Seated barbell twist exercise

Seated barbell twist

Exercise details

  • Target muscles: Internal and External Obliques
  • Synergists: Psoas Major, Iliocastalis Thoracis, Iliocastalis Lumborum, Quadratus Lumborum
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Sit on a bench with a light barbell in front of your feet.
  2. Pick up the barbell using a wide overhand grip, raise it over your head, and place it on the back of your shoulders.


  1. Keeping your back straight, exhale as you twist your torso to one side until you feel a mild stretch in your waist.
  2. Inhale as you reverse the motion and twist your torso back to the starting position.
  3. Exhale as you slowly twist your torso to the opposite side.
  4. Inhale as you reverse the motion and twist your torso back to the starting position.
  5. Keep repeating and alternating the side to which you twist.

Comments and tips

  • Keep the movement slow and under full control. Do not allow momentum to build up because you can damage your spine.
  • Avoid using heavy weights because the momentum may become too difficult to control. Even an Olympic bar might be too heavy for this exercise. Many people just use a broomstick.
  • While you don’t have to stop midway between each twist—most people don’t—you should at least slow down. This not only reduces the amount of momentum that can build up but also makes your obliques work harder.
  • As explained in Guidelines and principles of weight training, your body’s ability to twist is one of its seven primal movement patterns, and all primal movement patterns should be strengthened. The seated barbell twist is one exercise you can use to strengthen the twisting primal movement pattern of your body.
  • Do not perform the barbell twist while standing because some of the twisting motion will be lost in the rotation of the joints in your hips and legs.
  • Unlike what most people think, the seated barbell twist does not work your rectus abdominis because no flexion of your abdomen occurs.
  • Also known as the seated barbell oblique twist.

Seated barbell twist video

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