One of the most effective exercise devices around for developing a solid, toned and strong midsection is the appropriately named ab wheel. Literally a wheel for working your abs, this traditional exercise tool has been around for many years and for one simple reason – it works!
Ab wheels make your abdominals work isometrically which simply means they work hard statically to keep your spine in good alignment rather than to cause your spine to move. This type of action is exactly how your abs work in nature. When you squat down to pick a heavy bag up off the floor, your abs hold your spine in position so that your legs and arms can effectively work together to lift the load. If your abs collapsed so too would your spine and this would be like trying to lift a heavy load with an elastic band; you’d waste a whole lot of energy and also risk injury. As your abs work isometrically to support your spine, it makes perfect sense that you should exercise your abs in a similar way.
So, how do you use an ab wheel? Good question!
Kneel down and place your ab wheel on the floor in front of your knees. Hold the handles firmly and straighten your arms. Lift your chest. tense your arms, shoulders, abs and legs. Inhale and roll the wheel away from you while keeping your arms perfectly straight. Remember to keep the rest of your body tight! As the roller gets further away from your knees, you will feel the tension increasing in your abs. Do not let your lower back hyperextend or become over-arched. Once you have reached your personal limit of movement, roll the wheel back to your knees, exhaling as you do so. Do another couple of reps and then call it a day.
As with any type of exercise, doing too much too soon can leave you feeling tired and sore. Ab wheel roll outs are a super effective ab exercise so to avoid unnecessarily sore muscles, ease into your workouts by only doing a few repetitions per day. Build up gradually and not only will you minimize your risk of soreness, you will see your abdominal strength increase from one workout to the next.
Over the coming weeks and months, make your workout more demanding by increasing your range of movement and lowering your chest closer to the floor, doing more repetitions or sets of repetitions, adding pauses with your arms extended and, eventually, doing your roll outs from the standing position. Who knows but, with practice and perseverance, you may eventually be able to do sets of ten roll outs while wearing a weighted vest, down a slight hill and from the standing position – now that’s real ab strength!
Ab rollers are small, light, cheap, portable and effective; this makes them ideal for home and gym use. They may have been around for a long time and be considered to be “old school” but that’s because, unlike many other exercise devices, they actually work.