The Calories Burned By Doing a Torso Twist

Young woman in half spinal twist pose on mat

The torso twist is a strength-training exercise designed to tone the ab and core muscles. Like sit-ups and other natural resistance exercises, torso twists are generally not effective for burning large amounts of calories on their own. For best results, combine your torso twist exercise with a circuit of other strength-training exercises, such as push-ups, as well as aerobic exercise like jogging.


The Sports Illustrated website recommends beginning a torso twist by standing with your feet apart and your arms slightly bent at shoulder level. Swing your arms as far around as possible while maintaining a firm posture with your legs and thighs. After completing ten twists, bend forward at a 45-degree angle from your waist and perform ten more twists. When the standing version of the torso twist becomes too easy, try performing the same motions while sitting with your spine leaning back at a 45-degree angle.

Calories Burned

Since torso twists are designed to strengthen your core muscles, it is often too difficult to perform multiple sets for a prolonged period of time. Unlike jogging, swimming and other aerobic exercises, torso twists elevate your heart rate in brief spurts as you perform repetitions -- not for steady lengths of time. As a result, the amount of calories you burn, depends on your body weight, age and physical fitness. If you only perform one set of 10 repetitions, it is unlikely that you will raise your heart rate enough to burn even an additional 50 calories.

However, if you combine your torso twist with other exercises to form an aerobic sequence, you may 295 to 431 calories per hour, which is the amount the State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services estimates for low-impact aerobics.

How It Works

To burn a pound of fat, you need a deficit of 3,500 calories. In other words, you need to burn more calories with exercise or consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight to create a calorie deficit. If you want to burn fat at a rate of one pound a week, you will need to average a daily calorie deficit of 500. By combining torso twists with other natural-resistance exercises -- such as sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups -- you can create an exercise routine that sustains an elevated heart rate for a half-hour or more, helping you reach a calorie deficit.

Safety Concerns

While generally considered safe, torso twists may cause pain for individuals with back problems. Talk to your doctor before engaging in torso twists and other strength training exercises to make sure you are healthy enough for regular exercise. Always stretch and warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes before engaging in a torso twist exercise.