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The core is called many names—abs, six-pack, mid-section—but whatever you call it, it’s your body’s center of power. Although some people downplay or overhype the importance of the core, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. No matter where you stand, strengthening your core is essential, IMO.

One of the primary functions of the core is to resist movement (anti-extension, lateral flexion, and rotation), and one of the best and most neglected exercises to do this is the ab roller. This ab exercise trains anti-extension, strengthening your body in the lengthened position for improved overall strength. 

The regular ab wheel rollout exercise is an excellent full-body workout, but here are six more ab roller workouts for your ab pleasure. You can thank me later. Or not. 

Man using REP Fitness ab roller

How to Use an Ab Roller Wheel 

  1. Get on your knees and grip the ab roller by the handles on either side.
  2. Roll the ab wheel forward, keeping your arms straight as you round your upper back and tuck your hips under to straighten your spine.
  3. Lower your hips and chest toward the ground while contracting your abs to keep your spine neutral. Try not to let your lower back arch too much.
  4. The more you roll out, the harder the move will be, so keep your range of motion within what you can control.  
  5. Squeeze your lats and pull yourself back to the starting position.
  6. Reset and repeat.
Kneeling Ab Rollout

Ab Roller Form Tips

Although it looks simple—you roll out and back—there are certain things to watch out for in order to get the best out of these seven ab wheel exercises.

Head Down In Neutral Position 

Keeping a neutral spine is the most significant factor with any ab roller workout, starting with the correct head position. Having your chin tucked to your chest and keeping your neck neutral goes a long way in keeping a neutral spine. 

Avoid Over Arching Your Lower Back 

This exercise aims to prevent lower back extension, and when your hips drop to the ground, your lower back goes into extension. Keeping your glutes engaged the entire time and staying in a range of motion you can control will help prevent this.

Keep Your Elbows Straight

When you bend your elbows (some do it without realizing it), it shifts the focus to the triceps and takes it off the abs. It also makes the ab rollout easier. Ensure your elbows stay locked throughout the entire exercise to take the upper body out of it.  

Take Your Time 

The ab rollout/wheel out is not an exercise you hurry to set up or perform. Setting up in the position described above, engaging your glutes to keep a neutral spine, and getting your upper back set will ensure proper form. 

RELATED: Best Resistance Band for Glutes

7 Effective Ab Roller Exercises 

Ohh, this certified personal trainer has a treat for you. Here are seven ab roller exercises to take your core strength and endurance to the next level. You may never do a sit-up or crunch again. 

1. Ab Wheel Plank

Why Do It: When you can hold the front plank for over a minute and you’re looking to take your core strength to the next level, this is a great way to do that. The additional stability challenge makes this harder than it seems! 

How to Do It:

  1. Grab the ab roller on both sides with your knees on the ground.
  2. Step your feet back and push up into a front plank position.
  3. Ensure your body is in a straight line from head to heel.
  4. Engage your anterior core and hold for time.
Ab Wheel Plank

2. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout

Why Do It: It’s a more challenging move for when you master the ab wheel plank that will improve your anti-extension core strength. 

How to Do It:

  1. Get on your hands and knees and grip the ab wheel on both sides with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. 
  2. Roll the ab wheel forward, keeping your arms straight as you round your upper back and tuck your hips under to straighten your spine.
  3. Lower your hips and chest toward the ground while contracting your abs to keep your spine neutral. Try not to let your lower back arch too much.
  4. Squeeze your lats and pull yourself back to the starting position. Reset and repeat.
Kneeling Ab Rollout

3. Wide-Stance Standing Ab Wheel Rollout

Why Do It: When you need a progression from the kneeling rollout and are looking to improve your core strength and endurance further.

How to Do It:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet wider than hip-width apart with the ab roller in front of your feet. 
  2. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees if necessary to grip the ab roller with both hands.
  3. Ensuring your lower back is neutral and your elbows are straight, roll forward until your arms are over your head. Stop when you have reached your desired range of motion. 
  4. Roll back to your feet and reset and repeat for the reps.
Wide Leg Rollout

4. Narrow-Stance Standing Ab Wheel Rollout

Why Do It: Similar to the wide-stance rollout, the narrow-stance rollout challenges your anterior core strength further due to the narrow support base.

How to Do It:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet together (or less than hip-width apart) with the ab roller in front of your feet. 
  2. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees if necessary to grip the ab roller with both hands.
  3. Ensuring your lower back is neutral and your elbows are straight, roll forward until your arms are over your head. Stop when you have reached your desired range of motion. 
  4. Roll back to your feet and reset and repeat for the reps.
Narrow Stance Rollout

5. V-Rollouts 

Why Do It: Rolling laterally instead of straight out and back challenges your anti-rotation strength and improves the look of your obliques.

How to Do It:

  1. Set up as you would for your kneeling ab wheel rollout.Keeping your elbows straight, roll out slowly to your left at about a 45-degree angle.Slowly return to the starting position and reset and repeat, rolling to the right this time. Keep alternating sides for even repetitions. 

V Rollouts

6. Single-Arm Rollout

Why Do It: Because there is something seriously wrong with you? With your entire body weight supported by one arm, your body works overtime to keep you balanced. 

How to Do It:

  1. Start with your knees on the ground with the ab roller in front of you.
  2. Grip with one hand and set the upper back and hips so your spine is neutral. 
  3. Roll forward slowly, avoiding rotating to one side or the other.
  4. Once you have reached your desired ROM, return to the starting position.
  5. Reset and repeat for reps, then repeat with the opposite hand.
One Arm Rollout

7. Knee Tucks with Ab Roller

Why Do It: This variation has your feet on the ab roller, with the knee-tuck movement further strengthening the obliques, hip flexors, and core stabilizer muscles. 

How to Do It:

  1. Secure both feet on the ab roller and get into your push-up plank position.
  2. Ensure your hands are underneath your shoulders and your back is neutral from head to heel.  
  3. Perform a knee tuck, bringing both knees toward your chest.
  4. Return to the push-up plank position and reset and repeat. 
Knee Tuck Using Ab Roller

Which Ab Roller Should I Use?

Note: If you can’t access this piece of equipment, a barbell loaded with plates also works fine. 

The basic ab roller comprises two wheels and a padded handle on either side to grip and goes for less than $10. This is your best bet if you’re a beginner and just starting this exercise. But there are upgrades if you’re an intermediate or advanced exerciser with a little extra cash and looking to step things up. Check out our roundup of the Best Ab Rollers to get more ideas of the right one for you.

Benefits of Ab Roller Workouts 

Ab roller workouts are the real deal and are way better than crunches, though it may feel like your abs are tearing in two while performing these ab workouts. 

Better Big 3

Most lower body exercises, especially barbell squats and deadlifts, require keeping your spine in neutral and your body in proper alignment for better technique and reduced injury risk. These ab roller workouts will help make this happen.

Improved Abdominal Muscles

You will be challenged during the eccentric and concentric contractions when you perform these ab wheel workouts. What does this mean for you? Potentially better muscle development of the core muscles such as the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominals. The control and stability necessary to perform ab rollout workouts give you increased time under tension for better ab hypertrophy and strength.  

RELATED: Core Exercises Equipment

Better Strength

Have you ever heard the phrase “you’re only as strong as your weakest link?” You put your spine under tremendous pressure and stress when performing barbell and dumbbell exercises. If you’re struggling to keep a neutral spine under a heavy load, improving your ab anti-extension strength with the ab rollout is a great start. 

Improved Posture

Many factors make good static and dynamic posture possible. One of them is good core strength and endurance. Strengthening your core and the muscles surrounding your spine helps improve posture, reduces back pain, and makes you more aware of your posture during activities of daily living. 

Ab Roller Workout: Final Thoughts 

When the ab roller workouts are done right, this is one of those core workouts you will feel immediately. Training your abs through an extensive range of motion will improve:

  • Ab strength
  • Lifting technique 
  • Dynamic and static posture 

And if you have low body fat, it will help make your six-pack pop. All this and your lower back will thank you for improved strength and endurance. Ab roller workouts are challenging, but the benefits make it worth it. 

Ab Roller Workouts: Q&A

Does the ab roller really work?

Why don’t you try it and find out? Yes, using the ab roller correctly and with good form will improve your anti-extension strength and protect the lower back from injury. But it’s not easy!

Can you get a six-pack by using an ab roller?

Ahh, the much-desired six-pack. Using an ab roller can bring out the definition in your abs, but only if you have sub-10% body fat. First, focus on diet and then use the ab roller to bring out the muscular definition in your abs.

Do ab rollers burn belly fat?

Working on the core with the ab roller will only burn minimal body fat. Your best bet is to be in a caloric deficit and strengthen the body with compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows.

How many ab roller workouts can I do per day?

Ab roller workouts can create a lot of soreness due to the sizable eccentric contraction. It is best to let soreness be your guide regarding how often you perform ab roller workouts.

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