Russian Twist Do's and Don'ts

Hello to all of my fitness readers trying to get the most of out exercise, and most importantly to the people who want exercise to be a benefit and not a source of future pain.

The Russian Twist is usually performed seated on the floor, knees bent slightly, and doing some form of twisting motion with the spine. While this CAN be a useful exercise, 90% of the time I see it done with poor posture by people with already overactive hip flexors and weak cores.

I won’t go into too much detail on core testing and disc herniations in this post, but I will say that if you’re in America, chances are high that you are walking around with at least one disc that is at risk of getting injured with an exercise like this. Plus, we sit so much that I really dislike most seated exercise.

That’s where the Swiss Russian Twist comes in. In this variation, the obliques are still challenged, but they also need to learn how to cooperate with the glute medius and max, the QL’s, Lats, and Hammies to control rotation. When all of this happens with the feet on the floor, we actually can achieve carry over to almost any sport or better back health with the added benefit of much less work.

The last thing I’d like to say about this particular movement is that due to our sedentary nature, twisting with hip extension seems to be a particularly sore spot for most of the people I work with that have desk jobs. So, listen to the body and start slow. If you can’t seem to get the hips to extend fully with stability, work on stretching out not only the psoas and tfl muscles, but also a lot of stretching for the quads (thigh muscles) as well to free up the butt to do the work!

Like I mention in the video, this is one of those eye opening moves for a lot of my clients. They realize quickly that the lower back and hamstrings have been making up for a lot of the weak glutes, and just how much resistance is in the anterior chain.

Try this out, listen to the body to learn what it needs, and progress appropriately.



GMO, Glyphosphate, Gluten, Gobbledygook?

As a health expert and personal trainer, I get questions about the latest nutrition related buzzwords all the time. Are genetically modified foods bad? What is gluten, and is it bad for my gut? Is glyophosphate (Round Up) toxic to my microbiome? Is Dairy the Devil?

Well, as a total nerd, and educator, my first gut reaction is to break into song and dance about different scientific studies, the chemical compositions of our cells and these substances, and even point them in directions for more information. Fortunately, I'm usually able to stop the show, and simply answer the client with this: you're asking the wrong questions. 

The real question is this: how does eating food make you feel?  For example, I love to eat Lavash (a type of bread, i.e. gluten), topped with a good quality cultured yogurt (i.e. dairy). Gluten and dairy are terrible, right? For some reason, I can eat literally pounds of the stuff and be fine. But a tortilla/bun from any fast food place? Cheap white bread? Top that off with processed cheese? Within minutes (no joke) I gain an inch on my stomach, and become so bloated with gas that I clear rooms. For years, I gave up all non vegetable carbs and dairy, because science told me it was bad, and I missed them so much. But only after I asked myself the question of how does this specific food, I can now eat what I love!

Becoming aware of how your body reacts to specific foods is the key to leading a happy healthy life. It sounds like a lot of work, and at first it is; tracking all your food, different apps and sensors to get the data, tracking how food effects sleep and mood, etc. But the long term effects are so worth it. Sure, at first you'll have to give up some foods you may like. But once you realize how they make you feel, you'll not want them much. Think of the freedom of being able to eat anything you want, AND feel great doing it. 

How can you tell? One easy way is this: we don't have gas and bloating when we eat well. Farts come from the bad bacteria in our gut getting what they want. Another way is to download any heart rate variability app on your smartphone (I personally use StressCheck by Azumio for Android). The variation of the space between each beat of our heart can tell us just how stressed food (or lack of sleep) can make us. Lastly, food should be energizing and vitalizing for us. If you feel lethargic and don't want to move after a meal, you may have eaten something wrong, or simply way too much.  

Reconnecting with your body is the most basic, and most important step to conquering weight-loss, muscle growth, heart problems, joint pain, and even the bedroom.  Don't wait for studies and conflicting science to tell you how to eat and live your life. Take the time to say hi to your body again. I promise, it's worth it!