Does the Ab Wheel Work the Obliques?

Close up of a woman's abdominal muscles
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The ab wheel is a simple abdominal device; a wheel with a handle that extends through the center of the wheel. With the ab wheel, you can do the ab roll out exercise, which is an advanced abdominal movement. The ab wheel targets all your abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and the obliques.


Ab Wheel Exercise

To do the ab roll out exercise, kneel on a mat and place the ab wheel in front of your thighs. Grab the handles with an overhand grip. Inhale and push the ab wheel forward, lowering your torso toward the floor. Continue as far as you can without touching the floor with any part of your body. Keep your back straight and your arms fully extended. Exhale and pull the ab wheel back to the starting position. If you're picking up an ab wheel for the first time you can easily hurt yourself trying to extend all the way out and come back in again. If you extend too far too soon you could possibly cause shoulder and rotator cuff injury.


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Muscles Worked

The ab wheel roll out exercise targets your main and side abdominal muscles. The rectus abdominis, which is the most visible ab muscle, is the main mover but the obliques assist during the movement. Your lower back, upper back and arm muscles assist to stabilize your body. Engage your abs by pulling your belly button up to your spine. Maintain this posture throughout the movement. If you want to target your oblique muscles, adjust the path of the roll out exercise.


Oblique Variation

To target your oblique muscles, roll the ab wheel out on a diagonal path, instead of directly in front of you. Start in the same position as with the standard roll out, but turn the ab wheel at a 45 degree angle. As you roll out, your torso twists to accommodate the angle, which increases the involvement of your oblique muscles. Perform all the repetitions on one side and then set the ab wheel on the opposite side.



Whether you perform the standard ab wheel roll out or the side roll out, keep your back straight and your abs engaged throughout the movement. If you want more of a challenge, start the exercise on your feet, instead of your knees. This version of the roll out works the same muscles, but is more difficult because you have a much larger range of motion. You can do the standard or side roll out as an advanced exercise.




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