A lot of people know that I’m not a fan of fancy training equipment – that’s part of why I love bodyweight exercises!
The ab wheel, however, is one of the few calisthenics accessories that I deem worthwhile. It’s a very simple, portable piece of equipment that can help facilitate a fantastic full-body workout.
That’s right, the “ab wheel” actually works much more than just your abs. The exercises below will challenge your arms, shoulders, chest, back, glutes and even your legs, as well as your midsection.
Here are my top 5 ab wheel exercises, listed in order from least to most difficult:
Ab Wheel Plank
If you’ve never used an ab wheel before, this is probably where you should start. Get into a standard push-up position, only with your hands gripping the handles of the ab wheel instead of being placed on the floor. You may be surprised at first by how much the instability of the wheel increases the difficulty of the plank. (If you aren’t able to hold an ab wheel plank yet, you can modify the exercise by placing your knees on the ground instead of your toes.)
Walking Ab Wheel Plank
Once you get a feel for holding a plank on an ab wheel, you can experiment with moving in that position. Take small steps and grip the handles tightly to avoid tipping over. Maintain a straight back the whole time, keeping your hips in line with your shoulders and legs.
Kneeling Ab Wheel Roll-out
There are essentially two types of ab exercises: The first finds the abs performing some kind of trunk flexion. Crunches, sit-ups, and knee tucks are all examples of this type of ab exercise. The second type are exercises in which the abs are used primarily in a stability/anti-extension role. These include planks, hollow body holds, and front levers.
The classic ab-wheel roll-out gives you the best of both: It involves flexing and extending the trunk (like the exercises in the first category), but the most intense part of the movement happens when your body is extended horizontally, with the abs working in an anti-extension capacity (like the exercises in the second category).
Begin in a kneeling position with the ab wheel beneath your chest, then roll the wheel away from your body as you pivot from your knees, bringing your hips and torso down toward the ground. Avoid arching your back or piking your hips in the air. The lower you go, the harder the move becomes, so feel free to start with a partial range of motion at first. Eventually the plan should be to reach your arms completely overhead with your body hovering about an inch above the ground.
Reverse Ab Wheel Roll-out
For this variation you will once again begin in a plank position, except with your feet on the handles of your ab wheel instead of your hands. From there, carefully tuck your knees toward your chest, then extend your legs back into a plank position. Go slowly in order to avoid toppling over.
Standing Ab Wheel Roll-out
This is the granddaddy of all ab wheel roll-outs! Extending the range of motion by raising up onto your toes significantly increases the difficulty of an already tough exercise. As with the kneeling version, avoid arching your back or piking your hips in the air when performing this exercise. In fact, it is not uncommon for the lower back to fatigue before the abs when performing ab-wheel roll-outs, so be mindful of your lumbar region when performing this exercise.
The full standing ab-wheel roll-out may very well be the single best exercise for developing your midsection, but you’re going to have to work your way up to it gradually.
Watch the video below for more:
If you would like to get an ab wheel like the one I’m using in the video, check out Fitwood. They are currently offering a ten percent discount to my followers! Simply use the code AL10 at checkout to receive the discount.