Twist Holds

Since the release of Convict Conditioning 2 last fall, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the exercise demonstrations I provided for the book. Most of the questions are about the clutch flag and human flag holds, but I’ve also gotten quite a few about author Paul Wade’s “trifecta” progression, particularly the twist holds.

There are several variations leading up to the full twist hold and I recommend beginners practice the basic versions for at least a few weeks (probably longer) before moving ahead. It’s important to take your time with each step to avoid setbacks and injuries.

Do The Twist
Twist holds give you a lot of bang for your buck, providing a fantastic stretch for your spine, hips and shoulders, as well as giving you a little extra core work. Along with the bridge hold and L-hold, twist holds are one of just three stretches that Coach Wade finds necessary for peak performance. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but he provides an entertaining (and pretty convincing) argument for this approach in the book.

To perform a basic twist hold, sit on the ground with your left leg straight in front of you, then bend your right leg and cross it in front of the other. Reach your left arm across your right knee while squeezing your obliques to rotate your trunk as far as you can. You can also play around with leveraging your elbow against your leg to get deeper into the stretch. Try to keep your chest tall and avoid shrugging your shoulders. I find it helpful to breathe slowly, gradually lengthening my spine with each inhale, and trying to squeeze a little farther into the twist each time I breathe out.

Twist Ending
The last step in the twist hold progression is to reach your arm beneath your top leg, while simultaneously reaching the opposite arm around behind your back, eventually clasping your hands. (It’s fine to use your other arm to help get the first one under your leg.)

There are a few other stretches that can help you out along the way, including the yoga “noose pose” (seen in the photo on the right), which helps you practice the shoulder mobility without having to twist as far as you need to in the full twist hold, and the more commonly known “triangle pose,” which provides the opposite benefit.

Even once you achieve the full twist, you can still work on increasing the stretch by trying to get your hands farther behind you and higher up on your back (two things I’m still refining myself). My twist hold still leaves plenty of room for improvement, but I intend to keep practicing.

Check out the video below (and get a copy of Convict Conditioning 2) for more info:

14 thoughts on “Twist Holds

  • By Dylan Shelton -

    I was hoping you would one day let us know more about Paul’s Trifecta! I was having a lot of trouble with the twists in particular, so this artical is just what I needed.
    Time to get twisted!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Dylan!  This post is for the hardcore fans!  🙂

  • By EvRevFit -

    I like the noose pose idea. The main things that’s been holding me back is shoulder flexibility, so I’m going to give that one a try!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Cool – give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

  • By Mike C -

    Al-  You are awesome for doing this.  It’s been totally cool meeting you through CC2 and that you are spending some time at the dragondoor forum!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Mike!

  • By Dirk -

    Since I becoming a raw vegan ca 2 years ago, my flexibility has skyrocket and I now be able to do such things like the twisthold and a lotussit the only thing I struggle with is the site split but that might be a mental thing after I’ve done one in a motorbike accident and ripped of a tendon in my left leg. Anyway great post.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Don’t feel too bad, Dirk – I can’t do the splits either!  And for the record, I’ve known plenty of flexible meat-eaters, though I support you on your decision to be vegan if it is going well for you.

  • By Rob White -

    Another cracking post in the same week!

    Since getting into yoga a bit I found out that twist positions are believed to be really important for detoxification because these moves stimulate the kidneys, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, etc.

    Have a look here:

    In fact, inversion positions (e.g headstands) combined with twists is believed to make you pretty much bullet proof over time.

    Regardless, they are great to do after a workout for getting mobility back and preventing stiffness in the hips, shoulders ,etc.

    I’ve been working the twist holds in CC2 for a while, and can get to the point where I can get my knee into my opposite armpit and touch my hand to the outside of my ankle. 

    I think my arms are too short to be able to wrap one under my leg and then hold hands behind my back. It just sems inpossible with how thick my chest cavity is compared to my arm length. I’m goign to work it with the cloth for assistance for a while.

    I think the noose pose is amazing for squat mobility as well as getting mobility to be able to do the full twist hold.
    At yoga we work the triangle pose loads when moving to and from Warrior poses.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      You arms aren’t too short, you just need to improve your mobility!

      Btw, you are gonna love my next book – it’s gonna have tons of info on inversions!

  • By Cal -

    Great info and video (as ever) Al, thank you!

    I see you’ve changed down to the slip-on tying for your Invisible Shoes.  I got mine last week and am already using “ultra-minimal” style 1 (which is slip-on too).
    (I love simple things.)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Wow – you really pay attention, Cal!  And yes, the slip-on style is much simpler and more convenient.  Glad you’re happy with the I-shoes!

  • By Anonymous -

    Hey Al, love the twists, really helped heal a shoulder injury I had for about a month and a half in about 2 days. Not fully healed but a significant difference. However when I do the full twist and hold hands on only one side there’s this searing pain on the side of my torso, any idea how I can fix that? Thanks!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      If you feel pain during this exercise or any other, it is your body telling you that it’s not ready for what you are attempting.  Back off from the full twist and stick with the earlier progressions for now.

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