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Cherry Pickers: Ultimate Oblique Ab Exercise


In the world of core-building and belly fat-burning exercises, it’s no surprise why cherry pickers are so popular.

Cherry pickers, also known as Russian twists, are a dynamic, low-impact movement that targets the obliques (outer abs). 

Perfect for all fitness levels, this exercise will help improve sports performance, functional strength, posture, and aesthetics.

Cherry Pickers - How To

Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Maintain a straight back and use your core muscles to keep you upright.

If you're holding a weight, such as a dumbbell, medicine ball, or plate, keep it close to your chest.

Lift your feet. Tilt your body back and slightly lift your feet off the ground. This will stimulate your deep core muscles and enhance the difficulty of the workout.

Twist your torso and engage your core: Rotate your torso to the right, lowering your hands to the floor near your right hip. Maintain a tight core and straight back, and engage your outer abs in the twisting motion throughout the exercise.

Return to Center: No need to pause back at the starting position, the movement should be one ongoing fluid motion.

Twist to the Left: Now, twist your body to the left, putting your weight or hands to the floor near your left hip. Continue keeping your core engaged and your back straight.

Keep legs stable: As you twist, keep your legs as still as possible to activate your obliques.

Repeat: Alternate twisting from side to side in a controlled motion. Instead of jerking or slinging the weight, try to maintain a smooth, steady action. Eventually, you can pick up the speed and intensity of the twist.

Breathe: Keep a steady breath throughout the activity (choppy grunting will make the exercise more difficult). Your breath will depend on the speed of your twists but generally exhaling as you twist and inhaling on the way back in will be easiest for you.

After you've completed the proper number of repetitions, softly lower your feet to the ground and extend your core muscles.

Cherry pickers exercise


Weighted Cherry Pickers:

The cherry pickers exercise isn’t the most demanding core routine and can take a lot of reps to feel a burn. If that’s the case for you, try holding a medicine ball or plate to challenge yourself. 

Start somewhere between the 10-30lb range and slowly make your way up.


Benefits From Cherry Pickers Exercise:

Cherry pickers exercise mainly target the outer abs (obliques) but the full core is engaged throughout the movement.

Cherry pickers help build your obliques and spinal protector muscles such as the spinal erectors and quadratus lumborum


Cherry pickers are great for sports such as tennis, baseball, hockey, and golf that require a lot of twisting and rotational stability.

Cherry pickers are a great exercise if you're looking to get rid of lower back fat above buttocks.

Other benefits include: 

cherry pickers - obliques

Improved posture 

Better overall balance 


Injury prevention

Increased flexibility

Core endurance

Burns belly fat


Alternative Oblique Exercises

Oblique twist variations

Cross Leg Reverse Crunch

Side/Copenhagen Planks

Suitcase Carry

Bicycle Crunch 

Around the world abs

Oblique Crunch

Mountain Climbers


Cherry Pickers - FAQ

How many cherry pickers should I do?

If you're new to the cherry pickers exercise or you don't train abs much, begin with fewer repetitions, such as 8-20 each set. You can progressively increase the number of reps as you work the exercise into your routine more.

Cherry Pickers Exercise

That said, one of the beauties of cherry pickers is how low-risk of a movement it is. Cherry pickers are unlike deadlifts or bench presses where you could injure yourself if you push too hard for an extra rep. 

With cherry pickers, you can push your body's limits and shoot for as many reps as possible with minimal risk of injury. If you keep proper form and have good pace, the only concerning risks are overuse injury to a surrounding spinal muscle (such as the quadratus lumborum) or a potential ab cramp. 

Will cherry pickers burn belly fat?

Yes, cherry pickers can burn belly fat at your waistline. If burning belly fat is your intention behind the exercise, we recommend keeping your rep range high and avoiding holding a weight. Heavy weight combined with low reps will increase muscle mass, a popular fitness goal, but not ideal for burning belly fat ASAP.

What are the cherry pickers exercise?

Some refer to the cherry pickers exercise as a cardiovascular workout where you’re doing high knees while reaching up motioning picking a cherry from a tree. While that can be classified as a cherry picker exercise, the general cherry picker workout is a seated oblique targeting core exercise that involves twisting side to side as if you’re picking up cherries beside you. A more common name is the Russian twist.

Are crunches better than cherry pickers?

Crunches are a popular core exercise because of their convenience and simple movement. Are they better than cherry pickers? No. The crunch movement itself only targets the top/upper abs while cherry pickers target the top, side, and slightly lower all in one movement. Additionally, cherry pickers have the potential to burn belly fat at a much quicker pace.

Which muscles do cherry pickers target?

The cherry picker exercise typically targets the obliques, or muscles on the outsides of the core that enable the torso to twist.

Will cherry pickers help me improve in sports?

Cherry pickers can help develop rotational stability and overall core strength, both of which are useful in many sports and activities. Especially sports such as tennis, baseball, hockey, and golf that require a lot of torso rotation. Adding cherry pickers into your exercise routine can enhance other types of training, improve overall athletic performance, and prevent injuries.




[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019. 

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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