How to Do a Side Twist With the Dumbbell

How to Do a Side Twist With the Dumbbell

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Tone and condition your entire core with dumbbell side twists.

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The side twist, also called the Russian twist, is a complex abdominal exercise that targets the obliques -- or sides -- but also engages the upper and lower abdominal regions. As the name implies, this exercise uses a rotating motion while you are seated to work your core. Adding a dumbbell for resistance ups the ante, making the side twist more effective and leading to visible results sooner. Grab a dumbbell and twist away with proper form to prevent injuries and tone your abs.


Get your body ready to work out with five to 10 minutes of an easy activity that gets your heart rate up, such as walking or biking. Warm up your core muscles further with a few basic crunches, side crunches and “superman” back extensions.


Select a weight that seems fairly light to you. You want to be able to move the dumbbell around freely during the exercise without feeling as if it limits your range of motion. If you are unsure, remember you can always make adjustments later.


Sit down on the floor with straight posture with your knees bent. Hold the dumbbell in front of your torso with both hands and your elbows pointed out to the sides.


Shift your weight backward onto your tailbone as you lean back with your entire upper body. Find your balance spot and if you are able to, lift your feet a few inches off the floor the engage your lower abdominals.


Maintain your balance, and rotate your entire upper body to the left and then all the way to the right for one repetition. Make sure you get a full twist by rotating until your chest and shoulders are facing the wall to your side. The dumbbell should stay still and move with your upper body.


Do at least two or three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, and make sure to breathe as normally as possible throughout your sets and reps.


  • Adjust the challenge level of this exercise by leaning back farther with your upper body. The farther you can lean back while maintaining your balance, the more challenging the side twists will be.


  • Using too heavy of a dumbbell during this exercise can put excess stress on your erector spinae, a stabilizing muscle in your lower back. Prevent lower-back pain and injuries by making sure the weight you use is appropriate for your current fitness level.
  • Since the side twist requires you to use all parts of your core, it is considered an advanced exercise. Do not try this exercise if you are very new to abdominal exercises; develop a basic level of muscular fitness in your core before giving weighted side twists a try.