This afternoon I came across this amongst a pile of near-vintage gym gear: an ab wheel. Unlike a lot of fitness equipment for the abs, this one has survived – because it’s simple and it works. In fact it’s so simple that any sort of rotating bar and a round plate can be used.
Although Ross Enamait makes them look easy (he does a few on the Low Tech, High Effect video [.wmv, 5.1mb] amongst others), the standing version is incredibly hard. In fact, starting with the kneeling version was more than enough to feel it working.
Ab rollout (often called a ‘barbell rollout’)
- Grab an ab wheel, or a barbell with 10kg (25lb) plates on, or a couple of adjustable dumbbells with the 10/25 plates.
- Begin in a kneeling position, with straight arms holding the handles/bar on the ground in front of you.
- Slowly roll it forward until your torso is as close to parallel with the floor as possible.
- Initiating the movement with your hips (and keeping arms straight throughout), use your abs to bend back to the starting point. Bring the wheel/bell as close to your feet as possible, and keep your hips high.
Beginning from a standing start will obviously make the exercise a lot more difficult than the kneeling version. To adjust the intensity between these two stages, try using various inclines (a piece of wood and a staircase are your friends here); and on different surfaces (carpet vs concrete for example).
To make the entire movement more difficult, use only one arm; or attach a light band to make it that much more interesting.
This exercise places quite a lot of stress on the lower back and shoulders (if arms are near horizontal at end of movement). These certainly aren’t reasons to avoid it, simply points to be aware of.