Russian Twist Workouts for Powerful Core Strength and Abs

These Russian Twist workouts all offer effective ways for you to add this highly useful exercise into your training.

Muscles Worked by Russian Twists

A popular and simple way to strengthen your core and build a six pack, Russian Twists are a ubiquitous movement throughout many different sports and disciplines. In addition, they provide many ancillary benefits for the upper body, back and legs. 

Russian Twists work the following muscles:

  • Rectus abdominis
  • Transverse abdominis
  • Obliques
  • Hip flexors
  • Erector spinae
  • Scapular muscles
  • Latissimus dorsi

If you want to develop your abs and develop more prominent oblique muscles then Russian Twists are a great choice to help you achieve this aim.

Benefits of Russian Twist Workouts

Many core and abs workouts move the body through the frontal (side to side) and sagittal (forwards and backwards) plane of motion. Russian Twists operate the body through the transverse plane of motion by twisting the trunk of the core. This will attack and strengthen your abs and core in a unique way, as well as uncovering and eliminating any weak spots you may have.

Adding Russian Twists in different ways into the selection of workouts below will allow you to alter the stimulus (and therefore the focus and benefits) of each workout according to your personal goals.

See below for the full list of exactly how each of the Russian Twist Workouts will benefit you.

How to do Russian Twists

  1. Sit on the floor with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees. Grip the weight (dumbbell, bumper plate, kettlebell etc) in both hands
  2. Hold the weight with your arms extended in front of you and keep your back straight (your torso should be at about 45 degrees to the floor)
  3. Inhale and brace your core, glutes and grip. Lift your feet 6 inches above the floor
  4. Twist your torso as far as you can to the left. Then reverse the motion, twisting as far as you can to the right. That’s one rep
  5. Repeat

Training Tips for Russian Twists

If you are new to Russian Twists, perform them first with your feet firmly planted into the floor. This will help you to get a feel for the overall movement. Once you feel confident, raise your feet and try the full exercise.

If you have difficulty balancing or controlling your legs then cross them during the movement.

Always maintain a straight spine. Don’t allow your back to round or your posture to crumple.

Controlling your breathing is the key to maintaining full body stability throughout the movement.

Allow your gaze to follow the movement of your hands.

Stimulus of each Workout

  • Workout 1 – High volume. Lots of time under tension. Works the balance and core in relation to the lower body as well
  • Workout 2 – Destroy the core from four different angles. Acute focus on each exercise. Great for abs
  • Workout 3 – Good mix of static holds and dynamic core movements
  • Workout 4 – Tests and improves the core under longer, fatigued conditions at a high heart rate
  • Workout 5 – Great grunt work to build mental toughness and explosive power for the core
  • Workout 6 – Partner workout with multiple planes of movement. Great for abs
  • Workout 7 – Partner workout for improving muscular core endurance
  • Workout 8 – Core focused full body conditioning workout
  • Workout 9 – 6 Pack building ab workout
  • Workout 10 – 20-minute core focused grunt work ab workout. Great mental challenge


If you need to scale the Russian Twist then simply perform it with no weight. You can see an example of this in the video below.


2 Rounds for Time

  • 21 Russian Twists
  • 15 Reverse Lunges
  • 9 Squats to Sit
  • 15 Russian Twists
  • 12 Reverse Lunges
  • 9 Squats to Sit
  • 12 Russian Twists
  • 9 Reverse Lunges
  • 6 Squats to Sit

2 minutes Rest after Round 1

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for two rounds. Athlete must perform 21 Russian Twists, 15 Reverse Lunges, and 9 Squats to Sit before moving on to 15, 12, 9 reps, and 12-9-6 reps respectively. Rest 2 minutes after completing the first round.

If you have a weighted object, use it for Russian Twists and Reverse Lunges. For the Squats to Sit, squat down to a chair, medicine ball or a footstool. Aim is to control down then disengage at the bottom for a brief second, reengage and come back up for 1 rep.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Squats to Sit is completed.

Intended Stimulus

Larger numbers are aimed to give your abs/core a good blast. Reverse Lunges are designed to work on your balance along while stimulating legs. Squats to Sit encourages you to have a better connection with your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

The rep scheme encourages you to keep a good speed and pacing. The 2-minute rest is to encourage you to push in the 2nd round, overall holding your original score.


Four Tabatas in 19 minutes

  • Tabata Russian Twists
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata Reverse Lunges
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata V-Ups
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata Overhead Squats

On a 19-minute clock, perform the prescribed work in the order written.

A Tabata is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 intervals. You can add extra weight for the Russian Twists and Overhead Squats, e.g. water bottle, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc. Rest 1 minute after each Tabata.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed for each movement.

AThlete performing Russian Twist Workouts with muscle ups on the rings.
A strong core will help you progress in many areas ©Luis Lopes


3 Rounds for Time

  • 15 Dumbbell Sit-Ups (50/35 lb)
  • 20 Dumbbell Russian Twists (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Right Side Plank with Hip Raises
  • 10 Left Side Plank with Hip Raises
  • 10 V-Ups

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 3 rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of V-Ups is completed.



3 Rounds for Time

  • 15 Sit-Ups
  • 20 Russian Twists
  • 10 Right Side Plank with Hip Raises
  • 10 Left Side Plank with Hip Raises
  • 10 V Crunches


5 Rounds For Time

  • 100/80/60/40/20 Single Unders
  • 75/60/45/30/15 Dumbbell Ground-to-Overheads (35/25 lb)
  • 50/40/30/20/10 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 30/24/18/12/6 Russian Twists (20/15 lb) (2-count)
  • 20/16/12/8/4 Deadlifts (bodyweight)

With a running clock, perform all 5 rounds of the workout, with descending repetitions for each movement each round.

For example, round 1 is 100 single-unders, 75 ground-to-overheads, 50 calories on the Assault Bike, etc. Round 2 is 80, 60, 40, etc. of the same movements. Continue until the 5th and final round of 20, 15, 10, 6, and 4 reps.


For time, 6 rounds of:

  • 400 meter Weighted Run (35/25 lb)
  • 19 Dumbbell Hang Squat Cleans (2×35/25 lb)
  • 18 Devil Presses (2×35/25 lb)
  • 65 Russian Twists (35/25 lb)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 6 rounds. Before starting the workout, complete the buy-in of 65 seconds moment of silence.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Russian Twists is completed.


Two Parts (with a partner)

(A) “Tunnel of Love,” For Time:

  • 1000 meter Row (Partner 2 Jumps Rope*)

*Switch every 500 meters; For each jump rope break both partners rest 15 seconds (mandatory)

(B) “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…So are Medicine Balls,” AMRAP in 20 minutes of:

  • 50 Partner Med Ball Russian Twists (20 lb)
  • 40 Partner Med Ball Sit-Ups (20 lb)
  • 30 Slam Balls (20 lb)
  • 20 Wall Ball Shots (20 lb)

Use a single medicine ball throughout

For Part A, start the row and jump rope together and switch each 500 meters. If partner jumping rope breaks, rowing partner must put down the rower handle and both partners wait 15 seconds before resuming.

For Part B, use a single medicine ball (or slam ball) throughout. For the Russian Twists, partners sit back-to-back with feet elevated off the floor and rotate to hand the ball to each other. Each hand off is one rep. For partner sit-ups, sit facing each other. Partner must touch the ball on the ground behind their head, sit-up, then hand or pass the ball to their partner to complete one rep. For the slam balls and wall balls, break up the work as needed between partners.


For Time (with a Partner)

  • 76 Air Squats
  • 76 Dumbbell Push Presses (2×50/30 lb)
  • 76 AbMat Sit-Ups
  • 76 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
  • 76 Burpees
  • 76 Med Ball Twists (20/14 lb)
  • 76 Push-Ups
  • 76 Kettlebell Swings (53/35 lb)
  • 76 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/30 lb)
  • 400 meter Run with Partner

Partition into any size sets, but split the work evenly between partners.


AMRAP in 15 minutes

  • 150 Double-Unders
  • 45 GHD Sit-Ups
  • 60 Ball Slams (30/20 lb)
  • 30 Hand Release Push-Ups
  • 90 Thrusters (45/35 lb)
  • 30 Russian Twists (30/20 lb)
  • 15 Floor to Overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 800 metre Run


5 Rounds for Time

  • 10 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 10 Sit ups
  • 10 Ground to Overhead (95/65 lb)
  • 10 Toes to Bar / Knees to Elbows
  • 10 Russian Twists (25/15 lb)
  • 10 V-Ups
  • 10 second hollow hold


AMRAP in 20 minutes

  • 10 Medicine Ball Cleans (20/16 lb)
  • 10 Medicine Ball Burpees
  • 10 Medicine Ball Push-Ups
  • 10 Russian Twists (20/16 lb)
  • 10 Sit Ups
  • 10 calorie Assault Air Bike

These Russian Twist workouts will all test and improve your body in multiple different ways.

As an exercise, the Russian Twist is a perfect way to strengthen and develop your core strength. This is turn will help you to stabilise and control the movements of your body, as well as protect your spine and improve your posture.

The Russian Twist has direct crossovers into outdoor fitness activities such as climbing, kayaking and wild swimming. In general life, this exercise will improve everything from chopping wood through to putting up a hammock. A strong core is an investment for life, as it will help to protect your body throughout your entire life, especially into old age.

Russian Twist FAQs

What are Russian Twists Good for?

Russian twists strengthen your core, obliques, and spine. It’s a total core exercise that also works your balance, builds stability in your spine, and trims your mid-section all at once.

Are Russian Twists Good for Belly Fat?

Russian twists can help burn love handles or the excess fat at the side of your belly. Russian twist works the obliques, abs, and lats. Fat loss will not occur without an intelligent nutrition plan. Training alone is not enough.

Why is it Called a Russian Twist?

While the exact origin of its name is unknown, it is speculated that the Russian Twist was developed in the former Soviet Union during the Cold War as a training exercise for Russian soldiers.

Are Russian Twists Muscular Strength or Endurance?

The Russian twist can help us create core isometric strength while adding a dynamic motion into the mix (rotational training) resulting in better core stability and control for things like gymnastics, weightlifting, and endurance training.

What can I use instead of Russian Twists?

A great substitute for Russian twists are medicine ball passes. You will get the same core engagement without the added strain, and it’s a great way to work out with a partner.

Is the Russian Twist Bad for You?

The Russian twist is generally safe for most people and easy to perform. You may consult with a doctor or professional trainer if you have any lower back injuries or health conditions that may be affected while performing the exercise. Avoid the exercise if you have pain or discomfort while performing it.

How Do you Make Russian Twists Harder?

Adding a heavier weight with the feet off the floor is an advanced version of the Russian twist. The farther you hold the weight from your chest, the more challenging the exercise. Holding a dumbbell with both hands, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your bum.

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