You don’t need Russian twists to develop your core — try these five moves instead

Two women performing an ab workout on exercise mats with right leg on the air and opposite arm tapping the foot
(Image credit: Getty images/ Westend61)

Forget Russian twists: This five-move core workout targets your major core muscles in under 10 minutes to develop stronger abs. If you need a quick ab workout to add to your exercise regime, this one is short and effective and compliments an upper-body or lower-body program — you only need an exercise mat and your body weight to get it done. 

Each exercise works your oblique muscles, which extend down your waist from your ribs to your pelvis, and assist with side bending, rotation, and supporting your diaphragm so that you can breathe properly. That’s why this core torching workout by The Pilates Class is called "toned waist // 5 moves to feel the burn" and continues to pull in likes on Instagram. 

Just remember: To develop a toned waist and a more defined midsection, factors like stress management, sleep quality, genetics, diet, and regular exercise all play a pivotal role in body fat composition.  

Your core muscles are crucial for good posture, protecting your lower back from injury, and supporting your body as it moves. Although your core works hard during compound exercises like squats, targeted ab workouts help develop and strengthen the muscles in your torso and can improve your ability to perform other exercises like deadlifts

This workout is suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers. Check the five moves in the video below to assess if your form is correct. Ask a personal trainer or medical professional if you’re unsure, new to exercise, or returning from injury.

Forget Russian twists — watch this ‘toned waist // 5 moves to feel the burn’ workout

The exercises are:

Scissor add-on reverse sit-up 

Leg extension side oblique bend

Tabletop sit-up add-on one-leg extension

Plank spider climbers

Tabletop sit-up to add-on one-leg extension

The best ab exercises work your body through various directions — known as planes of motion. Performing these exercises regularly will help you build functional strength and muscle, improve stability and power, and strengthen muscles you might be neglecting.

This workout focuses on gentle twisting and crunches found in the transverse and sagittal planes of motion, which are kinder to the lower back than unsupported exercises like Russian twists, but if you suffer from a lower back injury, start slow and build or ask a personal trainer first. 

Unlike isolation exercises that work one muscle group, your shoulders and legs engage during some of the moves, and your hip flexors will switch on to assist in pulling your leg toward your chest. The workout adopts several techniques from Barre and Pilates to stabilize and strengthen core muscles, including the obliques and your six-pack muscles — the rectus abdominis. 

You’ll complete three rounds of these five core exercises for 30 seconds per exercise. The instructor reminds you to ‘remember your Pilates principles’ — to anyone unfamiliar with Pilates, that means breath, concentration, control, precision, center, and flow. 

Try to pull your stomach muscles towards your spine and breathe into your diaphragm rather than your chest. Lift and lengthen your spine to keep your posture tall, and brace your stomach as though someone is about to hit your stomach; this will help you engage your core muscles rather than dip into your lower back. 

You could wrap one of the best resistance bands for home workouts above your knees or ankles to increase the intensity of some exercises, but as long as you’re squeezing your muscles as you lift, crunch, and twist your torso, 30 seconds shout be enough to whip up a core torching. 

Although this workout is unlikely to burn calories fast, you could add a Hyrox workout or a fiery 300-rep bodyweight workout to increase your heart rate and test your endurance. I also recommend increasing the number of rounds or working for 45 to 60 seconds rather than 30. 

Pilates exercises use small crunching or twisting moves repetitively for high reps or working sets, which fires up the muscle groups and works them toward fatigue. By controlling your movements, the smaller muscles will recruit to keep you stable as you move. This core workout is no exception, and while you might not feel it straight away, I guarantee the next morning will be interesting. 

If you enjoy Pilates workouts, here’s what an hour of Pilates can do for your body, and use this at-home Pilates workout with weights to strengthen your entire body. Find out what happened when I did ab wheel rollouts every day for a week, and this 15-minute ab kettlebell workout will torch your core if you don’t own a set of dumbbells. 

Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.