Russian twists are a resistance training exercise for your core muscles. Stronger individuals may need the weighted variations to see progress.
As a general guideline, the closer you keep the weights against your body, the more challenging the weighted Russian twists will be for your obliques compared to your abs.
This is not necessarily better or worse for everyone. What you prefer depends on your training goals.
Another thing to note is that some people find Russian twists challenging on their backs. These individuals likely want to play it safe and not do the exercise with weights.
1. Russian twist with dumbbell
You can describe dumbbells as the handles with a weight on each side. Their first benefit is that basically all good gyms have a set of dumbbells.
Getting used to this version allows you to do Russian twists with weights in most gyms.
A more specific reason to do Russian twists with dumbbells is that these pieces of fitness equipment are relatively convenient to hold.
You grab one weight with each hand and because the dumbbells are so compact, you do not have to do any additional balancing.
The bulky dumbbells of higher weights would be less convenient to handle but because the core muscles worked in Russian twists are relatively weak, you will likely not encounter this issue.
Dumbbells are also relatively good as pieces of home gym fitness equipment due to their versatility. One downside in this area is that they can be pricey. Especially if you buy an entire set instead of adjustable models.
2. Kettlebell Russian twist
Kettlebells are big metal balls with a handle. This somewhat unique form makes them great for specific exercises like the kettlebell swing. Even so, you can also use them as resistance in movements like the Russian twist.
You simply hold the handle with a hand on each side, choose how far you want to keep the kettlebell away from your body, and do the exercise.
The main reasons to use a kettlebell instead of one of the other weights are personal preference and if you don’t have any other fitness equipment you like for this movement available.
Additionally, there are soft kettlebells that can be less painful for you and less damaging to your floor than metal weights if you drop the resistance during the Russian twists.
You could consider investing in kettlebells if you don’t have any other fitness equipment at home. However, typically, alternatives like a barbell set-up, resistance band set, and/or dumbbells are recommended first.
3. Russian twist with medicine ball
Medicine balls are weighted balls with a soft outer shell. These are likely the first piece of equipment most people think about when hearing the words weighted Russian twists.
This is partly just because many people choose medicine balls but they also offer a few advantages.
First of all, some people like to tap their weight on the ground in each Russian twist repetition.
The medicine ball will be less damaging to the floor when doing this and because it is somewhat bigger, you don’t have to reach down as much.
Secondly, if you do manage to drop your weight during Russian twists, this will be less painful with a medicine ball than with something like a dumbbell.
One downside of medicine ball Russian twists is that holding the weight is not that convenient due to the lack of handles.
This is not the biggest issue because you will likely not use that much resistance but something to keep in mind.
Besides that, medicine balls are not as common as some of the other weights on this list. Additionally, investing in them may feel like too much for their somewhat specific uses.
4. Russian twist with weight plate
Similar to dumbbells, basically any good gym will have weight plates. Especially the ones with handles can be a decent equipment choice for Russian twists.
First of all, there is simply some personal preference involved. You may like doing Russian twists with weight plates more than dumbbells for some reason.
That being said, in the smaller weight ranges, an additional benefit of Russian twists with weight plates is that you can implement small weight jumps.
This can be useful for progressing in mass and strength. Especially in relatively weak muscles like the obliques and abs Russian twists focus on.
On the flip side, you also have this in the opposite way from a certain point on. If you get to a point where Russian twists with 10-pound (5 kg) weight plates become too easy, the weight jumps will be relatively big.
Additionally, some people find that weight plates are a bit bulky for Russian twists and interfere with the movement.
5. Russian twist with barbell (landmine setup)
A landmine setup is where you anchor one end of a barbell close to the ground. You can then hold the other end to do a variety of movements with resistance to work your muscles.
One of the landmine core exercises you can do is a landmine rotation, also called a Russian twist with a barbell. In this movement, you stand up with your face toward the anchor and move the barbell from side to side.
While you can call it a barbell Russian twist, this movement is somewhat different from other weighted Russian twists in terms of muscles worked.
More specifically, you will focus less on your abs and more on the obliques that are responsible for tilting your body from one side to the other.
These are not necessarily good or bad for every individual. You want to think about your training goals and the equipment you have available and decide whether this type of Russian twists with weights is for you.
6. Cable Russian twist
Cable machines are constructions where a cable is connected to weights on one side and has a free end on the other side.
You can hold this free end, potentially with cable attachments, to make a variety of movements weighted.
There are two main ways to use this type of equipment for Russian twists.
The most popular one is using it to make a standing Russian twist weighted. In simpler words, you stand up straight with your side to the cable machine and the cable in your hands.
After that, you rotate your upper body against the resistance.
Another option is setting the pulley to a high setting and sitting in front of the cable machine. This way you still get the ab muscle engagement similar to regular Russian twists.
If you don’t care about the ab muscle engagement in Russian twists, the first cable machine version could be something you like.
Additionally, the weight jumps of a cable machine are relatively small which can be helpful for core training.
On the flip side, not all gyms have cable machines. Besides that, you may simply not like the somewhat unique feeling of the cable Russian twists.
7. Banded Russian twist
Resistance bands are basically elastic loops or cords that create resistance as you stretch them out. This allows you to make a variety of strength training exercises harder.
To use these pieces of fitness equipment for weighted Russian twists, you need a sturdy anchor. After that, the ways you can do banded Russian twists are the same as the cable machine versions above.
That being said, there are three differences with the cable version.
First of all, resistance bands are a lot more budget-friendly and more suited for at-home workouts than cable machines.
Secondly, the tension of resistance bands is not consistent. As you stretch them out, the resistance becomes bigger. This is not necessarily bad but you could dislike the feel.
Thirdly, it is harder to set and adjust the resistance of bands precisely. Exactly how far you sit/stand away from the anchor influences these things and taking out your ruler before every workout is not that convenient.
8. Russian twists with wrist weights
Wrist weights are basically wrist straps with extra weights attached to them. These pieces of fitness equipment can be great for Russian twists for a few reasons.
First of all, you can’t drop the weights since they are strapped to your arms.
Another benefit of this is that you don’t have to focus on holding anything. You can simply do the Russian twist movement as you always do.
Next, adjustable wrist weights typically have relatively small weight jumps. This tends to be good for progressing in ab and oblique muscle size and strength.
A small downside of wrist weights is that you likely need to invest a bit extra in them.
Some models also have relatively low upper weight limits that could be too easy for people more advanced when it comes to core workouts.
9. Russian twists with heavy backpack
All these pieces of fitness equipment can be good to do Russian twists with weights but you don’t want to forget about the regular household objects around you.
Something like a backpack with some books or water bottles can be a decent way to add resistance to Russian twists and challenge your core muscles more.
At the same time, there are also a few downsides to keep in mind.
First of all, a backpack is not the most convenient object to hold in your two hands. At least compared to many of the other options on this list.
Secondly, depending on what objects you have available, it can be a bit more challenging or require some extra effort to adjust your weights precisely and in small jumps.
So Russian twists with a heavy backpack are not ideal but if you don’t want to invest in any pieces of fitness equipment, you can likely make it work.
10. Russian twists with workout sandbag
Workouts sandbags are simply sandbags with some extra handles to make them more convenient in resistance training exercises.
When it comes to weighted Russian twists, sandbags can be used but are not the most ideal pieces of fitness equipment.
First of all, workout sandbags tend to be somewhat bulkier to allow for heavy weights. This can be good for heavy lifts like back squats but suboptimal for Russian twists.
Additionally, adjusting the weights precisely will require a scale and some extra time and attention. This is doable but at the same time, more work than many of the other weights.
People who are looking for good pieces of home training equipment can consider workout sandbags and keep in mind that these can be used for Russian twists.
At the same time, if you are putting together an exercise routine where Russian twists will be one of the main exercises, you will likely prefer one of the other options.
Weighted Russian twist benefits
By now, you know about a variety of ways to do them but you may need a refresher on what weighted Russian twists can be good for. Some of the potential benefits include:
- More muscle growth and strength potential: To grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure. When bodyweight Russian twists start to become too easy, adding weights can help you get more and faster results.
- Can save you time: Especially for resistance training, an effective workout does not necessarily mean spending a lot of time. By adding weights to Russian twists you can speed up your core workouts.
- Other Russian twist benefits to a larger extent: Moving more intensely to safe extents offers more general health benefits too. By adding weights, you typically get these to a larger extent.
One thing to note is that your body needs to be strong enough to be able to deal with weighted Russian twists to avoid downsides.
If this is the case, adding weights can offer some helpful benefits.
What muscles do weighted Russian twists work?
While there are some exceptions, most weighted Russian twists will mainly work your obliques and abs more.
The more you keep the resistance away from you, the more you will focus on the obliques compared to the abs.
Additionally, if you hold something like a dumbbell in your arms, you will generally work your front deltoids (shoulders), biceps, and forearm grip muscles to a small extent.
Do weighted Russian twists make you wider?
A wider look is generally achieved by growing upper back muscles like your latissimus dorsi. Since weighted Russian twists do not really work these muscles, they will generally not make you wider.
One thing you can say is that Russian twists with weights potentially make your oblique core muscles slightly wider. However, this will only be to a tiny extent and likely not really noticeable.