Home Exercise 101 ABC News Discusses the Science of Twerking

ABC News Discusses the Science of Twerking

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I blame Miley Cyrus for this:

Twerking is such a complex, technical subject, only a Ph.D. researcher can explain how the body does what it does to make it happen.

Disney characters twerk, too.

Disney characters twerk, too.

Twerking is a combination movement involving a deep squat and a pelvic tilt, Michelle Olson, a professor of exercise science and a certified strength and conditioning coach at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala., explained.

“You take a wide stance with your legs turned out at 10 and 2 so your hips are externally rotated,” she said. “Then you pulse up and down as you thrust the pelvis bone forward and back.”

Olson said the booty dancing move is a good “twerkout” for your butt and thighs. It also works the deep muscles of the hips and the core muscles of the lower back and abdominals. She said it will definitely shape and strengthen all those muscles as well as give them the stamina to do activities important to most people heavily involved in twerking like say, picking up a screaming child off the floor.

However, over-twerking might throw out the lower back or make the knees creak, Olson cautioned.

Translation? If you’re over 25, twerking may not be for you.

No. If you’re unfit, twerking might not be for you.

Anyway, we discussed the article briefly on twitter*…

…and now, I need you to sound off! What do you think?

*Subscribers, you might need to visit the actual blog post in order to see the dialogue!

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Nicole August 27, 2013 - 4:55 PM

I think it could be a workout, but I know I have no clue how to begin isolating half of the muscles involved necessary to make it so. Maybe it could be a great introduction to a workout just to make things fun or loosen people up. It’s some kind of dancing after all. Sort of like Congolese dance and other African dance forms where a whole lot of lower body and abdominal isolation is necessary and I love my Congolese dance class, so I won’t knock the twerkers. I think it seems lewd to a lot of people, because it involves the shaking of the booty and Lord help them if that booty is a sizeable one. On the flip side, no disrespect, but the ladies of the Twerk Team, while they may be very agile and fit in the booty and leg area, don’t seem very toned… but I don’t know… maybe toned doesn’t equal fit. As a starter to a workout or incorporated somehow maybe, but stand alone, I don’t think so. Just my 2 cents.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 27, 2013 - 6:31 PM

“the ladies of the Twerk Team, while they may be very agile and fit in the booty and leg area, don’t seem very toned… but I don’t know… maybe toned doesn’t equal fit.”

…or, maybe, for them it’s strictly business. They know what their particular audience likes and, as with all activity…if you’re not eating for that specific goal, you’re not gonna see that specific goal, ya dig? 😉

Nicole August 27, 2013 - 8:52 PM

Good point.

Charlese August 27, 2013 - 8:05 PM

I have no doubt that twerking is work. Twice a week I take a class called Asa (asabodyconditioning.com for more details) that employs many similar movements as a part of an African-inspired low impact group fitness class. The class is a great workout and by far the most difficult workout I do on a regular basis. That having been said, there are some differences. Twerking doesn’t seem to be getting the upper body involved at all. Plus I think a straight not of it would bore my to tears. Also, when I finish an Asa class I feel strong, empowered and in touch with my roots, even if it’s only in a superficial way. There’s no feeling that I’ve participated in my own degradation… not even a hint. Oh, and hold that deep twerk squat and whine your body dancehall style and then talk to me. You should check out an Asa class the next time the founder, Akosua Akoto, is in NY(or if you’re in DC). I’d be happy to give you the deets!

Erika Nicole Kendall August 27, 2013 - 11:32 PM

“Twerking doesn’t seem to be getting the upper body involved at all.”

IMO it depends on what you’re doing. You can’t squat without engaging your core, and a big chunk of twerk IS a perpetual squat. If you squat down and hold your hands on your knees, you are using your arms, chest, back and shoulders… but, like any other calisthenics, you have to do it long enough to feel a burn, which is what makes it a bit obnoxious. And, like I said in the tweets, if you go upside down, that is absolutely, unequivocally a full body exercise.

Charlese August 28, 2013 - 5:54 AM

Oops! I meant “Plus I think a straight hour of it would bore my to tears…” Dang autocorrect!

Oh, and I’ve seen video of it upside down. Not exactly a beginner move, eh? I’d have to lose weight or use some type of harness before I’d be willing to try that!

Jessica August 27, 2013 - 9:24 PM

You mean they just could not figure out what she was doing so they categorized it into an exercise??? (sigh)

Kami August 27, 2013 - 11:17 PM

This is definately a workout, we practice twerking in carribean fitness tape that I have. People are afraid to embrace twerking and pole dancing for its stigma. Look its fun. Hopefully you can host a twerking class in the future I will bring the music lol.
Twerk it out lol

Vixen August 28, 2013 - 11:53 AM

You are right when you say twerking doesn’t mean toned. In the black community, a woman who looks and feels like a woman is admired. Many black men like the softness of a woman, not the hardness of muscles or bones. This is why when a woman butt jiggles, black men lose their minds. Go to any strip club and see if I am telling the truth. Booty, period, is a measure of beauty in our and the Hispanic community and other cultures are quickly trying to change their shapes. Fake booties don’t jiggle either. So, just because someone’s booty isn’t stiff, doesn’t mean she is not physically active, it may just mean she doesn’t want to tighten her backside because it’s a sign of beauty.

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