Want to learn how to do a Russian twist with correct form? Whittle your waist by strengthening your core, side abs and spine with this rotational exercise…

The Russian twist has long been a staple in any core workout worth its salt – so it’s worth learning how to do them with correct form. A dynamic move that hits the core muscle group from every angle, it’s primarily used to target the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), obliques (side abs) and erector spinae (spine muscles).

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But because it involves leaning back at an angle, the transverse abdominis (deep core muscles) also help with stabilisation, while the shoulders get a good workout too, even more so if you use a weight.

It’s not the easiest of moves to get right, and good form is paramount to avoid overstressing the lower back, so beginners should start with more basic core moves first. When you’re ready to move on to this exercise, follow these expert pointers from PT Josh Ivory.

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russian twist demonstration

How to do a Russian twist:

Note: If you’re a complete beginner to Russian twists, try practicing the movement without a dumbbell first.

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, and hold just one dumbbell at your chest.
  2. Brace your abs tight and lift your legs so they’re almost making a 90-degree angle (A).
  3. Rotate your torso to the right and tap the dumbbell on the floor just outside of your right hip (B).
  4. Pull the weight back to your chest and rotate to the left. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for the given reps.

Be sure to perform Russian twists on a supportive exercise mat. Try the Sundried Yoga Mat.


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Top tips for perfect form:

  • Follow the dumbbell with your eyes, as you rotate from side to side, to ensure a good head position and that full rotation is made.
  • Avoid rounding your shoulders. Elongate your spine at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
  • Engage your abdominals to keep your body stable throughout the move. Twist from the ribcage region, not from below the belly button.
  • Keep feet planted if you’re a beginner. Otherwise, lift them off the floor and hold them directly in front with a soft bend in the knee.
  • Breathe out as you rotate the weight away from you, breathe in as you return to centre. Use your core strength to twist back.

Model: Nicki Petitt-Ward | Photography: Eddie Macdonald | Clothing: Under Armour Meridian Ankle Leggings, £53, Infinity Bra, from £24.97, and HOVR Apex Trainers, £77.97