Work Your Core with an Abdominal Wheel

The more comprehensive your ab workout is, the better!
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Leg lifts, shrugs, planks, Russian twists… Abdominal training routines are increasingly versatile and functional. The same applies to accessories, notably the abdominal wheel or ab roller. This little sports accessory can help you in your goal of getting a six pack, as long as you use it properly, something that will also help you avoid any injuries.

Despite being such a small, simple object, you’ll find several different types. The most important thing is that you find one that gives you some stability, but at the same time unbalances you during the movement, so that it has the desired effect when training your abdominal stabilizers and obliques. It may sound more complicated than it is, but an abdominal wheel, in the end, is nothing more than a wheel crossed by a bar that you hold with your hands.

Some basic concepts

However, before you start to work those abs, remember a few basic concepts of training routines: more training won’t get better results. Abdominals, like any other muscle, grow with rest. This means that you shouldn’t train them more than 3 times a week, ensuring that there’s always 1 or 2 days of rest between one session and another. Also, change exercises, surprise your muscle and choose a routine that includes isometric plates, leg raises and other abdominal exercises that can complement the use of the abdominal wheel. The more comprehensive your ab workout, the better! In fact, you need to know that none of these exercises is better than the other. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Traininganalyzed 10 men and 13 women doing various abdominal exercises (including the abdominal wheel), concluding that their effectiveness is very similar.

The best thing about the abdominal wheel is that you can train your core comprehensively: abs, glutes, lower back and obliques. Of course, it’s only effective if used correctly. If you push with your arms instead of using your abs, or if you use momentum to rock forward, you’ll decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. This is an exercise that you should do little by little, without forcing yourself, and progressing little by little. The mistake many make when starting out on the ab wheel is overreaching. To avoid injury and lower back pain, especially at the beginning, lower yourself as far as you can without forcing yourself, and push yourself a little further each time until your chin touches the ground.

©Vasily Pindyurin

Go little by little…

Any tricks? There are a few. The first, for example, would be to use the ab wheel on a 30 degree incline bench. Standing next to the bench, with your glutes and abs engaged, slowly roll the wheel across the back of the bench for about 10 repetitions. Keep your back straight at all times. Once you start using the abdominal wheel directly on the floor, just do it little by little, without forcing yourself and using a mat under your knees to avoid hurting yourself. The idea is to go up and down as slowly as you can so that your core is activated.

Once you’ve controlled the movement, you can try to do the same movement but from a standing position, supporting yourself only with the balls of your feet and stretching your whole body. Only for the real experts!

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