You can work your core muscles from many different angles. Find out what benefits you can get from doing Russian twists.
One thing to note before going into the potential upsides is that some people will find the Russian twist exercise too uncomfortable on their spines.
If you have any issues in this area, you likely want to turn to more static or just different Russian twist alternatives.
1. Russian twists work a few muscles
One of the most straightforward but also important benefits of Russian twists is that they work a variety of muscles to a nice extent.
Growing and strengthening your muscles offers a variety of secondary positive effects. These can range from better general health to getting a more visually appealing body.
Here are the main muscles you work with Russian twists:
- Hip flexors
- To a tiny extent quadriceps
How many Russian twists you should do depends on what muscles you want to target and what your fitness goals are.
For example, to grow your oblique muscles, you would do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and potentially even up to 50) Russian twists with a weight where your muscles can barely handle these numbers.
Many people will find bodyweight Russian twists challenging enough for their muscle-related goals.
That being said, more experienced lifters can also consider one of the ways to do Russian twists with weights.
2. Russian twists can help you lose a tiny amount of weight
While Russian twists are definitely not the number one exercise for this next benefit, they do help with weight loss to some extent.
Losing weight involves making it so your body uses more energy than is coming in from your diet.
The movements from Russian twists require more energy than typical daily activities. Additionally, any extra muscle mass you build also offers a tiny amount of extra calorie-burning.
These things make it slightly easier to get into a situation where you start losing weight.
You can even predict the number of calories burned with Russian twists.
A rough estimation is that a 185-pound (84 kg) person will burn around 61 calories while doing Russian twists for 15 minutes.
This should make it clear that the results of 100 Russian twists a day won’t be that impressive in terms of weight loss but they do help to a tiny extent.
Besides that, remember that your lifestyle habits in other areas will influence your results a lot.
3. You can do Russian twists with weights
If you stick to the normal core exercises this next benefit won’t sound that special but there are a lot of core exercises out there that don’t make it easy to add weights.
To some extent, this is not that bad since the abs and obliques are not that strong. Many people can grow and strengthen these muscles with just their body weight.
At the same time, this is still worth mentioning for more advanced lifters.
Russian twists make it relatively easy to challenge your muscles with weights. You just hold a weight in front of your chest with your hands and you are good to get your gains.
4. Russian twists can build fast and slow muscle fibers
Not all muscles are the exact same. More specifically, two people who do the same Russian twist exercise can have different ratios of different muscle fibers.
It is common to put muscle fibers into the “type 1, slow-twitch muscle fiber” or “type 2, fast-twitch muscle fibers” (1).
These groups have their advantages and disadvantages.
More specifically, type 1 muscle fibers are generally better for extended efforts.
On the flip side, type 2 muscle fibers are better for short bursts of power.
You can actually influence what types of muscle fibers are more present by changing up your workouts. Russian twists make this relatively easy to do.
As you can expect, long sets of slow Russian twists tend to grow more type 1 muscle fibers.
On the flip side, if your body can deal with it, you can also do faster Russian twists with extra weights to focus more on getting type 2 muscle fibers.
5. You can do Russian twists almost anywhere
There are many sports and exercises where you need to be in certain places. Even if it is just to be able to use equipment that is a bit pricey or too big for your home.
These activities require more time to get to the location. Even if this is not that long in one trip, these blocks of time do add up over multiple workouts.
A benefit of Russian twists is that you don’t have to worry or spend more time on these things. You can just step out of bed and start doing this exercise.
All that is left is freeing up a few minutes of your time and you can work on your core muscles.
6. Russian twists are budget-friendly
Another potential downside of many exercise alternatives is that they require a decent amount of money.
This can often be a good investment but there are also sometimes ways to get similar results with less.
Russian twists are one of these examples of a budget-friendly way to work on your physical health.
Even if you are stronger and need extra weights to challenge your core enough, you could use something like a backpack filled with books or water bottles.
7. Russian twists can improve coordination and balance
How well you control the movements of your body and how balanced you can stay are skills that you can train.
Since Russian twists are somewhat challenging in terms of coordination and balance, they should be able to help you get better in these areas.
One question is how much getting better at these things in a seated position will benefit your daily life.
You likely don’t want to choose Russian twists if coordination and balance are the only positive effects you are interested in.