The Best Ab Workout, Made Better

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The russian twist has always been viewed as a go-to for flat, firm abs. This might not exactly be true – great abs are more of a product of the perfect balance of nutrition, cardio, and strength training – but it is a great move for core strength. Russian Twists are not without faults however. Namely, the move can give undue stress on the neck, back, and spine. Russian twists are typically performed in a held sit-up position, with the chest held high and the hands holding an implement like a dumbbell, plate, or medicine ball. The lifter then twists the upper body to one side, and then the other.

The twisting action engages the obliques, but it also places unwanted stress on the neck and spine, while promoting poor posture. The thoracic (mid back) region typically tends to slouch during this movement, and the muscles of the back are pulled into an unwanted stretch while baring load – especially as the lifter begins to become fatigued during a set.

There’s a better way: The standing Russian Twist. Having the spine stacked properly over the hips in an upright position creates fewer forces on the back, and encourages good posture and proper movement. It also allows the muscles of the back to contribute for a more complete core workout.

Here’s how to do it:

-Grab an unloaded barbell and position one end of the barbell in any stable wall corner.

-Hold the other end in both hands, with arms outstretched.

-With a slight bend in the knees, bring the bar down to one side of your hips, twisting the chest, shoulders and head in the same direction. You can do the same with a medicine ball or a barbell, but having a barbell is more stable and will allow you to use more weight.. 

-In one motion, swing the weight back to the start position and across to the opposite side hip. Attempt to bend the elbows as minimally as possible throughout the set.

– Stay tall, and keep the feet firmly planted. Perform sets of 15 rotations in each direction, and when the movement begins to feel easy, feel free to add weight to the end of the bar that you’re holding.

-Don’t add more than 5 pounds at a time – it won’t take much extra weight to hit the core hard.