Seated Oblique Twists With a Medicine Ball

Woman exercising with medicine ball in fitness center
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The seated oblique twist exercise, sometimes called the Russian twist, is a very effective exercise for strengthening the abdominal muscles. Using a medicine ball in the exercise adds a challenge to the workout.


  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (easier) or raised up off the floor (more difficult). If you have difficulty holding the position and your feet shift about, try tucking them beneath a stable object.
  2. Contract your abs and sit at about a 45 degrees angle.
  3. Hold the medicine ball with both hands, directly in front of you.
  4. Contracting your abs, twist slowly from your torso to your right and touch the medicine ball to the floor beside you. Pause to hold the position a moment.
  5. Quickly, but smoothly, contract your abs and twist your torso back to the center position, and then proceed on to touch the medicine ball to the floor on the other side of you.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Ab Muscles Worked

The oblique twist is a great exercise that works many muscles in your core. Not only does it exercise the rectus abdominis, but it also hits the external obliques and internal obliques. Adding a weight, medicine ball or stability ball in the exercise (see variations below), adds tension to the core muscles, really giving them a workout.

Strengthening the core muscles is important to your health and fitness. A stronger core protects your spine, promotes good posture and helps with balance. If you're looking to lose weight, a strong core is like a fat furnace that burns all the time, even when you're not working out. If you sit at a desk for work, for example, your strengthened core will help you sit with better posture. This can help you avoid lower back pain and lessen overall exhaustion and muscle soreness.


If beginning with a medicine ball is too challenging, perform the exercise with nothing your hands. Hold your arms extended out in front of you and follow the same motion as described above. Twist to each side until your arms are parallel to the floor (since there's no ball to touch to the floor). This will help you become familiar with the exercise and build up your strength to the point that you can add the medicine ball to the exercise.

You can move up a step in intensity by holding a small stability ball during the exercise. Hold it between your hands with arms extended out away from the body. Twist to each side until your arms are parallel to the floor.

If you can't find a medicine ball to use at your gym, you can use other weights in a variation. For example, hold a weight plate firmly by the edges between your hands with arms extended outward in front of you and perform the exercise. Twist until your arms are parallel to the floor on each side.

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