Benefits of Russian Twist For a Strong Core - A Complete Guide

The benefits of Russian twists for core strength and stability make them one of the sought-after abdominal exercises. Let's learn the proper techniques to nail this exercise.

Chief Brabon
Reviewed by CHIEF BRABON , Celebrity Transformation Coach | Written by Sanchari Bhattacharya , Health & Fitness Expert
Updated on Mar 03, 2024 | 11:11 PM IST | 240.8K
Benefits of Russian Twist
Benefits of Russian Twist

Discovering the benefits of Russian twist, may show you why it's one of the best abdominal workout routines out there. This exercise is a total game-changer when it comes to building up your core and shoulder strength. Athletes swear by it for those killer rotational movements you see in sports. This exercise also requires some serious effort and stability. Now, even if you are not quite at the advanced athlete level or if you are simply aiming to tone that midsection for some core strength, no worries, we've got you covered. So, let's dive in and discover the ways in which you can perform Russian twists safely. 

How To Do Russian Twists

The Russian twist is a straightforward and simple workout to feel those abs. Especially, when you're short on time but still want a killer abs workout, this exercise is your go-to. You can sense a tight core just after just a few reps. The Russian twist is all about making it work for you, no matter where you are in your fitness journey. Here's how you do a Russian twist workout: 

  1. Your legs should be straight out in front of you while you sit on the floor or on a comfy mat.
  2. Lean back and create a V-like shape with your torso and legs.
  3. Engage that core by bracing your abdominal wall, while keeping your legs steady.
  4. Now twist your torso from side to side. Take it nice and slow.
  5. Stay focused and keep that core engaged throughout.

This move will work wonders for your obliques, upper back, and shoulders, all the while giving your lower back some well-deserved strength. You can also tweak it to fit your fitness level. If you're up for a challenge and ready to take things up a notch, then go ahead and amp up the intensity. And to spice things up even more, here are a few variations of that exercise to keep you on your toes.


Variation of Russian Twist Exercise

The Russian twist is an easy abdominal exercise that strengthens the upper torso. It targets the core, hips, and shoulders. The twisting motion in the Russian twist workout targets the following muscles. 

  1. Abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis)
  2. Hip muscles (hip flexor)
  3. Obliques
  4. Back muscle (latissimus dorsi)
  5. Shoulder muscles (scapular muscles)
  6. Paraspinal muscle (erector spinae) 

This fun and beneficial exercise can be done in 5 different variations. Here's a step-by-step guide for each one of the variations.

Weighted Russian Twist 

This variation is a real challenge because the added weight forces you to really stabilize and strengthen your balance and core muscles. It's a great way to take your Russian twists to the next level and push your limits.

Sharing a word of caution, our contributor Mary Sabat, an Ace Certified Trainer, says, “Performing Russian twists with weights can potentially strain muscles if not done with proper form or if excessive weight is used. The added resistance from weights increases the load on your oblique muscles, lower back, and spine. If you use weights that are too heavy or twist too forcefully, it can lead to overexertion and strain on these muscles, increasing the risk of injury. To minimize the risk, it's important to start with an appropriate weight, focus on controlled movements, maintain proper posture, and gradually increase the resistance as your core strength improves.”  

  • Grab a dumbbell, medicine ball, or kettlebell.
  • Sit on the floor with your legs slightly bent at 45 degrees (V-shape).
  • Lean back slightly and hold the equipment with both hands, close to your chest.
  • Engage your core and twist your torso from side to side, tapping the equipment on the ground on each side.
  • Maintain the V-shape throughout the workout.
  • Aim to perform 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions

Mini Resistance Band

This variation really works your upper body and thus you should be mindful of your posture and alignment. It's important to maintain proper form to avoid any potential back pain or discomfort. 

  • Just above the knees, wrap a small resistance band that goes across your thighs.
  • Sit on the floor with your legs bent at 45 degrees (V-shape) in front of you.
  • Lean back slightly and keep the tension in the band as you twist your torso from side to side.
  • This should make you feel the resistance in your core.
  • If you're looking for a serious burn in your oblique muscles, try holding each twist for 5 to 6 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Aim to complete 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

Bicycle Motion

In this variation, the leg extension adds weight and resistance to each rotation, while also challenging your lower abs and balance.

  • Lie down on your back with your hands behind your head and elbows wide.
  • Lift your neck, head, and shoulders off the ground.
  • Bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground, creating a tabletop position.
  • Twist your torso, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee while extending your right leg.
  • Alternate sides, performing a bicycle motion, while keeping your core engaged.
  • This too can be repeated 8 to 10 times in 2 to 3 sets.

Hands Behind Head Variation

In this ‘no hands’ variation, you'll need to rely on more control and engagement of your upper abs.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs bent and extend your spine to form 45 degrees.
  • Put your hands behind your head, with your elbows spread wide.
  • Maintained the slightly leaned posture and lift your feet off the ground.
  • Twist your torso from side to side, keeping your elbows wide.
  • Maintain core engagement throughout the workout.
  • Repeat this 8 to 10 times in 2 to 3 sets.

Mason Twist

The Mason twist is an advanced version that takes the Russian twist up a notch.  It follows the same movement pattern as the standard Russian twist.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs bent, feet flat on the ground, and heels lifted slightly.
  • Lean back until your torso forms a V shape with your thighs.
  • Place your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Twist your torso from side to side, tapping your hands on the ground on each side.
  • As you speed it up it gets tougher. Therefore, remember, take it at your own pace and listen to your body.
  • For beginners, it's recommended to start with at least 20 twists on each side.

Twist with Punches

This is again an advanced Russian twist exercise that fires up your abs by activating your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs bent, feet flat on the ground, and heels lifted slightly.
  • Lean back slightly to engage your core.
  • Hold your hands together in front of your chest, elbows bent.
  • As you twist your torso to one side, extend your arm and punch forward with power and speed.
  • Return your hand to the starting position as you twist back to the center, and then repeat on the other side.
  • Gradually increase the speed and intensity as you become more comfortable.
  • As a beginner, you can aim anywhere between 20 to 30 reps. 

Benefits Of Russian Twist

Getting those abs in shape is a key part of any solid strength training routine, and the Russian twist benefits you to get those. It also works wonders for building upper body strength. This comes in handy in so many sports. Whether you're swinging a tennis racket, diving into the pool, throwing a baseball, or tackling opponents on the football field, having a strong upper torso is key. 

Adding Russian twists to your upper body workout brings several core benefits which are as follows. 

1. Strengthens Core Muscle: As you continue to incorporate Russian twists into your routine, your core will grow stronger. This also improves your balance, stability, and spinal function (1). A stronger core also aids in maintaining good posture and reduces back pain.

According to Chief Brabon, a Certified Fitness Master and Co-Founder and Head Coach at TransformationCoach, “Russian twist is a strength exercise. In regards to the ‘Benefits’, Russian Twists do not burn many calories, and most definitely do not ‘Reduce Belly Fat’. They may however increase definition by increasing abdominal and oblique muscle mass.”

2. Burns Calories: The higher the intensity of the exercise, the more calories you will burn. Thus you may also lose weight. With just a 10 to 15-minute core workout, you can feel the burn in your core. This also reduces the risk of CVD like heart attack and stroke (2).

3. Reduces Belly Fat: The Russian twist works against stubborn belly fat. Belly fat can also lead to health issues like diabetes, heart troubles, and kidney problems (3). Hence, this exercise helps in improving your overall health. 


4. Convenience: It is a simple exercise that you can do at home. You can exclude all those expensive equipment and can still get those benefits. It is also great for beginners and individuals of all ages and genders. 

5. Prevents Injury: By strengthening your abdominal muscles and obliques, you enhance the stability of your bones and connective tissue, reducing the risk of falls and other injuries (1).

6. Flexibility: Although they may initially feel challenging, over time, your body will release tension and gradually improve its flexibility. It also prevents stiffness and is great for people with a sedentary lifestyle. 

7. Reduces Backpain: Getting regular exercise, especially core strengthening exercises, can help reduce the frequency of back pain. When you don't move around enough, your core muscles can become weak. This opens the door for backaches to sneak in (4). 

8. Improves Posture: One of the benefits of Russian twist is that it prevents slouchy posture and paves the way to a confident profile. This awesome move not only helps prevent a hunched back and related problems, but it also boosts your posture game. 

How to Perform Russian Twist Safely And Injury-free

People love Russian twists because they are simple to do and come with a boatload of benefits. But here's the thing, that many of us miss. It is not an exercise to rush through. It's not just the Russian twist, it happens with a lot of ab exercises. But when you're twisting your trunk with some weight involved, the risk of injury shoots up. So, let's take a closer look at how to perform those Russian twists safely and avoid any unwanted pain or injury.

1. Starting Position: First, take a seat on the floor or better, a comfy mat. Our contributor Mary Sabat says, “Using a mat in the Russian twist exercise offers multiple benefits. It provides cushioning and comfort for your lower back, reducing the risk of discomfort or pain during the exercise. A mat helps maintain proper form by allowing you to sit with your hips comfortably on the ground and maintain a stable base, which is crucial for engaging your core effectively.” 

So, use a mat. Then, place your feet firmly on the ground. Keep those heels down, but it's alright if your toes are slightly lifted.


2. Posture: Now, lean back a bit, and create 45 degrees between your torso and thighs. This position sets the stage for some serious core action. And don't forget to squeeze those glutes for stability. 


3. Take Care of the Spine: Keep that spine nice and straight, and avoid any slouching during the exercise.

4. Arm Position: Raise your arms straight out in front of you, like you're reaching for something. Also, keep your eyes locked on your hands (or the weight if you're using any). That way, you'll maintain focus throughout the movement.

5. Now Twist: Rotate that torso of yours from side to side and pause for a quick beat before switching to the other side. Take it nice and slow, and remember to inhale and exhale for each move. 

6. Hips And Knees: Throughout the twist, make sure your hips and knees are not shifting position. 

7. No.of Repeats: Lastly, you can choose to work with either a set amount of time or a specific number of reps. It is better to start slowly and increase the reps gradually. Find what works best for you and get those twists going. 


The benefits of Russian twists make them a fantastic addition to your fitness routine. Even if you're new to exercising, Russian twists are an accessible choice, to begin with. These exercises effectively target the core muscles while also engaging the shoulders and hips. However, it is crucial to pay attention to posture and hip placement to ensure safe and effective execution. By maintaining proper form during Russian twists, you can reap long-term benefits for your overall fitness and strength.

Contributor: Mary Sabat, RDN, LD, Ace Certified Trainer - Body Designs Ltd.


Do Russian twists burn belly fat?
Russian Twists is an ab exercise that focuses on obliques and reduces belly fat. It is also great for shedding love handles.

What are Russian twists good for?
The Russian twist is the ideal workout for strengthening the core (stomach, lower back, hips, and pelvis) and shoulders.

Will I get abs if I do Russian twists every day?
Russian twists focus on the obliques, which are the group of muscles that go from the rib cage to the pelvic area. So they effortlessly aid in the development of abs.

Do Russian twists give you curves?
One of the benefits of Russian twist is that it helps tone and tighten your abs and obliques, as well as reduce your waist and gives you curves.

Should you go heavy on Russian twists?
First, start with standard Russian twists and work your way up to weighted variations. Also, gradually increase the reps. Or else it may cause pain and injury.

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About The Author
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Health & Fitness Expert

Sanchari, a certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach



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