Russian twists exercise: twist your way to a six pack!

With an exotic feel to its name, you’d generally think the Russian twists exercise would be a complex one to perform. On the contrary, it is a pretty simple fitness plan that does not require the use of equipment and can be done anywhere you can get some good floor space. It is highly adaptable in any exercise program, making it an ideal part of every fitness plan for beginners and experienced exercisers alike.

The Russian Twist exercise is fantastic for muscle building. It is a total core body exercise that strengthens all parts of your abdominals, including your obliques, making for a stronger back and toned waistline. However, you can only gain maximum benefits from the Russian twist exercise if you get your form right.

The exercise explained – How to perform the Russian twist exercise

  • Start seated on the floor or a fitness mat with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
  • Lean back, setting your upper body at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Ensure your back is straight at this angle throughout the exercise, as you will be tempted to project your shoulders forward.
  • Place your hands in front of your chest, link them together, then brace your core and lift your legs off the floor.
  • Switch your arms all the way in one direction, then do same to the other side. That is one rep. You can aim for 20 reps in total, or set a timer for the exercise plan until the beep goes off.

What muscles do you use during the Russian twist exercise?

Russian twist is a core exercise which targets the spinal stabilizers (primarily the obliques) and the muscles of the torso. The exercise also helps to increase the torso’s rotational movement and enhances the isometric control of the core muscles.

Generally, the obliques, abdominals, spinal erectors, and upper back (scapular stabilizers) are used in the Russian twist. The muscles in use here may slightly differ when engaging in the Russian twist exercise in a standing position with some weight for added pressure.

Possible progressions/variations

The intensity of the Russian twist exercise can be increased in some ways. The first way is to introduce some weight during the exercise. Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or medicine ball in your hand and rotate your arms all the way to one side and the other. Adding weight helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles further, and you will also feel the effect of your lats doing more work.

The lower body Russian twist is another powerful variation to this exercise. The emphasis here is on your obliques and lower abdominals. Lay with your back and arms flat on the floor in a T-shape, then raise your legs straight up. Ensure your shoulders remain on the floor, then twist your legs all the way to one side, keeping them straight as you go. When your feet get close to the ground (but not touching it), move them back up and over to the other direction.

Benefits of Russian twists

Strengthens your Lower Back

The twisting motion applied during the Russian twists strengthens the muscles around your lower back. This move helps to prevent back injury, giving you a better posture and stronger core.

Strengthens your abs

Russian twists are a powerful exercise that strengthens your abs. While it is great for all parts of your abdominal area, the exercise particularly focuses on your obliques. The twisting motion of the Russian twists forces you to apply your internal and external obliques. All these muscles are key to achieving a strong overall core. As you twist your obliques, you are also pulling in your transverse abdominal muscle, giving you a stronger back and flatter abs.

Core stability

Russian twists force you to apply pressure on your transverse abdominal muscle, ensuring stability as you rotate from side to side. The transverse abdominal muscle – also known as the body’s “powerhouse” – is responsible for not only a stronger back and flatter waistline, but for a stable trunk, giving you an edge at every activity you perform.

Twist your way to strength and stability

The Russian twist exercise is a challenging, fun exercise. This movement is sure to give your stomach muscles some work and give you some lat work too. When done with good form – with the proper arm, knee, and foot placement, core stability, and spinal alignment – you will give your abs and body core the workout it would not forget in a hurry.

Concluding the russian twists exercise

This exercise is one of my go-to exercises during a core workout. Usually, I add some weight to increase the intensity. What are your thoguhts on the Russian twists exercise? Let me know in the comments below.


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