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russian twist

The Russian twist is a straightforward, effective and easy to learn exercise which targets the abdominals with an emphasis on the obliques.

Equipment: (optional) dumbbell, weight plate, medicine ball, swiss ball, trx, kettle bell, bosu ball

Main muscles used: abdominals – rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis


Position and movement: While seated on floor, bend knees and place feet flat. Extend arms straight out in front of chest and clasp palms together. To determine your range of motion for the twist, open hands and move apart until each reaches a 45° angle. (Think about what a 90° angle would look like on one side and approximate half that distance for each side/hand). Bring hands back to the clasped position.

Extend back to form a 45° angle with the floor and slightly flex spine. While keeping shoulders stationary, brace abdominals and twist to one side (45°). Pause, return to center and twist in the opposite direction.

Some ways that this move can be progressed:

– Increase the speed in which you perform the exercise.

– Using weight: grasp a dumbbell, weight plate or medicine ball straight out in front of you. The position and movement are the same as stated above.

– Elevating your feet a few inches off the floor. Keep feet elevated throughout the movement. The position and movement are the same as stated above.

And my favorite way to perform this exercise…

– Using the swiss ball. Lie with middle and upper back on ball. Elevate hips so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, keep hips elevated throughout movement. The remainder of the position and movement are the same as stated above. The challenge is to keep yourself stable while performing the exercise on a surface that is moveable.

Common Errors:

– moving shoulders during the twist instead of the obliques.
– raising or lowering torso while performing movement. It should be kept in the 45 degree angle throughout exercise and slightly flexed.
– failure to keep hips elevated and in line with shoulders and knees (swiss ball)

Need more information on abdominal exercises? Please leave a comment…