Enough is not said about the versatility of your ab roller workout nowadays. We are gradually moving away from the basic routines like multiple rounds of sit-ups and planks to relying on helpful workout tools for our core workouts. From kettlebells to dumbbells, medicine balls, and swiss balls, more and more of these tools are now available to help get results faster and easier.
In this post, we will be discussing one of such tools – the ab wheel.
What is an ab wheel?
Yes, we often neglect the ab wheel, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the longest-serving ab-training tools we have ever seen. Do you wonder the reason for such longevity? It offers something you cannot get from the other core workout gadgets in the ab roller workout. With your ab wheel, you can easily train your entire core abs simultaneously. Imagine putting your obliques, lower back muscles, gluten, and abs to work at a go. The benefits from your ab roller exercises are amazing!
But there is something else that the ab wheel does, and that is the anti-extension training. Before we explain that, let’s understand what your core does. As a unit, your core oversees a couple of crucial actions, such as rotating your torso, resisting rotation (anti-rotation), for instance, during Pallof holds, as well as bracing and flexing your spine. Then, we have the “anti-extension,” a position that ensures you do not over-arch your back.
Weighted hollow holds and plank walkouts are some of the ways you can train your anti-extension. But there is something about using an ab wheel to train your anti-extension. This simple tool allows you to approach the anti-extension training in other ways. You can either buy one from the stores or create one by yourself at home. For the latter, you will need a barbell with rounded plates to serve as the wheels. You can even use a towel or sliders on a very smooth floor.
Getting to do the ab wheel rollout correctly is not a walk in the park. But if you are committed to working through a proper progression for the rollout and using your ab roller correctly, it will help build your critical core strength without harming your back.
Ab Wheel Workout Progression
When you first start your ab wheel workout, avoid the mistake of trying to roll out as far as possible. It will only set you up for lower back pain. Instead, try to feel your abs battling lower back extension. Once this is in place, proceed to the full ab wheel rollout. It is the only way to avoid overstressing your spine.
So, instead of that, go for an incline bench progression for starters. Follow the steps below:
- Start your rollout practice with your bench set to a 30-degree incline.
- Go into a strong standing plank position. Engage your abs and glutes while holding the ab wheel on the bench’s seat.
- With your arms stretched out straight, roll out the wheel up the bench slowly. Do this 5x, without leaving that solid plank position as it moves upward.
- Retain a soft bend in your elbows. Do not go farther than expected.
- You may avoid straightening your arms entirely if you have shoulder issues. If not, you can worry less about having shoulder pains from the ab wheel rollout.
- Your focus throughout should be tightening your core and maintaining that slightly-rounded position.
- The abs tightening should be increased as you extend how far you move your arms forward.
You can efficiently train your abs for “anti-extension” during your ab roller exercises by following these steps.
Once you are comfortable enough with the ab wheel rollout progression, move on to the kneeling rollouts – another key ab roller workout. Here are the steps involved in training kneeling rollouts:
- Lower your bench back to its standard position.
- Now, you are ready for the floor.
- Get a pad or yoga mat to protect your knees while kneeling.
- While on the floor, focus on maintaining your strong position during the rollout.
- Certain forces would want to hyper-extend your lower back or make your hips slouch forward. These are the forces you must fight.
- Ensure active and aggressive contractions of your abs.
- Roll the easy way – you only need to control your lower back position while at it.
- Repeat the same movement while keeping the focus on rolling out slowly and mindfully.
- While at it, squeeze your core – this will pull the wheel back toward yourself.
NB – You should only consider the third and final progression – the standing rollout – when you have built up the strength from the kneeling rollouts.
When it comes to ab roller exercises, it is essential to work at your own pace. Do not fall into the temptation of upping your speed as others are doing. They are not only doing it wrong but will also most likely not get quick results. Instead, stick to your slow, intentional moments for the best results.