The best exercise to train your abs and obliques

    Beyond the typical exercises for abs, crunches, plates and others… You have to take into account the Russian turns or Russian twist, becoming more prevalent in gyms around the world. Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel and Fitness Editor Brett Williams explain what you need to know to do the Russian twist the safest way.

    Benefits (and risks) of the Russian twist for your abominals

    People like Russian twists because they take advantage of your core’s ability to rotate your torso, one of its four key functions. This move targets your obliques, the long muscles that run along the sides of your torso and help flex, laterally bend, and rotate your spine. If you want a strong, symmetrical core, your obliques need focused attention. Remember the 20 best oblique exercises for men.


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    The main problem with this move is that most people do the Russian twist very quickly. This is a common problem with many ab exercises, but it’s a particularly bad idea when you’re twisting your core under a load, which will increase the chance of injury. Samuel says that getting the move right is key, but there are so many ways to cheat, you’re bound to get it wrong, too.

    How to do the Russian twist safely

    Follow these guidelines to learn how to do the Russian twist more safely. Once you have read the step-by-step instructions, follow Samuel’s instructions to go deeper into the exercise.

    – Sit on the floor or a mat, keeping your feet on the ground. The heels should remain on the ground, but the toes can be off the ground. Squeeze your glutes for stability.

    – Lean back, forming a right angle from your torso in relation to your thigh.

    – Raise your arms in front of you. Watch your hands (and the weight, once you start working with a load); you will keep your eyes fixed there throughout the movement.

    -Rotate your torso from one side to the other, stopping for a while in the middle position between each rep. Move slowly and keep your eyes on the weight. Keep the load as far away as possible to keep the lever long to challenge your abs. Just work within your range of motion; once your hips and knees start moving, you’re all set.

    -Work for time or repetitions.

    -Keep your torso up.

    Ebenezer Says: Make sure your back isn’t bent forward to start the Russian twist. Instead, last as long as you can. Think of lifting your entire torso from the waist and then extending it lengthwise. This will protect your spine from injury while allowing your obliques to reap the benefits of the Russian twist.


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    Yes, you can do the Russian twist with your feet floating in the air, but start with your feet flat on the ground and master that. Too many people start floating their feet in the air too soon, because they’re told it levels out the motion.

    Keeping your feet on the ground offers you more security and balance.

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