Russian Twist

Excellent Rotational Core Exercise to Strengthen The Abs and Obliques

The Russian Twist is one of the classic core exercises.  People generally associate this exercise with the obliques.  The truth is, this a great core workout because it includes all of the core muscles.

There are a lot of variations to this exercise.  You will see people do this with their feet off the ground, some with their feet on the ground, some with their feet on the ground and anchored, and some holding a weight.

If you are just starting out, try the modifier with your feet on the ground.  Trying to jump too quickly to doing Russian twists with your feet elevated will just cause you to roll from side to side.  You’ll spend your time trying to stay stable and balanced rather than working your core like you are supposed to.


The basic technique is pretty straight forward.

  • Start in a seated position with your knees bent and feet on the ground.  Your upper body is slightly reclined.  Start with a 45 degree angle with the floor.
  • Keep your abs contracted. 
  • Keep the head up and the back mostly straight.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you.
  • With your lower body stationary, twist your arms from side to side without stopping in the middle.
  • Twist until your arms are parallel with the ground.
  • If the exercise seems easy, recline little further.
Russian Twist
Russian Twist
Russian Twist

Keep In Mind...

Your back angle determines how hard your abs work.  The more you lean back, the harder they work.  Choose an angle that you are comfortable with but will still challenge you.

Keep breathing.  Do not hold your breath.  There are big advantages to breathing during abdominal exercises.

If you need to anchor your feet at first, go ahead and do that.  Keep in mind though, that just like in the sit up, anchoring your feet will engage the hip flexors and take some of the work off of the abs.


Add Weight

Holding a dumbbell or medicine ball in front of you will add resistance to the Russian twist.  When you see people doing Russian Twists with a medicine ball, a lot of times you will see them actually touching the ball to the ground on each side.  That's an excellent way to make sure you are getting full rotation.

Lift The Feet

For added work to all of the stabilizer muscles that you don’t even think about, lift your feet a few inches off the ground. You will work the muscles of the abs more by holding the feet up, and you will get all of the core muscles involved in holding you in that position and stable while you do the movement.

Russian Twist Exercise
Russian Twist Exercise
Russian Twist Exercise

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