Standing Abdominal Twist

Isolation exercise, Free weights


Main muscles

  • Abdomen: External oblique abdominal muscle
    (Musculus obliquus externus abdominis)

Training plans

Standing Abdominal Twist is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in or as a supplement to various training plans.

Standing Abdominal Twist: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Standing Abdominal Twist

Involved main muscle groups:
Standing Abdominal Twist

Standing Abdominal Twists (or Standing Russian Twists) are a great alternative to Seated Abdominal Twists. Both exercises can be done at home without any equipment and focus on the lateral abdominal muscles. You’ll turn your upper body in a controlled motion to the left and right, activating these muscles.

At the gym, you might want to check out the rotary torso machine, which allows you to perform Abdominal Twists on the machine.

Compared to seated twists, standing ones engage the midsection less, meaning the straight abdominal muscles are less involved. This makes the exercise an easier introduction for beginners to familiarize themselves with the movement.

Correct execution

Standing Abdominal Twists can be performed in three different ways:

  • Without additional weight
  • With additional weight (usually a weight plate)
  • With a barbell as an anchor point

The first two variations, with and without weight, are practically identical in execution. For additional weight, you can use a weight plate, dumbbell, kettlebell, or any other weight that you can safely and symmetrically hold with both hands.

The Standing Russian Twist with the barbell as an anchor works slightly differently (see below).

Video tutorial

Standing Russian Twists (Abdominals & Core)

Step-by-step instructions

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the additional weight in both hands directly in front of your body, around the level of your upper abs. Keep your arms slightly bent.

Turn to one side. The opposite leg rotates a bit, and you slightly bend the knee.

Before turning to the other side, pause in the middle for a brief moment. This ensures that you perform the exercise without swinging and maintain proper form.

Perform the twisting motion in a controlled manner, without swinging. The faster your movement, the more it becomes a cardio-focused exercise.

Alternative execution with barbell

This variation with the barbell also targets the lateral abdominal muscles. To do this, secure the barbell in a corner or suitable mount without additional weight. Some power racks may have mounts at the bottom of one corner.

Grab the barbell with extended arms so that your hands are just above your head. Keep your upper body upright. By moving the barbell from side to side, you rotate your upper body. Your arms remain extended, and your feet stay in place. The movement comes exclusively from your upper body. The following video shows the motion sequence in detail.

Standing Russian Twist

Common mistakes

You may come across videos online of people yanking the weight from one side to the other. Avoid doing this at all costs. It doesn’t provide a better training stimulus, and it puts more stress on your joints, including your spine. Always perform the movement from one side to the other in a conscious, controlled manner, without swinging.