How to Do Seated Oblique Twists With a Medicine Ball

The seated oblique twist exercise, sometimes called the Russian twist, is a very effective exercise for strengthening the abdominal muscles. Using a medicine ball in the exercise adds a challenge to the workout. You can do this exercise as part of a core strengthening workout along with exercises such as the plank, crunch, and bridge. It can be also part of a total body strengthening workout and is especially good if you are in a sport where you throw a ball or swing a club.

This is a simple medicine ball drill designed for strengthening and toning the arms. Used as cross training for martial arts this will improve your striking endurance and power.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (easier) or raised up off the floor (more difficult). If you have difficulty holding the position and your feet shift about, try tucking them beneath a stable object.
  • Contract your abs and sit at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold the medicine ball with both hands, directly in front of you.
  • Contracting your abs, twist slowly from your torso to your right and touch the medicine ball to the floor beside you. Pause to hold the position a moment.
  • Quickly, but smoothly, contract your abs and twist your torso back to the center position, and then proceed on to touch the medicine ball to the floor on the other side of you.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • To end, bring the ball in front of your body and sit up. Carefully place the ball on the ground without undue twisting.

Common Mistakes

If your form is sloppy, you will be placing a lot of stress on your lumbar vertebrae. If you find you are getting a rounded back and a lot of twisting of your lower back, work on the move without using a weight until you get the form right.

Holding Your Breath
It can be tempting to hold your breath. Be sure to breathe in and out normally throughout the exercise.
Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?
If you can’t find a medicine ball to use at your gym, you can use other weights in a variation. For example, hold a weight plate firmly by the edges between your hands with arms extended outward in front of you and perform the exercise. Twist until your arms are parallel to the floor on each side.

If beginning with a medicine ball is too challenging, perform the exercise with nothing your hands. Hold your arms extended out in front of you and follow the same motion as described above. Twist to each side until your arms are parallel to the floor (since there’s no ball to touch to the floor). This will help you become familiar with the exercise and build up your strength to the point that you can add the medicine ball to the exercise.

You can move up a step in intensity by holding a small stability ball during the exercise. Hold it between your hands with arms extended out away from the body. Twist to each side until your arms are parallel to the floor.

Steps 2

  • Stand with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hold your medicine ball in both hands. Choose a weight of ball that will be challenging but that you can also move quickly with.
  • Shoot the ball forward and quickly draw it back to your chest.
  • Twist to your left and shoot the ball out. Quickly draw it back in and return to center alignment.
  • Twist to your right, shoot the ball out, draw it in and return to center.
  • Shoot the ball straight up and then return to center.
  • Repeat these steps for a full 3-minute round as an interval in your Muay Thai training.

Up for a Challenge?
Performing this exercise slower gives it more challenge. Just be sure that you are not stopping between repetitions.
The mason twist is a version done with the legs extended and off the floor, as in a V-sit.

Safety and Precautions
This exercise places a lot of stress on the lower back, so it should be avoided if you have a back injury. If you feel any pain in your back or shoulders, end the exercise.

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