A medicine ball is a weighted ball that is approximately the same size as a basketball, and can be used in the performance of a number of difference strength training exercises. The Russian twist with a medicine ball is a great exercise that can be incorporated into any fitness routine. Though this exercise can be effective in strengthening your lower back, when improper technique is followed, it can also result in back pain. Be sure to follow some basic principles in order to ensure optimal results and prevent any possible injury. If you are concerned about your ability to perform this exercise, be sure to consult with a personal trainer in order to provide additional assistance.
Benefits of the Russian Twist
The Russian twist is an effective exercise that has increased in popularity over the years as a challenging way to strengthen the abdominals and lower back. In addition, unlike more basic abdominal-targeting exercises, which typically focus only on the muscles in the front of the abdomen, this exercise can also effectively strengthen the obliques, which are the muscles that are located on the sides of your torso, over your ribcage. Strengthening these muscles can help to provide even more stability in your core, helping to prevent back pain and providing you with a great ability to perform everyday activities.
Performing the Russian Twist
To perform this exercise effectively, start by sitting on an exercise or yoga mat which has been spread out on the ground. Sit tall, with your legs extended out in front of your body. Hold a medicine ball in your hands. Carefully rotate your torso to the right, while at the same time bringing the medicine ball to the ground near your right hip. Tap the ball lightly on the mat. As soon as you have done this, rotate your torso to the left, and bring the medicine ball towards the ground near your left hip. Again, tap the ball lightly on the mat. Continue rotating your torso, tapping the ball on the ground until at least 20 seconds have elapsed.
Challenging Yourself While Performing the Russian Twist
The basic form of the Russian twist is relatively simple, and therefore with time and practice you will eventually need to increase the intensity of the exercise in order to maintain and build your strength and muscle mass. One great way to do this is by increasing the tension placed on the abdominals. To do this, start by lifting one leg off the ground. Roll your body weight back slightly on your tailbone, keeping one leg extended on the ground, and the other extended in the air as straight as possible. Perform the Russian twist in the same manner as described above. When this becomes too easy, lift both legs off the ground, keeping them extended and as straight as possible. Make sure to roll your weight back onto your tailbone. Use the muscles in your abdomen and lower back to help maintain your balance while performing this exercise.