the right, with your hands pointing to the same direction.

It is awesome for your obliques, lower back, transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus. Moreover it significantly improves your speed and rotational capabilities. The arms become one with your core and you back is better protected. Placing yourself directly on the floor can be unpleasant for some. Moreover your doing the Russian twist on a Swiss ball beds you back in a different way, and it s the best solution for the ones who experience pain in their lower back.

Now there s something else you should consider when you start working out with the help of such a ball: its size. So it s probably not safe to just borrow it from a neighbor, you have to take your height into consideration when using one. So if you are are less than 5 high, buy an 18-inch one. If you are in the 4'11"-5'4" height range, get yourself a 22-inch one. If you are 5'4"-5'11" high, get yourself a 26-inch one. And if you are 5'11"-6' 7" high, buy a 30-inch one. And if you are higher than all of the above, buy a 34-inch ball. We re talking about the diameter of the ball here.

Investing in it is really worth it and safe, as it was initially designed for physical therapy, so you can imagine the advantages. The Russian twists with medicine ball rule!


4. The Standing Russian Twist For this variation you need either a wall to throw the ball into, or it s best to get a partner who can throw the ball back. Just stand up with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping the arms straight in front of the abdomen, holding the ball. Now there are two options, you can either rotate your upper body to your right and to your left keeping your arms extended, or there s the one that requires a partner you can through the ball to while rotating.


5. The Lower Body Russian Twists By doing this exercise continuously during a set you can really put your obliques to hard work. If performed slowly, it become more of a back stretching exercise, so we wouldn t necessarily want that while focusing on the abs.

Just lie on your back and lift your knees up at a 90-degree angle. Your arms are extended on each side and your palms are facing the floor. They support your entire body throughout the movement. Now moving from your waist, simply rotate your body to the right, keeping your back on the floor.And then to the left. And here you have one rep. In case you want to increase your twist, look in the opposite direction from where your feet are.

Moreover there s more to this one, as you can perform it with your feet straight, for extra muscle effort.


6. The Kettlebell Russian Swing The first alternative to this one is to just perform a regular Russian Twist holding a kettlebell instead of a medicine ball. However there s a second option that has nothing to do with the conventional move as we know it, as it is a swing, not a twist, but works the same muscles and even more.

This is a more complete exercise because it also puts your legs to work. Holding the kettlebell s handle with both hands stand up with your feet wider than your hip-distance. In the starting position, the palms of your hands are facing down and the arms are in front of you. Now bend the knees slowly and move your hips towards your back, therefore slightly lowering your body. In an explosive movement, just swing the kettlebell between your legs towards you back, moving you hips forward. Your core and the glutes are engaged in this motion the whole time. But your hips are conducting the move, not your arms aided by the kettlebell s momentum.


7. Barbell Russian Twists The barbell Russian twist is a total body exercise, so it s basically this routine we ve been talking about in this post and much more. In addition to the muscles that are usually trained by the common Russian twist, this one also involves your buttocks, your thighs, your hamstrings and shoulders.

Your needing a barbell for this one is obvious, but you will also need a place to fixate it in, such as the place where 2 walls meet, or the whole of a 45-pound plate. Or whatever you think will do the trick. You have to load the barbell at the upper end, or at both ends. Don t adventure yourself in using heavy weights if you are a beginner. A light weighted plate can also do the trick.

Bringing the weight up at your eye level or a bit higher, hold the barbell with both hands. While lowering the bar to one side of your hip, keep your arms straight. Rotating your back, bring the barbell to the other side of your body. And there you have your first rep. Don t forget to keep both your arms and the back straight throughout the entire routine.


8. The Cable Russian Twists - You have to use a cable machine for this one, with a double handle rope attachment at the top stationary setting. Taking a handle in each hand, stand up in front of the machine. Your legs should be really fix so that they don t get to help your core during the process. Let the resistance pull your arms to the attachment point. The arm that is the closest to the machine must be almost fully extended to the side.

Now using the core muscles, pull the cable in a single motion across and in front of your body in a diagonal movement. For doing this one right, you have to bend the legs and to pivot the hips until you are facing the opposite way from the machine. The arms should be almost extended at the end of the move. Also make sure you are using the abdominals and the lower back muscles to drive you through the movement

Once the arms are extended at the end of the move, perform it the other way around.

After having finished the diagonal chops set, got to the horizontal side chops. You do this by reattaching the cable at a point that corresponds to your chest height. Grasping the cable with both hands, stand up at right angles to the machine. Your legs are also kept at shoulder width apart.

Now bring the cable across your body and in front of the chest while you pivot through your hips with the legs bent. The move ends when you are facing away from the machine and your arms are extended. Return using the same arc to the beginning position. Don t forget to change sides after one set.

The best thing is to consult a video on how to perform the cable Russian twists if you think the written explanation is too complicated to understand.


9. The Decline Bench Russian Twist So grab a medicine ball, a weight plate or a dumbbell to hold with both hands. Position your feet on top of an incline bench and sit down on top of it. In order to prevent your lower back from touching the bench, do half a sit-up. Holding the weight in your hands and keeping your arms extended in front of you start the exercise by turning your core as far to your right as possible. Now it depends: you either complete a full set on one side and then on the other, or you can just alternate as we ve described in almost all of the above exercises.

Be careful not to arch your back in any direction, and also not to bend your hands.


10. The Cycling Russian Twist Apart from that six-pack, this variation works your hips pretty good. So sit down on the floor and create that 45-degree starting position with your feet lifted from the ground. Put your palms together and hold them straight in front of you. Take care to have your elevated feet also parallel to the floor. Extending your left leg, twist to the right side and pull the right knee towards your chest. Both your legs are lifted from the ground throughout the whole exercise. Change sides: when you rotate to your left, straighten your right leg and bend the left one to your chest.


The Russians definitely know how to do their thing. So if they invented this exercise for physical self-improvement, there must be something about it that works wonders. In case you find this to be sort of freaky, try the Swiss ball Russian Twist for a more balanced range of influences.

It appears that the Swiss ball was actually invented by an Italian, AquilinoCosani, back in 1963. Initially known as Pezzi balls, they were first used in infant therapy by a woman called Mary Quinton,who was a British physiotherapist working in Switzerland. So here you are. A lot of nations involved in a single workout routine. You needn t be afraid of the Russian Twist of the routine. Just joking here.


Another funny thing about the Swiss ball is that it was recommended on several occasions by experts to replace the common office chairs that are systematically destroying our backs. It compels you to always maintain the right posture in order to prevent yourself from falling. So no more hunches or lower back pains should occur after adopting this ergonomic solution.


It is also used as a birth aid during labor, as it reportedly helps the baby s head to descend into the pelvis. The mother must sit down on the ball with her arms on the bed or any other supporting object available around and rock her hips back and forth. It is believed to help the mother handle contractions more easily, therefore making it easier for the infant to come out. So what else do you need to know in order to start incorporating thisab exercise in your every workout routine?

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