Having a small waist is one of the most desired traits when coming up with fitness goals. When coming up with aesthetic workout plans, many women and men design their workouts around how to taper their waists.
Realistically, for women, it’s seen as one of the sexiest body features you can have along with a round butt or heart-shaped butt. For men, a smaller waist gives you those perfect V-lines on your lower abdomen.
To be able to shrink your waist gives you that defined snatched look around the midsection.
The Russian twist is one of the most popular go-to moves for tight obliques these are the waist muscles. Let’s take a trip and walk through the Russian twist.
Now, we’ll break this move down and help you understand whether Russian Twists can make your waist smaller.
What is a Russian Twist?
To start off, the Russian twist is one of the simplest moves you can do to build stronger obliques. These muscles located along the sides of your body are also known as your waist muscles.
Now, let’s walk through how to do a Russian twist.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Lean back slightly and keep your back straight, bracing your abs as you move. Your body should form a V-shape with your torso and thighs.
- Clasp your hands together in front of you. Lift your feet to, balance on your “sit bones” (the back part of your pelvis that you would sit on).
- Twist your body to one side, bringing your hands down towards the floor near your hip.
- Keep your abs activated as you move.
- Return to the center, then twist to the other side.
- Keep going, alternating from side to side.
- Continue this movement for 10 reps (one complete rep = a twist to each side).
- Aim for 3-4 sets of 10 reps as a beginner.
Tips and Tricks
Next up, some words of advice.
Exhale as you twist to each side and inhale as you return to the center. Make sure you’re using your abs, not your arms to swing the body from side to side. If you’re a beginner, keep your feet on the ground for more stability. Once you progress, try balancing on your sit bones to make the move more difficult by lifting your feet off the ground and bringing your knees up.
You can do this move unweighted or add weight (we’ll explore some options for this shortly). Remember to work at a difficulty level that lets you hold your form. Your abs may get sore, but if you feel any kind of stabbing pain, take a break and move on to lighter exercise.
What are the Obliques?
As mentioned above, the obliques are the muscles on the side of your waist. Although we often think about working our six-pack muscles or the rectus abdominis when we work out our abs, obliques are just as important. They help you bend and twist at the waist. You use your obliques when you reach for things that are above your height, turn around in your seat, or reach your arms behind you.
Studies have indicated that building strength in the muscles of the core may also improve your hip muscle function. This has health implications for moves like walking running and jumping too.
Although the obliques are very functional muscles, sometimes we forget to think about working them.
“Obliques” refers to a group of muscles consisting of the external and internal obliques. As the name suggests, the external obliques are closer to your skin’s surface. The internal obliques are what can be considered deep core muscles. When you do oblique abdominal work, you can help target both these muscles.
Located on the sides and front of your torso, external obliques have muscle fibers that rundown diagonally to make an angle with the center line of your body.
Workout-wide, when you contract your external obliques, they rotate your torso and help you bend sideways. These muscles make you more stable and can help you keep your posture. So, if anything falls on you (knock on wood!) that might make your body bend or keel over, healthy external obliques can help you stay upright.
These muscles hang out underneath your external obliques. The internal obliques have muscle fibers that run in the opposite diagonal direction, so both obliques’ muscle fibers would crisscross each other if they sat at the same plane.
Internal obliques serve pretty much the same function as external ones. Your obliques also help your abdomen to compress. Have you ever hacked up a lung or started sneezing uncontrollably? Maybe laughed until your ”sides hurt”? That’s your obliques going to work!
Together, these muscles are essential to hold up your spine and improve overall core strength. That means we see them working hard both in everyday life and when you play sports or work out.
Russian twists also work your:
- Erector spinae
- Latissimus dorsi
- Hip flexors
- Rectus abdominis
- Transverse abdominis
Other Oblique Exercises
Beyond Russian twists, what other exercises can you use to strengthen your oblique muscles?
Other oblique moves include:
- Side crunches
- Side planks
- Bicycle crunches
- Mountain climbers
Do Russian Twists Make Your Waist Smaller?
No. Spot reduction has been disproven by most current scientific sources. Unfortunately for you, you can not pick and choose where you lose fat.
Research indicates that 60% of your body’s fat distribution is genetic. This means that if you’re carrying a little extra pudge in the waist, you can blame it (at least in part) on Mom and Dad.
On top of genetics, eating too many calories or too many fatty foods can cause you to store excess fat and gain weight. These factors will contribute to a larger waist size.
Doing Russian twists or any abdominal exercises will only help tone your core, not shrink your waist. Make sure you are doing plenty of cardiovascular exercises to help keep you at a healthy weight.
On top of this, extra fat around the abdomen can be dangerous for your health. Research indicates that too much visceral fat (the fat that sits in between your organs) is positively correlated with insulin resistance and heart disease.
And although women have higher body fat overall, men have significantly higher visceral abdominal fat than women.
If you’re not seeing results as quickly as you like, taking fat burners when you work out can be an option. However, make sure to consult with a doctor or sports nutrition professional before taking on a supplement routine.
Russian Twist Variations
When you’re working on Russian twists, there are several equipment variations you can use.
This is a great thing about the exercise. you can change the equipment to suit your preference.
For example, to add some weight to your Russian twist, try
- Dumbbell Russian twists
- Medicine ball Russian twists
- Weight plate Russian twists
- And kettlebell Russian Twists.
At the end of the day, do Russian twists make your waist smaller? The answer is no unless you are also reducing your body fat.
Remember, you can’t spot reduce. Although many of us dream of slimmer waists, ultimately, the only way to slim down any part of your body is to lose fat.
However, you can’t target the fat loss to one specific area. But if you lose fat from your whole body, you should see your waist reduce in size. What Russian twists or other oblique activities do is strengthen the muscles of your waist.
Although this won’t necessarily lead to you looking more slender, it has myriad benefits. For example, improving your core and abdominal strength has been linked to better balance, increased spinal health, and lower levels of back pain.
Plus, if you reduce the amount of fat on your body, you’re likely to see more than just a slim and aesthetic-looking waist. less fat around the waist is considered to be healthier for most people.
Body Fat Distribution
Furthermore, although men naturally hold more fat around the waist and abdominal area than women, too much fat around the abdominals, especially the visceral fat that sits between your internal organs has been linked to health complications including heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular health issues.
Although subcutaneous fat which is the fat that sits closer to your skin can also pose health issues, it is considered less risky than visceral fat.
That being said, make sure to keep yourself at a lower body fat percentage. Holding on to even 5 pounds of fat can put you at higher risk for cardiovascular issues. So, make sure to consume a diet rich in leafy greens, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and select healthy fats, like avocados or salmon.
It may be helpful to track your body mass index (BMI), your body weight and your waist measurement if you are on a journey to lose weight.
Understanding how much belly fat and total body fat you have can help you make more informed decisions and assess health risks.
To conclude, don’t let your fitness future look o-bleak! To track your progress at every step, the Flex app lets you store all of your PRs, one-rep maxes, weight data and more in one safe place. Plus, get inspired workouts, whether you’re looking to train like a film superstar, or just to get a little bit better than you were yesterday.
The Flex app is as goal-oriented as you are. Try it for free or explore our blog to achieve your fitness goals quicker.
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Nakai, Y., Kawada, M., Miyazaki, T., Araki, S., Takeshita, Y., & Kiyama, R. (2021). A self-oblique exercise that activates the coordinated activity of abdominal and hip muscles-A pilot study. PloS one, 16(8), e0255035. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255035
Schleinitz, D., Böttcher, Y., Blüher, M., & Kovacs, P. (2014). The genetics of fat distribution. Diabetologia, 57(7), 1276–1286. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-014-3214-z
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