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Leaning twist exercises all work those hard-to-activate oblique muscles.
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If you want to learn how to do a leaning twist exercise, the technique you're taught will depend upon whom you ask. Some personal trainers favor a version done with a medicine ball, some incorporate exercise bands and others -- who may be martial arts buffs -- will teach you Bruce Lee's version of the exercise. Your abs will be engaged and benefit from each version, so you may end up incorporating them all into your workout.
Use a Medicine Ball
The most basic version of the leaning twist exercise is done sitting on the floor with your feet together, heels on the floor and your knees slightly bent. Hold a medicine ball in both hands close to your body at chest level and sit upright with your back straight. Lean back slightly, tighten your abs and exhale as you turn your torso to the left. The medicine ball should stay in place next to your chest, moving with your body. Keep your spine straight even though you're leaning back, and move your head with your torso. Pause for a count of one, then inhale, exhaling and rotate completely to the right side. The total movement counts as one rep.
Include Upper Body With a Band
By looping an exercise band around the bottoms of your feet and holding the ends in your hands, you can work your shoulders, arms and abs with this version of the leaning twist. Start out seated on the floor with your back straight and knees slightly bent. Hold your feet together with your heels on the floor and position the band around the bottoms of your feet. Lean back as you open your arms wide and twist your torso to the left. Your right arm will be extended up and your left arm will extend to the side and down. Hold for a count of one, then return to the upright starting position before repeating on your right side. Each twist counts as one rep; do equal numbers of reps on each side.
Leaning Broom Stick Twist
You may be familiar with the broomstick twist exercise, but martial arts expert Bruce Lee put his own twist on it. Place a broomstick or similar wooden pole behind your shoulders and wrap your arms over the tops of both ends, grasping the pole with both hands. Stand in a shoulder-width stance with your toes pointing forward, knees only slightly bent. Bend forward, bringing your torso parallel with the floor. Keep your back straight and your gaze forward. That means when you're bent forward, you'll be looking at the floor. Rotate your torso to the left, allowing your gaze to follow, and touch the right end of the pole to the inside of your left foot. Hold for a count of one, then rotate back until your torso is once again parallel with the floor. Bring yourself to the starting position standing upright to complete a rep. Bend forward and twist to the left this time, then return to the starting position. Perform the same number of reps for each side.
Reps, Sets, Frequency
Start out with three or four sets of 12 to 15 reps of each exercise. If your abs don't feel fatigued by the end of the first set, increase the reps to 20 and continue to add reps as your strength and endurance improves. You may even end up topping Bruce Lee's typical routine of four sets of fifty when you perform leaning broom stick twists.