What makes the ab wheel so effective is its ability to engage our entire core, including what are referred to as our “stabilizer” muscles. Stabilizer muscles act as the support system for our skeleton, aiding us in maintaining balance and correct posture.
In truth, our core includes layers of stabilizer muscles beneath our abdominal. These run around our entire torso, including along our sides and lower back.
Below I’ve listed some of the best ab wheel exercises to get your core in tight shape. But first, let’s make sure we’ve mastered basic ab wheel form.
Because using the ab wheel can be challenging, here are some key safety points to keep in mind when doing the exercises. You can tell if this is happening if you begin to feel a slight pinching in your lower back.
• Keep your head down in neutral position with your chin slightly tucked during the roll. This is because it takes time to build a solid core foundation capable of supporting our full body weight when we do a roll-out.
If you feel your form slipping at any time during roll-outs (such as arching your back), lower the intensity by dropping to your knees. Let’s get started with some ab roller exercises that will tighten your core like no other.
We’ll begin with the most basic moves, progressing to advanced variations. Grasp the handles of the roller with both hands, one on each side of the wheel, palms facing down.
Push your torso up into a plank position with your body in a single straight line from head to heels. Try to roll out as far as possible here without arching your back, ideally lowering your torso to just above the ground.
Engage your abs and slowly roll forward until your belly is just above the floor, keeping your arms extended in front of you. Wide-Stance Front Roll-Out The wide stance roll-out is slightly easier than performing the full roll-out with your feet together.
Begin standing with your feet wider than hip-width apart, wheel on the floor in front of you. Roll the wheel back toward your feet, bending again at the waist to return to your starting position.
Roll the wheel back toward your feet, bending again at the waist to return to your starting position. Return to your starting position, then roll slowly at an angle to your left.
This is excellent for engaging the lower abdominal and stabilizer muscles in the obliques, arms, and shoulders. Now roll in the wheel by bringing both knees toward your chest, keeping your upper body and back in place.
Engage your core and slowly roll the wheel in toward your upper body. Keep your upper body and back in a straight line at all times.
Here your rolling arm is challenged with supporting your full body weight, while your stabilizer muscles work overtime to keep you upright. Begin standing (or kneeling, if you’re practicing on your knees) with your roller on the ground in front of you.
Begin to roll out slowly, really focusing on engaging your core, so you don’t tip over to one side. The bridge hold works the stabilizer muscles throughout the core and lower body, as well as the glutes.
Squeeze your glutes and raise them as high as you can, keeping your abs braced the entire time. Beginners should start by practicing the bridge on the floor if holding the roller in place is too difficult.
One-Leg Roll-Out The one-leg roll-out is another challenging variation of the front roll-out, requiring significant stabilizer muscle strength. Keeping your back straight and arms extended, begin to roll forward.
Roll the wheel back toward your feet (remaining on one leg), bending again at the waist to return to your starting position. Now that you’ve been introduced to some of the most killer ab exercises ever, lets take a look at how we can integrate them into a fat-burning interval circuit.
This circuit combines ab roller exercises into an interval-style workout, which is great for burning off the fat covering our ripped core. Make sure to maintain proper form and avoid arching your back at all times.
Advanced: Try to lower yourself as close to the ground as possible (aka, brushing it with the tip of your nose). You’ll definitely want my FREE Abs Secret download, which outlines 7 smarter ways to a flat, lean belly.
We’ve put together a shopping guide with the details and features you need to consider making an informed decision. If you’re looking at a model with a wheel circumference in the double digits, measure your storage space to be sure it will fit.
It didn’t take long for ab enthusiasts to realize that while one wheel is effective, it’s not the stablest design. Ab wheels made almost entirely of plastic are lightweight, inexpensive, and provide an adequate workout.
However, plastic wheels don’t offer the grip necessary for use on smooth floors unless they have a rubber coating. Springs made of stainless or carbon steel provide impressive resistance and have excellent durability.
Of course, they also add to the price, but if you’ll be using the ab wheel regularly, it’s probably worth a few extra dollars. Tread improves the grip of the wheel, so you can roll out whether you’re on a smooth surface or carpet.
Some models don’t have tread but rely on the natural grip of their rubber wheels. Tread and/or rubber are both adequate ways to keep an ab wheel stable.
Handles with a rubber or foam coating are easier to grip, especially as your hands start to get sweaty. Some ab wheels provide internal resistance to increase the workout intensity.
Weighted jump rope: Ab wheels often come as part of a full body exercise kit that also includes a weighted jump rope for aerobic exercise. But don’t fret if the model you want doesn’t have either of these extras as there are plenty of instructional videos and guides online.
In the $15 to $30 price range are single- and double-wheeled models with rubber tread and ergonomic handles with finger grips. These ab wheels may also be part of a kit that could include resistance bands and a knee pad.
Wheels are larger in this category, with innerspring resistance technology being far more common. These models are also more likely to be part of a full exercise kit that includes a jump rope, push-up bars, and resistance bands.
Don’t be surprised if you need to do some lower back strengthening exercises before you can fully use the ab wheel. Try to keep your workout area clean and occasionally wipe down the ab wheel to prevent a slippery film of dust from forming.
If used improperly, an ab wheel can strain the muscles and ligaments in the lower back. Pay attention to how your body feels and don’t extend beyond the strength of your lower back.
It’s best to start with small movements until you become accustomed to how the ab wheel feels and works. Extend your reach by a few inches each day, and with time your strength and balance will grow.
They can be used to target the obliques, hip flexors, quads, and glutes, especially when using models with foot pedals. The shoulders, upper back, and arms also get a workout as you balance over the wheel.
There are workout guides and YouTube videos online to help you discover the many ways you can fully utilize an ab wheel.