How to Do a Russian Twist

The Russian twist is a deceptively simple-looking exercise that is really effective at strengthening the core and shoulders. The movement is performed from a seated position and can be easily adapted to suit every level of fitness.

Russian twists target multiple muscles including the obliques, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis of the core, the erector spinae, scapular muscles, latissimus dorsi of the back, and the hip flexors or the hips.

Strengthening your core muscles helps to improve your overall stability, which can help to decrease your risk of injury while performing everyday activities.

How To

  • To perform the Russian twist, take a seat on the floor with legs together, knees bent and feet on the floor. Roll back onto your sit bones and lift your feet from the floor while maintaining a straight back. Your torso and thighs should form a V-shape.
  • Clasp your hands in front of your chest and engage your abdominals. Using your abs, twist first to the right, back to center and then to the left. Exhale as you twist out to the side, and inhale as you turn back to center.
  • Return to the center to finish the movement. Make sure to keep you back straight and your feet off the floor during the whole exercise.


A good average to aim for is to do two or three sets of 10– 5 repetitions. If your form fails in any way, try putting your heels down to finish the rest of your repetitions.


Feet down: If you find it really hard to balance while performing the exercise, you can put your heels down, which will give you extra stability so that you can concentrate on perfecting the movement.

Weighted twists: If you feel that you are ready to increase the difficulty, you can hold a dumbbell or weighted ball. You can even extend your arms to tap the weight on the floor on each side of the rotation. Make sure you are able to maintain proper form and decrease the amount of weight if you are not able.

Russian twist punches: If you don’t have access to weights but want to increase the difficulty, try adding a punch as you rotate. As you rotate to the left, you will punch across your body with your right hand, return to center and then punch across your body with your left hand as you rotate to the right.

Cautionary Notes

Be mindful not to slouch and allow your back to round. The Russian twist puts you in a position that can be very hard on the lower back if not performed with proper form. If you cannot maintain proper form with your feet raised, place your heels on the floor to take some of the pressure off your back.

This exercise should absolutely not be performed by anyone who is pregnant, no matter where you are in your pregnancy.

If you have any issues with the discs in your back or are struggling with low mobility in your back, you should consult your doctor or a fitness trainer before adding Russian twists to your exercise routine. There are safer exercises that could be performed instead.

More Exercises

More Russian Twist Related Resources

How To Do A Russian Twist For A Strong Core And Six-Pack Abs
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This Modification Makes Russian Twists Way More Effective (and Safer!) | STACK
Russian Twist Exercise Guide | Build A Strong Core With The Russian Twist
Why You Should Never Do the Russian Twist | Men’s Health
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