Kettlebell Russian Twist: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
January 1, 2022

A weighted variation of the classic calisthenic Russian twist, the kettlebell Russian twist is a resistance exercise primarily meant to induce a level of training stimuli in the abdominal muscles as well as the surrounding muscular structures located around the abdomen.

The kettlebell Russian twist is best performed in a wide and open space with some sort of padding placed on the ground so as to cushion the bones of the buttocks and lower back, such as a yoga mat or foam square.

Primarily performed as an intermediate exercise by individuals with some experience performing a Russian twist and of whom possess some level of abdominal muscular strength, the kettlebell Russian twist is commonly found in practically any gym with the appropriate space and equipment.

What is the Kettlebell Russian Twist?

The kettlebell Russian twist is considered a non-calisthenic variation of the more commonly seen Russian twist, both of which are considered open kinetic chain isolation exercises performed for the purposes of muscular hypertrophy and neurological strength adaptation.

the kettlebell russian twist

The kettlebell Russian twist requires some level of core strength and flexibility already be present within the exerciser, as an unweighted Russian twist (that is to say, one without a kettlebell or similar apparatus) is already considered quite difficult to perform for most untrained individuals.

This particular form of the Russian twist presents a somewhat less explosive movement owing to the additional resistance added by the incorporation of a kettlebell, and as such requires a more controlled sort of movement, making it somewhat less suitable for athletes wishing to train their explosiveness.

How is the Kettlebell Russian Twist Performed?

In order to begin performing a kettlebell Russian twist, the exerciser must place a cushion against the floor so as to prevent any unnecessary pain or uncomfortableness, as well as select a relatively low weight kettlebell, especially if they are new to the exercise.

The exerciser will then lay themselves on the floor with the cushion resting against their back, placing the kettlebell nearest their dominant hand.

how to do a kettlebell russian twist

The feet of the exerciser will raise off the floor with the knees bending as they do so, creating a V-shape with the exerciser’s legs. At the same time, the exerciser will grip the kettlebell with both hands and draw it over one side of their hips while simultaneously raising their torso off the cushion, essentially balancing on their buttocks.

Retaining the same basic form cues, the exerciser will then move the kettlebell across their hips, “twisting” their abdominals and allowing their torso to lean backwards slightly so as to retain balance without losing tension in their body.

The exerciser must then repeat the same action but in the opposite direction, ensuring that no muscular imbalances may occur.

This completes a single repetition of the kettlebell Russian twist.

What are the Benefits of the Kettlebell Russian Twist?

Injury Prevention

A primary function of the abdominal muscles and obliques, one of the many benefits found from performing the kettlebell Russian twist repeatedly over the course of many training sessions is the fact that it can help prevent future injuries by reinforcing the primary stabilizing muscles used in most exercises.

This is further compounded by the bone and connective tissue strengthening effect of the kettlebell Russian twist – a benefit that is shared between practically all types of resistance training, owing to the tissue reinforcing effect of repetitive mechanical tension being repaired by the tissue’s cellular mechanisms.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Due to the fact that the kettlebell Russian twist is often performed at high volumes of repetitions per set and is generally a complex movement involving the entire body, there is no doubt that some level of cardiovascular strain is induced during the performance of this particular exercise.

Combined with a proper diet and plenty of rest, individuals regularly performing the kettlebell Russian twist may find that their general cardiovascular endurance, VO2 maximum and similar cardiac related properties have begun to improve over time.

Flexibility Benefits

The kettlebell Russian twist involves, much like its name, performing a twisting motion with the entirety of the body – a feat some individuals with poor flexibility may find rather difficult upon first performing.

As such, repetitively performing the kettlebell Russian twist alongside a suitable stretching and warm-up routine can yield excellent flexibility benefits to the individual incorporating the kettlebell Russian twist in their exercise routine.

Athletic Benefits

Despite the reduced explosiveness of the kettlebell Russian twist, some level of athletic applicability may still be found in this particular exercise, of which is namely due to the improved core strength and whole body coordination developed by performing the kettlebell Russian twist.

By extension, the ordinary benefits normally obtained from performing any form of resistance exercise may also be quite useful for professional athletes or individuals wishing to compete in sports, with such things like increased muscular strength and a reduced chance of injury acting to build a better athlete.

What Muscles are Used in the Kettlebell Russian Twist?

Being primarily an isolation exercise, the kettlebell Russian twist activates only the abdominal muscle group located over the lower portion of the torso, with the oblique muscles acting as secondary stabilizers and movers.

These muscles are the transversus abdominus, the internal oblique, the serratus anterior in some small capacity, the rectus abdominis and the external obliques, all of which are layered atop one another over the general stomach and intestinal area of the body.

What is the Kettlebell Russian Twist Good for?

The kettlebell Russian twist is an excellent exercise for building abdominal strength and endurance as well as static activation strength in many parts of the body.

This sort of training stimuli may be further applied to practically any other motion in day to day life or in the pursuit of athletic endeavors, considering the fact that the abdominal muscles are used in every sort of movement involving the upper body, including standing up straight or bending over.

References

1. Martuscello JM, Nuzzo JL, Ashley CD, Campbell BI, Orriola JJ, Mayer JM. Systematic review of core muscle activity during physical fitness exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jun;27(6):1684-98. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318291b8da. PMID: 23542879.

2. Davies G, Riemann BL, Manske R. CURRENT CONCEPTS OF PLYOMETRIC EXERCISE. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(6):760-786.

3. Hill J, Leiszler M. Review and role of plyometrics and core rehabilitation in competitive sport. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2011 Nov-Dec;10(6):345-51. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31823b3b94. PMID: 22071395.

4. Abdomen, in Moore, K.L., Dalley, A.F., Agur, A.M.R. (eds). 2014. Clinically Oriented Anatomy: Seventh Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia. PA. pg:191.

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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