Doing a Russian twist with a stability ball is good for your core abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles of your back and your obliques. It will help to improve your balance and flexibility, and is particularly good for you if you enjoy sports like golf or tennis, which require a lot of arm swinging and back movement.
How to Perform Russian Twists on a Stability Ball
Make sure your ball is the right size for your height before you begin. To test this, sit on the ball with your feet resting flat on the ground. Your knees should be at right angles, or your ball might be the wrong size. It should also be properly inflated. A properly inflated ball will allow you to sink around 6 inches when you sit on it.
- Sit on the ball. Now, carefully walk your feet out in front of you so that you are lying on the ball, face pointing to the ceiling, with the ball under your shoulders. If you need to, grip the ball with your hands for balance while you get into position.
- Stick your arms out straight toward the ceiling, over your chest with your hands flat together. Your legs should be at right angles, with your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet about shoulder width apart. Keep your buttocks tight and your back straight. You should be looking straight up, with your shoulders relaxed.
- Keeping your hips as still as possible, rotate your shoulders so your upper body twists to one side. One shoulder should be pointing at the ceiling, the other at the floor (while resting on the ball). You should try to move your whole torso with the motion, and not just your arms.
- Return to the starting position, then roll to the other side. Repeat the motion as many times as you want, remembering to do equal reps for each side. Try to keep your back and legs straight, your stomach muscles tensed and pull your shoulder blades back for the best effect. Keep your feet as still as possible.
How to Increase the Difficulty of Russian Twists
Increase the number of repetitions and sets you do of this exercise until you need a new challenge. If you find it very difficult to balance yourself on the ball, you can have someone spot you by holding the ball steady, or try performing these on the edge of a bed. However, this will decrease your muscle engagement.
To increase the challenge, you can hold a weight or medicine ball clasped in your hands. Don't try to use a very heavy one immediately, but work your way up. You can also try placing your feet closer together as this increases the amount of balance needed.
This exercise requires a fair amount of balance and flexibility so be careful not to fall while you do it. When performed correctly it can really loosen your shoulders and back, as well as strengthen the muscles in your torso.