If you listed the preferred ab workouts, there could be some acquainted contenders like crunches, planks, and leg raises, little question. But one darkish horse within the race is the Russian twist.

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You’ll see it carried out by bodybuilders, health influencers, “functional fitness” athletes who put on toe-gripping sneakers that seem like gloves, group-fitness worshipers, and cardio fans. 

One purpose why it’s so repeatedly used is that it allows you to actually really feel you stomach muscular tissues working, virtually regardless of how effectively the train is definitely carried out. You can do it “wrong” and nonetheless really feel some type of burn since you’re bending and twisting. A greater purpose why it’s so fashionable is as a result of it targets almost each muscle in your core, together with the not often focused indirect muscular tissues.

Here’s easy methods to be sure to do the Russian twist the proper approach to get that deep burn in your abs and obliques, not your decrease again.

How to Do the Russian Twist

The Russian twist is carried out seated on the bottom and appears fairly easy, however there are some essential steps that usually get neglected. These small modifications will make a giant distinction.

Step One — Find Your Feet

Muscular person outdoors doing ab exerciseCredit: Shopping King Louie / Shutterstock

Sit on the bottom, bend your knees, and level your ft as much as dig your heels into the bottom. Bring your ft and heels near your glutes and hips, which might be your fulcrum to maneuver your higher physique. Having your ft nearer to your hips goes to provide you extra stability. Hold your fingers collectively in entrance of your chest.

Form Tip: Keep your ft flexed and pointed up throughout the complete motion. Pointing your ft goes to do two issues: First, it’s going to maintain your weight shifted backward by means of your hips and into the bottom, providing you with extra stability. Second, it’s going to assist interact your hamstrings, which can then assist to tuck your pelvis below through the motion. This helps interact extra of your decrease decrease abs and inside indirect muscular tissues as a substitute of your hip flexors. (1)

Step Two — Tuck Your Chin and Roll Back

Muscular person do ab exercise with medicine ball outdoorsCredit: Shopping King Louie / Shutterstock

Imagine you’re attempting to carry an orange between your chin and higher chest. Tuck your chin down to carry it in place. This will stack your rib cage over your pelvis, so you possibly can flex your abs and preserve core stress. It may also encourage your higher again to spherical so your lats can “wrap” round your ribs. If you attempt twisting your physique whereas maintaining a tall posture along with your shoulders down and again, you’ll have the mobility of an elephant on a tightrope.

Be certain to roll again, not simply lean again. If you shortly lean again out of your hips, you’re doubtless going to increase your backbone and lose the steady place you labored to get into. Instead, think about you’re about to do a backwards roll and “uncurl” your self into place. Allow your middle of mass to be drawn backwards and use your ft to interact your hamstrings for stability.

Form Tip: How far must you roll again? If you’re laying on the ground, you’ve gone too far. If you possibly can’t really feel your heels digging exhausting into the ground, you in all probability haven’t rolled again far sufficient. Aim for a 5 – 6 out of 10 effort to carry the place.

Step Three — Look Over Your Shoulder

Long-haired person in gym doing ab exercise with medicine ball Credit: Andriiii / Shutterstock

With management, twist as a lot of your torso as potential to at least one facet. If you’re doing it proper, it ought to really feel like somebody karate chopped you within the outdoors a part of your obliques (muscular tissues on the edges of your abs). Then, rotate all the way in which to the opposite facet. Alternate backwards and forwards between sides with every repetition.

Form Tip: Look over your shoulder behind you, attempting to get your shoulders to 12 and 6 on an imaginary clock. Each individual may have a barely totally different vary of movement relying on their mobility and power, so work inside your individual comfy vary.

Russian Twist Mistakes to Avoid

Make certain that once you’re performing the Russian twist, it appears good and feels good. Don’t let your method slip as you fatigue and don’t grind by means of painful, improper type. Here are some frequent errors to be careful for.

Extending Your Back 

If your chin and rib cage aren’t tucked once you roll again into place, then you might find yourself in extension along with your abs are in a lengthened place. The extra prolonged you might be, the extra lengthened your abs might be. This shifts stress away out of your focused ab muscular tissues.

muscular person in dark gym doing ab exercise with medicine ballCredit: Gorgev / Shutterstock

When a muscle contracts, it shortens, so though you would possibly “feel” your ab muscular tissues working, you’re not setting your self up for achievement to correctly prepare and strengthen them since they received’t have the ability to successfully shorten or absolutely contract. 

Avoid it: Don’t roll again fairly as far. That method, you possibly can preserve a greater chin and ribcage tuck. Focus on making the train more durable by utilizing a full rotation, not by attempting to lean way back to potential.

Not Actually Rotating 

This one is without doubt one of the commonest issues. Some individuals swing their arms backward and forward like a malfunctioning garden sprinkler, however they’re not rotating their torso or shoulders.

long-haired person in gym doing ab exercise on floorCredit: Bojan Milinkov / Shutterstock

With this misapplied “technique,” you would possibly really feel some stress in your abdominals as a result of they’re merely resisting rotation, however there’s not a lot working within the obliques as a result of they’re not transferring by means of any actual vary of movement.

Avoid it: Keep your fingers as near your physique as potential. You can use them to assist information the rotation to every facet, however the farther your fingers transfer away out of your middle, the extra your arms will wish to swing. Until you grasp the motion, maintain your fingers shut.

Kicking Your Legs Out

When your legs are prolonged too far, it’s harder to shift your middle of mass again whereas maintaining your hips tucked below correctly. This means there’s much less load, stress, work despatched by means of your stomach muscular tissues and obliques, and also you’ll almost certainly really feel the burn in your hip flexors and the highest a part of your quads (thighs).

Man performing ab exercise with medicine ballCredit: Hananeko_Studio / Shutterstock

Straight legs additionally make it troublesome to drive your heels into the bottom, which can restrict your hamstring engagement and have an effect on your stomach activation.

Avoid it: Pay consideration to your whole decrease physique. Bend your knees, pulling your ft and heels again in direction of your glutes and hips. Point your ft and dig your heels into the bottom. This will assist to interact your hamstrings and lengthen your quads and hip flexors to allow them to’t take over. 

How to Progress the Russian Twist

One normal aim of coaching is to progressively progress every motion or train for constant enchancment. However, virtually anybody could make an train “feel” tougher. You have to be sure to’re are making it more durable in a productive method.

Arms-Extended Russian Twist

Reaching your arms ahead, away out of your physique’s middle, goes to create an extended lever with elevated problem to your whole core. When you rotate, don’t let your arms take over or transfer individually out of your torso.

Be certain to completely rotate by wanting over your shoulders. The altered leverage goes so as to add extra relative load for elevated problem, particularly in the long run ranges of movement.

Dumbbell Russian Twist

Adding resistance is the most typical approach to make a body weight ab train tougher. By utilizing a dumbbell, or a single weight plate, you enhance the pressure wanted to rotate your torso. Be certain to proceed utilizing a full vary of movement, aiming your shoulders in a 12 and 6 place.

Begin holding the load near your chest. As you achieve power, you possibly can maintain the load farther out of your physique, within the arms-extended place, earlier than going heavier. This allows you to squeeze extra general development from comparatively lighter weights.

Decline Russian Twist

Using a decline bench will shift extra of your weight backwards due to the steeper angle working towards gravity. Even although your legs are securely hooked into the bench, you must nonetheless actively attempt to dig your heels in to get your hips tucked below.

The elevated angle of the decline bench must also permit every particular person to get extra vary of movement in direction of the tip of every rep.

Benefits of the Russian Twist

Many ab workouts prepare your central core muscular tissues — the abdominals above your hips. The Russian twist incorporates rotation, which not solely recruits extra muscular tissues however creates extra stimulus for a wide range of outcomes.

Good-Looking Abs

Ab coaching alone received’t ship an awesome set of abs. You want to concentrate to energy and vitamin, too. But incorporating the Russian twist into your ab exercise can provide some consideration to your indirect muscular tissues, whereas hitting your predominant “6-pack” abs with a severe progress stimulus. Training your abs for muscle progress received’t create a blocky-looking abdomen space, however it’ll play a task in making a basic washboard look.

Athletic Ab Strength

Rotational actions are generally neglected in terms of constructing a powerful, highly effective core. (2) Training your abs with rotation, just like the Russian twist, might help to construct inter-muscular coordination that may carryover to the sector, whereas constructing normal core power and stability that may assist assist heavy lifting.

Muscles Worked by Russian Twist

The Russian twist works extra than simply “your abs.” It emphasizes your indirect muscular tissues, whereas calling a lot of your whole higher physique into play.


The obliques are the muscular tissues on the edges of your abs that body the six-pack. They run diagonally at an indirect angle, which is the place they get their title. More precisely, there are two varieties of indirect muscular tissues on both sides of your physique — the interior obliques and the exterior obliques. The inside obliques are discovered deeper in your core, whereas the exterior obliques are extra seen.

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When twisting your physique, the exterior obliques are liable for contralateral rotation — the exterior indirect in your left helps you rotate to the proper, and vice versa. These are the prime mover to start with a part of every rep. Once you could have rotated previous the midpoint, the interior indirect is recruited for ipsilateral rotation — the interior obliques in your proper provide help to full rotation to the proper. The inside obliques will not be usually skilled, so don’t be stunned in the event you really feel a deep burn on the finish vary of every twist.

Rectus Abdominis 

The basic six-pack is definitely a collection of muscular tissues often called the rectus abdominis. During the Russian twist, the rectus works to brace down and resist motion, as a result of they’re primarily concerned in conventional flexion workouts like crunches or sit-ups. This muscle works isometrically to maintain your higher physique stacked and steady through the twist. 

Transverse Abdominis

Like the movie Inception the place there’s a dream inside a dream, the transverse abdominis is basically a set of abs below one other set of abs. It is a skinny sheet of muscle discovered beneath the rectus abdominis. The transverse abdominis, or TVA, primarily works isometrically to keep up postural stress. It additionally will increase stomach wall strain to stabilize the backbone and pelvis when transferring, together with throughout rotation. (3)

Hip Flexors 

As their title suggests, the hip flexors are primarily concerned in creating flexion (bending) at your hips. Reaching the highest portion of that hip flexion, along with your legs bent at an angle to your higher physique, is when you possibly can create a posterior pelvic tilt to focus on the decrease stomach muscular tissues. (4)

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae, or spinal erectors, are deep muscular tissues in your again that sit beneath the extra well-known again muscular tissues just like the lats, rhomboids, and trapezius. The erector spinae extends your higher physique backwards and creates lateral (facet to facet) flexion. During the Russian twist, they’re concerned extra towards the tip of every twist as your physique reaches its peak vary of movement.

How to Program the Russian Twist

The Russian twist isn’t just a few random ab train. Because it trains your core in a singular method, with rotation as a substitute of extra conventional flexion, it could actually play a key position in your exercises.

Timed Circuits

This body weight ab train matches effectively right into a stomach circuit carried out on the finish of any exercise. Combine this with timed units — performing steady repetitions in a given time as a substitute of counting particular person reps — and also you’ve obtained a successful pair.

Timed units allow you to simply concentrate on the standard of your work, and the clock will prevent on the finish. Good choices are to make use of both 30 second of labor with 30 of relaxation or 40 seconds of labor with 20 seconds relaxation. Pick three to 5 workouts, together with the Russian twist, and do two to 4 rounds at the very least twice per week.

Unweighted to Light Weight, Moderate to High Repetition

If you’re performing the Russian twist as a standalone train, not a part of a circuit, you possibly can burn your core utilizing two to a few units of 15 to 25 reps. Remember that turning each to the left and proper counts as one rep. You’ll scale back your workload in the event you rely “right, one, left, two, right, three, left, four,” and so forth.

Russian Twist Variations

Once you’ve gotten a deal with on the fundamental Russian twist, you possibly can improve the train to hit your abs with harder actions.

Bicycle Twist

When paired with a specialised fats loss food plan, this development is usually a key participant in creating abs that appear and feel like they’ve been carved from wealthy mahogany. As you rotate to look over your proper shoulder, pull your proper knee in in direction of your chest. But the foremost secret’s to not contact your elbow and knee collectively, as in the event you had been doing a basic bicycle crunch.

To get a full vary of movement utilizing full hip flexion, your left elbow ought to move your proper knee as you twist. Keep the other foot braced and hooked into the ground. You should go gradual with this one as a result of it entails some coordination. Try taking three seconds to achieve every rotation and maintain the tip place for a quick pause.

Overhead Russian Twist

This motion is just like the fundamental dumbbell Russian twist, however brings the arms in an overhead movement to additional change the leverage and recruit the shoulders, serratus, and higher again muscular tissues.

Don’t sacrifice vary of movement. Bring the load from one facet of your physique, to a straight-arm overhead place, to the other facet of your physique.

Standing Russian Twist

Sometimes known as a full contact twist, this standing motion is without doubt one of the extra athletic variations as a result of it’s carried out in a standing place and entails your whole decrease physique.

Use a barbell in a landmine unit to permit a clean rotation backward and forward. This train could be achieved along with your ft stationary whereas transferring the load from hip to hip or, as a extra superior variation, pivoting on the balls of your ft and transferring the load from mid-thigh to mid-thigh.


Will coaching my obliques make me look fatter?

No, solely physique fats can do this. Training any muscle, even your abdominals and obliques, will construct lean muscle which improves your physique and your efficiency.
What some individuals name “love handles” is definitely physique fats saved usually across the indirect area. Body fats is saved all through your physique in a genetically decided method and coaching the muscle beneath that saved fats won’t enhance these fats ranges. If it did, than anybody who skilled their triceps with weights could be liable to creating jiggly “batwings” as a substitute of constructing muscular arms.

Can I raise my ft off the ground to make the train more durable?

You might raise your ft, however it wouldn’t actually be more durable in a productive method. The level of getting your ft down is to stabilize your hips and extra successfully isolate the motion by means of your stomach muscular tissues. With your ft up within the air, it’s going to be more durable to maintain your pelvis tucked and more durable to cease your hip flexors taking on, which each scale back ab activation. It may also be more durable to realize the tip ranges of movement as a result of your hips aren’t locked in place and your whole physique might be transferring as you twist.

Is utilizing a drugs ball a great way to progress the train?

It could be, when it’s achieved proper. A medication ball (similar to a dumbbell or weight plate) does add load, which is a simple approach to enhance the depth of any train. But the added load shouldn’t distract you from the principle method goal, which is absolutely rotating your physique, not simply transferring the ball backward and forward.
If you utilize a drugs ball, faucet it simply behind every hip as you twist to both facet. This cue will remind you to make use of an extended vary of movement.

C’mon and Do the Twist

When you design your subsequent ab exercise, don’t overfocus on crunch variations and planks. Rotational workouts just like the Russian twist goal underappreciated muscular tissues just like the obliques and assist to develop severe core energy. Once you be taught to carry out the motion accurately, you’ll be on the way in which to making a stronger core with a whole and well-developed set of abs.


  1. Workman, Chad & Docherty, David & Parfrey, Kevin & Behm, David. (2008). Influence of Pelvis Position on the Activation of Abdominal and Hip Flexor Muscles. Journal of power and conditioning analysis / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 22. 1563-9. 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181739981.
  2. Stephens, J; Bacon, E; Evans, C; Locke, S; and McCulloch, R (2021) “ANTI-ROTATIONAL AND ROTATIONAL ABDOMINAL EXERCISES AND THE CONCURRENT MUSCLE ACTIVATION: A METHODOLOGY STUDY,” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 8: Iss. 9, Article 12.
  3. Urquhart, D. M., & Hodges, P. W. (2005). Differential exercise of areas of transversus abdominis throughout trunk rotation. European backbone journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 14(4), 393–400. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-004-0799-9
  4. Takaki, S., Ms Pt, Kaneoka, Okay., PhD Md, Okubo, Y., PhD Pt, Otsuka, S., Ms, Tatsumura, M., PhD Md, Shiina, I., PhD Md, & Miyakawa, S., PhD Md (2016). Analysis of muscle exercise throughout energetic pelvic tilting in sagittal aircraft. Physical remedy analysis, 19(1), 50–57. https://doi.org/10.1298/ptr.e9900

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