5 Russian Twist Variations That’ll Set Your Obliques on Fire

Add weight to your Russian twists to challenge your core even more!
Image Credit: Kanawa_Studio/iStock/GettyImages

Russian twists are a triple threat: They target your deep core, six-pack muscles and obliques. And while they're tough — the side-to-side movement requires significant strength and stability — there are ways to make them even harder once you've mastered the basic movement.

These five variations — courtesy of Ridge Davis, NCSF-certified trainer and creator of Ridgid Bootcamp — will hit different angles of your abs and light up your obliques in a whole new way.

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Tip

“Going slower is always going to make the twist harder and engage more muscle fibers,” Davis says. For a serious oblique burn, try holding each twist for 6 to 10 seconds, repeating 3 to 4 times per side.

1. Russian Twist With Hands Behind Head

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Elongate your spine until your body forms a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
  3. Actively engage your core further by drawing your bellybutton to your spine and place your hands behind your head with elbows wide.
  4. Maintain the V position while slowly rotating to reach your right elbow to the left knee, keeping your legs stationary.
  5. Return to center before rotating your left elbow to your right knee.
  6. Continue alternating sides.

Tip

This “no hands” variation requires more control and engagement of your upper abs, Davis says.

2. Russian Twist With Bicycle

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Elongate your spine until your body forms a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
  3. Actively engage your core further by drawing your bellybutton to your spine and clasp your hands in front of your chest with elbows wide.
  4. Maintain the V position while slowly rotating to reach your right elbow to the left side as you extend the left leg.
  5. Return to center before rotating your left elbow to your right side.
  6. Continue alternating sides.

Tip

The leg extension in this variation challenges your lower abs and balance and adds more weight and resistance to each rotation, Davis says.

3. Russian Twist With Mini Band

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Elongate your spine until your body forms a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
  3. Actively engage your core further by drawing your bellybutton to your spine and loop a mini band around your wrists.
  4. Extend your arms, keeping tension on the band.
  5. Maintain this position while slowly rotating your hands from side to side.

Tip

“This variation engages the upper body and requires awareness of posture and alignment,” Davis says.

4. Weighted Russian Twist

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Elongate your spine until your body forms a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
  3. Actively engage your core further by drawing your bellybutton to your spine and hold a dumbbell or medicine ball at your chest with elbows out wide.
  4. Maintain the V position while slowly rotating to reach your right elbow to the left knee.
  5. Return to center before rotating your left elbow to your right knee.
  6. Continue alternating sides.

Tip

“This variation is challenging because the weight requires you to reinforce and solidify your balance and inner core muscles (transverse abdominus),” Davis says.

5. Russian Twist With Punches

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Elongate your spine until your body forms a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your torso and thighs.
  3. Actively engage your core further by drawing your bellybutton to your spine and place your fists in front of your face in a boxing position.
  4. Slowly rotate to reach your elbow to the opposite knee and throw a controlled punch.
  5. Continue alternating sides.

Tip

“The explosive punches help engage your abs with your fast twitch muscle fibers,” Davis says.

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