Russian Twist Exercise Guide

Reviewed by Valerie Zeller Valerie Zeller Printable version

A Russian Twist is an abdominal exercise that emphasizes the obliques, the abdominal muscles running down either side of your upper body. It involves twisting your body from side to side in the “sit-up” position, and often includes the use of a heavy weight, such as a medicine ball or kettlebell, to add resistance and build explosiveness in the upper torso.

Russian Twist

How to do Russian Twist


Sit with your hands clasped, knees bent and heels off the ground. Touch your hands to the ground each time you twist from side to side. If you want, hold a weighted ball!


  • This technique will be suitable for breastfeeding, so please consult with the healthcare professional first. Make sure to let your professor know you're planning until class starts and he or she can track everything.

  • When you reach the stage that you can do multiple attempts without too much exertion, you can render this step more complex by utilizing a heavy weighted item like a kettlebell, medicine ball or weighted.

  • Because this exercise does impose pressure on your knees, you may find more support by placing a band around them or a ball between them to provide stabilization.


  • Do not allow your body to sway back and forth as you twist.

Exercise Benefits

  • Arm Strength

  • Chest Strength

  • Core Strength

Illustrated Guide

Learn how to do russian twist from this step-by-step illustrations:

Russian Twist 1
Russian Twist 2
Russian Twist 3
Russian Twist 5

Muscles Worked

The muscles used for russian twist may change slightly based on the your trained range of motion and technique, but in the most general case, the muscles used for russian twist are:

Primary Muscles

  • Abs
  • Quadriceps
  • Obliques

Synergyst Muscles

  • Lower Abs
  • Upper Abs

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does Russian Twist work?
Russian Twist works abs, quadriceps, obliques.
What is Russian Twist good for?
Russian Twist is beneficial for conditioning and to strengthen. It works the best for core, hips, legs, lower body, upper legs and waist, as it works abs, quadriceps, obliques. Russian Twist is a great bodyweight exercise for men, men over 50, women and women over 50.
Is Russian Twist a good exercise?
Russian Twist is a popular bodyweight exercise for abs, quadriceps, obliques.

Training, Progressions and Regressions

Interested in how to improve your Russian Twist faster?

Russian Twist Training and Progressions

Standards and Averages

Wonder how do others perform in Russian Twist and how should you?

Russian Twist Standards and Averages


Wonder how to work the same muscles with other exercises?

Russian Twist Alternatives


Wonder how to make Russian Twist either easier or more challenging?

Russian Twist Variations

Discover more


Type(s) Bodyweight, Calisthenic, Strength
Muscles Worked Abdominals, Quadriceps, Obliques, Lower Abdominals, Upper Abdominals
Difficulty Level(s) Moderate
Equipment No Equipment, Weight Plates
Location At Gym, At Home, Outdoor
Major Exercise Twist

Muscles Worked

Target muscle(s) Abs, Quadriceps, Obliques
Synergyst muscle(s) Lower Abs, Upper Abs

Related exercises

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