“Any time you get challenged in a direction that isn’t just forward or backward—like you get knocked off balance or pushed against something, or are just carrying something on one side—you have a better chance of successfully navigating that force if you have strong core stabilizing muscles,” Miklaus says.
Are Russian twists bad for you?
If performed correctly, Russian twists can be a safe addition to your core routine, but there are some safety considerations you should keep in mind first. Mainly, you need to make sure your form is on point throughout the exercise. To do so, first you want to make sure you are keeping a neutral spine, says Miklaus.
“A lot of people tend to round forward at their shoulders, or round their upper backs—they sort of collapse and crouch down,” he says. “You want to stay tall throughout the move, with your neck long and shoulders back, which will help you keep your back flat.”
Another safety issue with the Russian twist has to do with over-rotation. When the move is done effectively, the rotation should come only from your thoracic spine, or from your ribcage and up, says Miklaus. But some people end up creating rotation lower down in their lumbar spine when performing the move, which does not have as much natural rotational ability as the T-spine, he says. This is what can lead to overstressing your lower back.
“You want to make sure you’re not rotating too much, and that the rotation you are doing is coming from north of your belly button,” Miklaus says.
Are Russian twists good for beginners?
Because of the great importance on proper form with this exercise, the Russian twist is a more advanced core exercise. If you’re a beginner just starting out, you may want to focus more on more beginner-friendly core exercises first, says Miklaus. For instance, this beginner core strength workout will teach you how to fire up your abs, which is an important step to master before you start more dynamic core moves. Russian twist alternative exercises for beginners include moves like planks, bird-dogs, and dead bugs.
How can you make the Russian twist exercise easier?