Just like the salad dressing, no one knows how this abdominal drill became “Russian,” but (again, like the dressing) it’s too good to worry about the name. No core-training program or ab day would be complete without the oblique conditioning you’ll get from the Russian twist. If you’re already on your way to six-pack abs, this drill might help you bump it up to an eight-pack. For the rest of us, the loaded twisting makes a pretty fantastic core challenge.

For beginners

This is an advanced ab drill that requires significant core strength to execute safely. If you have a history of back pain or injury, give this one a pass.

Best practices

  • Stay balanced: As you lean back, use the medicine ball or weight to help you balance.
  • Don’t be Russian it: (See what we did there?) Move slowly and really grind out each rep for the biggest bang for your buck.

Master this: Russian Twist

  1. Sit on the floor with bent knees, holding a medicine ball, SandBell or other weight in your lap.
  2. Lean back, lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees bent, and hold the weight out in front of your torso.
  3. Twist by rotating the weight to your left, keeping your eyes on the weight so your whole upper body rotates together.
  4. Keep your legs still as your upper body twists.
  5. Slowly come back to center, and repeat on the other side. Do as many reps as you can without dropping your feet to the floor.

Make it easier: Keep your feet on the floor, use a lighter weight or don’t use any weight at all.

Make it harder: Lean back farther, use a heavier weight or try scissoring your legs at the same time.

Photo credit: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Model: Raymond Bentley, 24 Hour Fitness