Weekly Workout: The Ab Roller Workout
Happy Monday, everyone. Today, we have another installment of our Weekly Workout series.
I’m often asked, “What’s the best ab exercise I can do?” Well, there are a ton of great and effective ab exercises, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be the ab wheel rollout.
Ab wheel exercises are great because there’s no flexing of the spine, like in a crunch. You’re extending the spine, activating your core, shoulders, and arms at the same time. You really get a lot of bang for your buck here!
So let’s get started.
Rock Your Core
The ab wheel is an incredible exercise tool because it offers a fantastic workout for your core. Your abdominal muscles are more than just window dressing. Sure, we all know about the social perks of having “6-pack abs” or a “washboard stomach”. But having a strong midsection offers so much more than a hot bod. There’s a reason it’s called your “core” after all!
Improving your core means improving your overall quality of life. A strong midsection can help eliminate lower back pain, improve your golf and tennis swing, help you maintain good posture, improve your overall balance and stability, and so much more. Regular everyday acts like putting on your shoes, turning to look behind you, or even sitting in a chair all become easier with a good core.
Even if you are already extremely fit, working and improving on your midsection can help you lift larger and heavier weights.
Your core consists of all the muscles in your midsection, from the abdominals in the front, all the way around the sides to your obliques and lower lat muscles in your back. These muscles help stabilize your entire body. And when there’s a weakness in your core, it reduces the efficiency of your entire body and can lead to lower back pain.
This is why it is so important to not skip over your ab and other core exercises. The good news is that often it’s small and simple exercises, when done with proper form, that offer the biggest results.
That’s where the ab wheel comes in.
If you’ve spent any time at a gym, you’ve probably seen someone rolling away with the ab wheel. And it looks so easy! But I’m here to tell you that the ab wheel isn’t so simple. Good form is imperative. Without good form, not only will you not get the benefits you’re looking for, but you risk injury as well.
Ab Wheel Rollout: The Basics
Ab wheel exercises seem like they should be simple and straightforward, and maybe even slightly gimmicky. The ab wheels themselves are small and cheap. You might even have one in the back of your closet somewhere. And there’s probably a good reason why it’s in the back of the closet: ab rollouts are difficult to do. The good news is that there are some steps you can take to ease yourself into it on your quest to do the perfect ab rollout.
But first, let’s go over how to use an ab roller the right way.
When you hold the ab roller in front of you on the ground, you want your back to be rounded. Keeping a flat back, like in a pushup or plank, will hurt your spine. I always tell my clients that their upper back should be like an angry cat. Then, be a “sad dog” and tuck your tail under. This puts your spine in the right position.
Tighten your glutes, then slowly roll the wheel out, then pull it back in. When you’re rolling your ab roller out, don’t push it out as far as you can. Those extra inches don’t provide enough benefit to undo the back strain that you’re causing. The video above will give you a good idea of how far out you should be rolling.
When you first set out to learn how to use an ab wheel, you might be surprised to find out how challenging an ab roller workout can actually be. The traditional ab wheel rollout is a very difficult move and I wouldn’t advise starting out with it if you’re new to the ab roller. Luckily, there are a couple of modifications you can make to this move to prep your body for a more strenuous workout.
Start out with a stability ball, placing your hands on it the same way you would on an ab wheel. Again, check your back position to make sure you’re not too straight. Then, carefully start pushing the ball away from you by rolling your forearms over it.
If you can only go up to your wrists at first, that’s fine. Over time, you’ll be able to progress to a smaller ball, then a smaller one, finally ending up with the ab roller. Once that gets too easy (it is possible!) you can add a barbell with weights for some extra resistance.
Try It Out
By now you should have a good understanding of why it is so important to maintain a strong core. Not because of the 6-pack abs (although those are a nice benefit if you can get them)! No, working your core is critical to leading a healthy lifestyle. Everything you do, from playing sports to just standing still, all become easier when your body has a strong midsection to provide a base of stability.
And in your quest to improve your core, make sure to take advantage of some of the benefits of an ab wheel. Ab roller workouts are great because they work more than just the abs. They engage your arms, upper back, and glutes, while also improving your balance. Start out easy with a stability ball. Get a feel for the motion and build up your strength while you work up to the ab wheel gradually. It’s tough, but don’t give up! Definitely give this exercise a shot. Your body will thank you.
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