Russian Twist: how to perform this exercise good for the abs without damaging your back?

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Written by Rédaction

Hyper effective for strengthening the abdominal strap, the Russian twist is an exercise to know for your muscle strengthening training. But be careful not to hurt your back to display well-drawn abs! You are taught how to perform this twist safely.

How to do a Russian twist?

Roughly speaking, it is a semi-sitting position which is done by leaning the bust back at a 45° angle while having the feet slightly off the ground, before rotating to the left then to the right with the upper body.

  • Sit on the floor then bend your legs, keeping only your heels on the ground.
  • Keep your back straight, then lean back, placing your arms so that your hands are level with your chest.
  • Then, keep your hips in line, then rotate your chest and your head to the left while exhaling until your hands touch (or almost) the floor on your left.
  • Then come back to the center while inhaling, before doing the same to the other side and then coming back to the center again.


Be careful, you must not just move your arms on either side of your body during the rotation. The movement must be guided by the bust, and therefore by the contraction of the abdominals. You must therefore feel your abdominals working during each rotation.
Another important fact: you must not have pain in the lower back when you perform this exercise. The Russian twist should not pull on your lower back if the exercise is performed correctly.

It is generally advisable to repeat the sequence about 20 times before giving yourself a minute of recovery, then starting the next series of Russian twist.

What muscles work during a Russian twist?

The Russian twist is a movement that will strengthen the entire abdominal strap because it involves sheathing , but it will particularly work the oblique muscles. It is indeed these muscles which are located on the sides of the abdomen (belly) which are the most stressed during the exercise. The obliques allow the bust to tilt and rotate, but not only: they also participate in defection and urination.

By doing a Russian twist, you also work the rectus abdominis muscle. It is a superficial muscle of the abdominals which is located between the pubis and the anterior part of the thorax. Finally, the lumbar muscles, which are attached to the spine, are also solicited by the rotations performed during the Russian twist exercise.

Thin waist, abs, rolls: what results to expect?

The benefits of these bodybuilding exercises that we often practice when doing fitness are obviously the improvement of posture and the strengthening of the abs thanks to the sheathing necessary during the position.

If this twist strengthens the obliques, do not count on it to lose fat mass in the belly. Localized fat loss is, remember, not possible. Even if it is sometimes attributed this asset among its benefits, the Russian twist will not particularly help you to lose your bulges or to refine your size.

Good abs, but not at the expense of the back!

Before embarking on a series of Russian twists to build your abs, be aware that this movement can create excessive compression on the lower back if you hurt them. The intervertebral discs can also be compressed due to posture. It is therefore essential not to take risks and to go step by step so as not to injure your back.

Our tips for successful posture

  • Keep in mind that the quality of the execution of the movement takes precedence over the quantity and the speed at which you do it.
  • If you do not master the posture at the beginning, do not lean too far back to start and keep your feet flat on the ground until you are comfortable, this will limit the risk of injury.
  • Be careful to move only the upper body and not the pelvis which must remain in line with the legs.
  • Be sure to keep your spine straight throughout the rotation.

Variations of the Russian twist

Once you’re comfortable with the Russian twist, you can spice it up a bit in several ways:

  • Take your feet off the ground to accentuate the imbalance and work on the core even more.
  • Lean a little further back to strengthen the transverse muscles more.
  • Carry a weight in your hands during exercise such as a ball, dumbbell, or even a water bottle. Start with a weight of 2 kg no more and increase this weight as you go.
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