Looking to work with your whole core with one challenging move? You may want to add Russian twists to your routine. Russian twists are an abdominal exercise that will help tone your entire core area, including your obliques and transverse abdominis (intrinsic stabilizer muscles), and even strengthening your hip flexors.
One great reason to add Russian twists to your usual core routine is that they are highly adaptable: They can be easily adjusted for beginners and made more challenging for seasoned fitness goers. You can lift your feet off the ground for a challenge or keep them down if you are new to the exercise. Later, you can add weights or even perform them on a balance ball as you get stronger.
We asked Aubre Winters, fitness instructor, trainer, and creator of Sweat Sessions, how to perform Russian twists and how to add them to your workouts.
How to Perform a Russian Twist
- Start seated, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the mat out in front of you. Your feet should press firmly down into your mat.
- Sit up nice and tall as you begin to sit back at a 45-degree angle, maintaining a long, straight spine. While there are many variations you can take in this position (elevate your feet, cross-body punch, heavy weights, light weights, etc.), the most standard would be to place your hands together at heart center (or grab a weight to hold between your hands) and begin to rotate from one side, center, and then over to the other.
- You exhale as you rotate to the right, inhale to return to center, exhale to rotate to the left, and inhale to return to center.
- Move slowly, with control, and do your best to keep your hips still and your feet flat.
How to Add Russian Twists to Your Workouts
Winters says the number of Russian twists you perform should depend on your workout goals and current fitness level.
You can try 12 to 15 Russian twists to start, then work your way up to 3 to 4 sets.
You can also perform Russian twists as part of a circuit with other abs exercises, getting as many reps as possible in one minute. Work up to 3 to 4 minutes of twists as you get stronger.
This move works your obliques and core and stabilizes your spine, Winters notes.
Who Should Avoid Russian Twists?
If you are pregnant, avoid Russian twists. (There are plenty of other modified, core-focused exercises you can do in a safe way that strengthen your core during pregnancy.)
Additionally, if you have really tight hip flexors, Russian twists may cause discomfort.