How to Do the Medicine Ball Twist Crunch

woman doing medicine ball crunches in gym
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The medicine ball twist crunch is a relatively advanced exercise for the abdominals. It is also known as the Russian twist and the seated oblique twist. It is a variation of the side or twist crunch, which is similar to a standard crunch with shoulders lifted from the ground and abdominals braced, except you twist the body to one side then the other in alternating crunches. With the medicine ball twist crunch, you hold a medicine ball at the chest and, as you lift, you swing the ball to one side and return

Muscles Worked by the Medicine Ball Twist Crunch

This exercise targets the abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques. These muscles are at the center and sides of the abdomen. The rectus abdominis allows you to bend at the waist and supports the spine, while the obliques allow you to twist at the waist.

How to Perform the Medicine Ball Twist Crunch

  1. Lie on a mat or surface suitable for doing floor exercises.
  2. Select a medicine ball light enough to enable you to swing it to one side and return to starting position, yet heavy enough to make you work hard. Start with a lighter ball and switch to a heavier ball as you feel confident. The weight of the ball is generally between six and 12 pounds.This exercise can be performed with a hand weight or kettlebell if you prefer those to a medicine ball.
  3. Lie on your back with your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle and your feet on the floor. You can hold the legs straight out, but keeping the knees flexed gives you more stability.
  4. Hold the medicine ball at the chest. Brace the abdominal muscles.
  5. Lift the shoulders as you would for a standard crunch, and swing the ball to one side at the same time. Return the ball to the chest as you lower your shoulders to the floor. You may need to lift the shoulders a little higher than you would in a standard floor crunch.
  6. The ball should swing across the body to approximately the outside of the hip/thigh region. You can vary this position. As you lower the shoulders, bring the ball back to the chest position.
  1. Be sure that your motion is twisting at the ribs and waist with the abs doing the work, and that you aren't twisting with your shoulders instead.
  2. Perform a set of 12 to 16 repetitions.
  3. Find out more about weight training principles and exercise description if you need background information before you try this exercise.


  1. Perform the exercise while lying on a BOSU balance trainer or a stability disk. This will add instability and more of a challenge to the exercise.
  2. Perform the twist with your knees bent but heels raised from the floor for a more difficult exercise.

About Abdominal Exercises