Thursday 16 January 2014

Ab wheel rollouts

Ab wheel rollouts provide a great core workout with the use of a simple device: the ab wheel. Though the exercise may look deceptively easy, performing ab wheel rollouts from your feet is a challenge that should not be underestimated.

Prerequisites (for standing versions):
Wall plank ; hanging straight leg V-raises

This progression will work the rectus abdominis (as well as all the other deep core muscles) both concentrically and -in order to lower yourself under control- eccentrically. Ab wheel rollouts (particularly one arm versions) also require a fair amount of upper body strength.

The video below will show you how to perform the exercise with correct form from your feet, but the principles remain exactly the same whether you are doing knee rollouts, or the incline and decline versions.

A few important points:
- at any given time during the movement, there should only be three points of contact with the ground: the ab wheel, and your knees or your feet, depending on which variation you are doing.
- your feet should be together, or at least very close. By opening up your feet, you will shorten the distance the ab wheel has to travel, and thus cheat yourself on the exercise by minimizing the leverage (though this can also be a good strategy in order to add some intermediate steps to the progression below).
- avoid letting your back sag. In order to do so, tense your core muscles, maintain this tension throughout the exercise, and tilt your pelvis backwards.

Choose one of the following variations as a starting point and perform 3 sets of between 4 and 8 repetitions with periods of between 1 and 2 min of rest between each set. When you can do 3 sets of 8, move on to the next exercise in the progression.

 1. Incline knee rollouts. Start on your knees, and roll the wheel as far forward as possible without touching the floor on an incline. This could be a plank you are using for this purpose, or the exercise could simply be performed on a sloping surface such as a driveway, etc.
2. Knee rollouts. The exercise is performed on your knees, on a flat surface. Roll the wheel as far forward as possible under tension, and make sure you do not allow your chest to touch the ground.
3. Decline knee rollouts. Same as above but on a declining slope.
4. Incline standing rollouts. These are performed from your feet, with both feet close together. Tilt your pelvis backwards when performing the exercise to avoid your back sagging.
If you find the transition from the previous variation difficult, perform these with your feet apart, and bring them together over time.
5. Standing rollouts. Same as above, but on a flat surface.
6. Decline standing rollouts. Same as above, but on a declining surface.
7. One arm standing rollouts. This variation requires considerable upper body strength. It requires purchasing a device in which the 2 wheels can be brought apart with a handle in the middle, though it can also be performed with a dumbbell. Incline and decline versions of this exercise can also be performed. Keep your spare arm by your side or folded under your belly.


  1. Once again, excellent article. Ive just started with this exercise a couple of weeks ago so this progression will really be useful

  2. Would you be able to push the wheel side to side to work out the obliques a bit more?

    1. You could but anti lateral flexion (suitcase carries) are more beneficial.