Getting to know : The Ab Wheel

by Scott Bird on September 1, 2007

The Ab Wheel (sometimes called Ab Roller) is definitely in the class of ‘simple and effective’ abdominal exercise equipment. What’s more, it’s nice and compact – if you’ve got enough room in your house for a couple of loaves of bread, you’ll be able to accommodate an Ab Wheel. This one really will fit under the bed.

What is an Ab Wheel?

Ab Wheel aka Ab RollerThe Ab Wheel (pictured) is really little more than a stick poking through a wheel. This concept has been around for decades, and hasn’t changed much over the years. In fact, the one I use here is probably 30 years old.

How is it used?

This is where the fun begins. Regardless of your current state of fitness, there’s an abdominal exercise here for you to try.

Ab rollout, kneeling, inclined : kneel down in front of a gentle slope somewhere. It doesn’t have to be terribly long – a few feet will do. A handy way to do this is to lay one end a wooden plank on the bottom step of a staircase.

To increase the slope, simply lift it to a higher step.

Grab the ‘handles’ of the device (the axle itself), and lean forward; rolling the wheel up the slope. When you’re stretched all the way forward, squeeze your abs and pull yourself back to the starting point. Pause for a second, mutter a couple of appropriate words and do it again. Excellent.

If this is too challenging to begin with, simply use a steeper slope.

NB : when you reach the spot when the wheel is beneath your face, stretch your arms forward as if you’re superman. Keep going until your body is almost parallel to the ground.

Standing, inclined, using Ab Wheel. Photo via Jim Bathurst.Ab rollout, standing, inclined : once you can comfortably do the above version of the rollout (whether it takes you 3 minutes or 3 months), you’re ready to try the standing version. Instead of beginning from a kneeling position, begin standing; holding the device just in front of your feet.

Complete the exercise in exactly the same way.

NB : you’ll need a slightly longer ramp this time.

 

 

 

 

Kneeling, using Ab RollerAb rollout, kneeling, flat ground : once you consider the above versions easy, get rid of the slope and perform the exercise (from a kneeling start) on flat ground. Just make sure you have enough room to lie fully extended on the floor first.

Ab rollout, standing, flat ground : if the above versions are no longer a challenge, try performing the exercise from a standing start, on flat ground. You’ll definitely feel a difference.


Ab rollout, standing, flat ground, one hand : for this version you’ll probably want to use something with two wheels – at the outsides of the device. A dumbbell is great.

Simply perform the exercise above using only one hand. Swap to the other hand and do it again. Yes, this is extremely difficult. To see it in action, look no further than Ross Enamait :


Where do you get them?

As with many pieces of fitness equipment, there are three major sources :

  1. fitness and sporting goods suppliers, both online and offline
  2. garage sales and auctions (eBay is a personal favourite)
  3. construct your own

If you’re just looking for something solid that will do the job comfortably, this one on Amazon fits the bill nicely.