How to use an Ab Wheel

What is an Ab Wheel?

I wish I started incorporating the ab wheel into my routine sooner. This tool takes up only a tiny space in your garage or closet, but it gets the job done in strengthening several parts of your body. 

Using the ab wheel will work your full body, but it especially focuses on the:

  • Core
  • Back
  • Shoulders

Let’s jump in!

How to Use an Ab Wheel?

Start on your knees with the ab wheel a few inches in front of you. Position your knees so they are a little more than shoulder-width apart. 

Grab the handles of the ab wheel with your hands and position the ab wheel so that it’s directly under your shoulders. Your arms should be perpendicular to the ground. Make sure that your back is not hunched or concaved; your back should be a straight line from your hips up to your shoulders. Once you are in the correct position, inhale. 

As you exhale, tighten your stomach, and start to move your torso forward, with your arms leading the way. As you move your torso forward, extend your arms with strong shoulders, until your face is near the ground and your shoulders are by your ears. 

As you inhale, tighten your core, and return to the starting position. On the return, it’s important focus on using your core to elevate and retreat your torso back to starting position. Repeat. 

This movement takes a lot of practice at first. For beginners, I recommend only rolling a few inches in front of you, then return to starting position. Over time and with practice, build enough strength so that you can roll out and have your face to the ground. 

Do it safely but have fun – this is a great exercise!

Where to Purchase an Ab Wheel? 

I personally use the following one that I purchased on Amazon

I really like the width of the wheel on this one. The wheel is not too narrow, and there’s hardly any friction in its movement. It also comes with a small mat (which I hardly use). 

This is an affiliate link, and as an Amazon associate I earn on qualifying purchases. But this is the exact wheel that I use, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

How to Program with an Ab Wheel?

Here are some ideas on how you can program an ab wheel. 

1. Do an Ab Wheel Finisher

A finisher is just a short sequence of exercise(s) that you add to the end of your workout. And an ab wheel is a great finisher to add to your workout. Do 5 sets of 5 repetitions at the end of your workout. Slowly work your way until you can do 5 sets of 8 repetitions. 

2. Add an Ab Wheel as an Exercise in a 5×5 workout

A 5×5 workout, as covered in my post on minimalist workouts, is a circuit workout comprised of 5 rounds of 5 movements. Select 4 other movements, and then add the ab wheel as the 5th movement at the end of the series. 

3. Use the movement in a Core Workout

Here’s a very simple core workout that you can do 2-3 times a week, using the wheel:

5 rounds of:

This program works your entire core (abs, obliques, lower back), and is a simple addition to your current program. 

Trainer Tips for the Ab Wheel

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Increase the distance that you roll with the ab roller. 
      • The goal is to get your shoulders and arms extended, with a flat and strong back, with your face close to the ground. 
    • Hold your extended position at the bottom for a few seconds. 
    • Engage your obliques by rolling at angles. 
      • Roll 45 degrees to the right, then return to the starting position. 
      • Roll straight, then return to the starting position.
      • Roll 45 degrees to the left, then return to the starting position. 
    • Open your hands while rolling. 
      • This is the hardest variation I’ve done. Do not try this until you are proficient with the ab roller movement. 
  • Regression (make easier)
    • Shorten the distance that you roll with the ab roller.
      • Start by rolling only a few inches forward. 
      • You will notice that you can go further and further with more practice and strengthening. 
    • Get an ab wheel that has a wider wheel.
      • The thinner the wheel, the harder this movement is. The wider the wheel, the easier this movement is. 
    • Lower your repetition count. 
    • Practice the Plank movement. 
  • Application:
    • Complete as a finisher (5 sets of 5, work your way up to 8 reps).
    • Add as a 5th movement in a 5×5 workout. 
    • Use it as a part of a core workout. 
  • Use in Layman’s Fitness Programs:
    • 8-Week Thruster Program

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