If bikini season is just around the corner, you might be planning a workout regimen that helps you tone your abs and obliques to give you a beach physique that will turn heads. Instead of trying situps or crunches, consider a Russian twist workout. This ab-burning exercise commonly requires a medicine ball, but it's not absolutely necessary.
To perform a standard Russian twist with a medicine ball, sit on the floor with your legs in front of you and bent at the knees. Lean your torso back so that your heels, rather than you entire feet, are touching the floor. Sustaining this pose requires you to contract your core muscles. Hold a medicine ball in front of you and swing it from side to side, dropping it to the ground next to each hip.
If you haven't tried a set of Russian twists in the past, you'll likely find this core workout to be an adequate challenge without incorporating a medicine ball. Instead of using the ball, adopt the pose but extend your arms and swing them back and forth. The medicine ball provides more resistance, which helps you get results quicker, but even without the ball, a Russian twist can be a challenge.
A medicine ball isn't the only type of resistance you can use to enhance the burn of a Russian twist. If you don't have access to a ball, use a dumbbell or even a weight plate. Each type of weight works well for this exercise, as weights are easy to hold as you swing them back and forth. If you're severely at a shortage for any type of exercise equipment, a heavy, everyday item such as a phone book can work in a pinch.
Regardless of whether you use something heavy as resistance, it's easy to increase the challenge of a Russian twist with a simple variation. As you contract your abs to begin the set, lift your heels off the ground and keep your feet up for the entire duration of the exercise. Keeping your feet elevated challenges you core muscles even more.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.