Using the Ab Wheel for a stronger core

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The ‘ab wheel’ has long been a staple for anyone looking to increase functional core strength and conditioning around the torso.

When using the Ab Wheel to conduct ab rollouts effectively, it will engage the entire core, including the stabilizer muscles that contribute to maintaining balance, exercise performance and proper posture. It can be one of the best training tools for strengthening the core as a single unit.

The core is much more than the visible rectus abdominis muscle, or the infamous 6-pack. It includes many other muscles, such as the transverse abdominals, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and both the internal and external oblique muscles that move, support and stabilise the spine.

Another muscle that is involved in movement through the core is the multifidus, a deep back muscle that runs along the spine. It works together with the transverse abdominals in an anti-extension capacity to increase strength and stability in the spine, and as a result protecting against injury or strain during movement or normal posture. 

Having a strong core creates an excellent foundation for all activities. Just about every movement is powered by the core. These muscles work in concert to support the spine whenever we squat, hinge, press, push, pull, carry load or rotate.

The ab rollout is an excellent anti-extension exercise that will challenge and develop the entire core.

Progression

The most common mistake people make when conducting ab wheel rollouts is that they focus too much on rolling out as far as possible when first getting started. This can lead to hyper-extending the lower back and in turn, causing pain or injury.

What is important here is keeping the core and glute muscles engaged throughout the movement in order to prevent the back from hyperextending and keeping your eyes on the wheel at all times to maintain proper spinal alignment.

The kneeling ab rollout

How to:

  • Start with both knees on the floor (approx. hip width apart), squeeze the glutes, round out the upper back and tuck the tail bone in with the ab wheel just in front of the body.
  • Tighten the core with arms fully extended and slowly roll the wheel forward, keeping your view on the wheel until your body is parallel to the ground.

  • Keeping the core tight, without your back arching, roll yourself back by contracting the abdominals to the starting position and repeat.

How many:

  • Beginners: 5-8 repetitions

  • Advanced: 10-15 repetitions

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