The Ab Wheel for Beginners

exercising
A man is using an ab roller. (Image: simon masters/iStock/Getty Images)

Improving your abdominal muscles has benefits beyond creating a sexy beach body. Abdominal strength helps prevent lower back pain and improves sports performance. An ab wheel is an inexpensive piece of equipment that’s easy to use for effective core workouts. Start slowly with an ab wheel as you build your core muscles.

Ab Wheels

Ab wheels are simple pieces of exercise equipment that look like a wheel with a pole stuck through the center. Although you can build one yourself, it might be better to buy an inexpensive wheel to make sure it rolls smoothly, doesn’t shift and is less likely to break. An ab wheel needs to withstand your body’s entire weight to roll forward and backward smoothly. Without the right center, the wheel might press against a homemade handle, making the wheel difficult or impossible to turn. The handles should not hurt your hands.

Starting Out

When you first use an ab wheel, start from a kneeling position to learn technique and experience how much stress the exercises place on your abs, back and arms. Place the wheel in front of you, under your chest in a spot where you feel balanced. Move yourself forward, letting the wheel roll you forward as your arms and torso straighten. Use your core to push you forward and roll you back. Don’t roll forward so that your arms are completely straight, or it may be too difficult to roll yourself back. Experiment with different forward roll lengths to see which one lets you roll yourself backward using your abs. Roll slowly, stop, then roll backward. Repeat this series 10 times, then take a break.

Building Muscle

As you are able to do this roll with more ease, begin rolling farther forward. This requires more muscular effort and helps increase your muscle size. When you are able to do longer rolls without failing, try rolling from the plank position, with your knees off the ground and toes supporting you, similar to a push-up position. When you first move to the plank position, start with shorter forward rolls, adding length as you build muscle. Keep your back in a straight line, rather than sticking your buttocks upward, to avoid back strain.

The Next Level

When you are able to perform multiple, long forward rolls from the plank position, add oblique turns. Instead of rolling straight forward and back, start rolling forward, then turn to the left and finish the roll in that direction. Roll back, then roll forward to the right. This works the obliques, located on the sides of your stomach area. When you have built enough muscle strength that your ab rolls are easy to do, start from a standing position to perform your exercises.

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