How to Use an Ab Roller to Train Your Core and Build a Six-Pack


The bulk of your abdominal muscle training should come in the form of core stabilization exercises.

Contrary to popular belief, your core training should not come from repetitive spinal flexion, i.e sit-ups.

The ab wheel rollout is an extremely effective exercise in teaching you to activate your core stabilizers and in strengthening the abs the correct way.

Don’t underestimate this exercise, performing it correctly is a lot harder than it looks.


Who Should Avoid It

Given the foundational strength and core control required, the ab roller is not suitable for everyone. "Those with lower back or abdominal injuries should avoid the ab wheel until fully healed and cleared, although, when the core in strengthened, it can actually help prevent strain on the core and lower back," explains Kite.

The same goes for anyone who has had surgeries on the deep abdominal region. "In which case, use the ab roller with caution or avoid this exercise altogether as it creates tension in this region when extending the muscle groups."

Also, it's important to have a basic understanding of your core before giving the ab roller a go; if you're new to working out, the ab roller is likely too advanced. "This equipment requires a strong upper body and solid core stability to master, and it's therefore typically a workout for a more intermediate or advanced fitness level," explains Bauer. So it's best to hold off until you have build up a solid fitness foundation.

Think about it: With just two handles to grip, your upper strength, stability and how you use your core muscles needs to be top notch to fluidly work the entire chain of muscles. So before you dive into ab rolling, Bauer suggests building on your core exercises, such as plank holds, plank with leg and arm lifts, and stability ball holds to build a solid base.

5. Avoid shooting forward with your hips

One of the worst mistakes is driving downward with your hips as you lower in the rollout. This all but guarantees you will cause your lower back to arch and take the tension out of your abs, which puts your spine at risk and decreases the training benefit. To counteract this, keep your hips straight or slightly bent throughout the exercise, and avoid driving your hips backward as you roll up to the starting position.

Bottom line: Use a shorter range of motion and maintain constant tension, and you’ll get a lot more out of this exercise.

Bonus Tip

Many people do not want to work all the way to their “sticking point” range, and stop a few inches short of it when they do ab wheel rollouts. Which is understandable since this exercise can be extremely humbling.

To extend your range, try reverse-engineering the rollout. Begin the exercise from the bottom, flat out on the floor, and try to pull up from the ground. As you move, maintain all the key form points mentioned above. Keep the number of reps you perform low. You’ll find that, with practice, your “sticking point” will get farther and farther out, and eventually it won’t be an issue.


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  • Get an Ab Wheel and position in front of you while you kneel on a mat or a pad (you can find a good ab wheel cheap on Amazon)
  • Grab the handles of the ab wheel, and place your full weight on the device
  • From this kneeling position, cross your legs behind you, and lift your feet off the mat (this will help stabilize you but make the movement a bit more challenging)

  • Next, I want you to lock your shoulders into place, and keep your back in neutral alignment
  • In fact, you could even round your upper back and maintain a semi-rounded position throughout the exercise
  • As with all functional exercises, brace your core tight and squeeze your glutes (this will bring your hips into a neutral position)
  • Begin the movement by rolling the wheel out in front of you while keeping your core tight

  • It is CRUCIAL that your torso alignment does not change throughout the movement
  • If your low back position changes IN ANY WAY, you are defeating the purpose of this exercise
  • Roll out only as far as you can keep you low back straight!
  • Pause for a second at the fully extended position, while keeping your core tight

  • Reverse the movement by tightening your ab muscles even further and returning to the starting position
  • Don’t forget to keep your elbows straight the entire time.

The Ab Wheel is just one of The Best compound exercises you should be doing

To see a list of them all, be sure to check out our E-book that goes over all of the best compound exercises for each body part!

We also go over them all in The Best Compound Exercises of All Time.

Modifications and Variations

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Need a Modification?

If being fully extended is too difficult, you can modify this move by descending only partway down. As your core gets stronger, you can roll the ball out a few more inches until you’re arms are fully extended.

Another way to modify the stability ball ab rollout is to widen your arms or legs. When you have a wider base, you create more stability, which makes the movement easier to perform.

Up for a Challenge?

If you’ve mastered the basic stability ball ab rollout, you might be wondering how to make it more advanced. An excellent way to make this move more difficult is to use a smaller ball. You can also choose a softer ball which makes the move harder to do.

To challenge your core, try moving the ball in different directions. Do circles with the ball in both directions—clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Finally, you can put your body into different positions. For example, place your feet or legs closer together or raise your knees off the ground. This will put you in a traditional plank position on the ball.


  • Be cautious and controlled in your motion. If you roll too far or too haphazardly, then you might hurt yourself!

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How to Use an Ab Wheel Roller?

Before discussing the benefits of using an exercise wheel, it’s very important to understand the techniques for maximizing your time on the wheel and minimizing injuries.

The “rolling out and in moves” on the exercise wheel requires a good foundation of core strength, which may be difficult for beginners without that base. For them it is suggested to start crunches or the plank first before moving onto the wheels, they should do this.

You should also know that working out the ab wheel will put some strain on your neck, this is why experts recommend that you have someone else to spot you (he will be able to see when you put all the force on your neck to do a good contraction and make sure it’s done safely).

Related Article: Best Ab Rollers of 2022: Reviewed & Compared for All Budgets

It’s also very important to tighten up your lower back as much as possible so that only the abs feel the work

In order to get maximum results from an exercise wheel, it is vital to perform the technique with good form:

  • To avoid movement, keep your body stable while rolling in and out of the exercise. It’s also best to keep your knees and arms together for an even tighter roll.
  • Make sure your abdominal muscles are engaged while doing the movement, staying safe from a back injury
  • The farther you can roll out on this exercise, the more your abdominal muscles are challenged. Start easy and gradually increase the length of the rolls.
  • Breathing is also important during ab wheel rollouts. It’s recommended that you breathe in while rolling out and exhale while rolling in.

Best AB Roller Exercises for Beginners

So, let’s move on to the exercises themselves. We describe General principles without taking into account the specifics of individual models of equipment that can reduce the load.

1. Ab Wheel Plank

Great exercise for beginners. It allows you to strengthen the necessary muscle groups, learn to keep balance. You will understand how to hold the roller in the future when performing exercises. To perform, kneel, set the roller in front of you and grasp the handle, straighten your legs and keep your body fat for 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Knee Roll-Out at Half Amplitude

The easiest version of the exercise, which is recommended for beginners. Holding hands on the handle on his knees perform rolling forward in half the possible amplitude of the movement. The lighter part of the movement is performed to an angle between arms and body of about 90 degrees, after which the reverse movement is performed.

It is recommended to perform 10-15 repetitions.

3. Knee Roll-Out in Full Amplitude

The next step as training will be similar to the movement at full amplitude. A similar movement is performed, but the rollback is performed to the endpoint until the torso is almost parallel to the floor.

It is recommended to perform 8-12 repetitions.

4. Roll-Out from the Prone Position

To make it easier to perform the exercise in full amplitude on straight legs, you can perform this exercise. Lie on the floor on his stomach, taking the roller in his hands straighten them forward in front of him. With the force of starting the movement for a full recovery. After that, slowly return to the starting position. Lying on the floor muscles will get a break, which will simplify the task. 8-12 repetitions.

5. Roll-Out with Stop

Also, if you immediately perform a rollback with ab rolls, it is difficult to use the limiter. This can be a wall or other object that allows you to rest against the roller at the farthest point of the movement. This will eliminate the peak load when rolling back. Having rested you will be able to make a pause in 1-2 seconds without the need to stop employing the force of muscles.

Perform 8-12 repetitions

6. Roll-Out of Standing Position

To take up these variants of the exercise is when all the previous options are performed without significant effort. Standing on straight legs bend over, put a roller on the floor and start moving forward until the floor is touched by your chest. After a pause of 1-2 seconds back to the starting position. 8-15 reps

7. Aside Roll-Out

Having mastered the basic options of exercises, you can perform additional ones. In this embodiment, exercises you need to perform a forward movement with a turn to the side. So you are more involved in oblique abdominal muscles. You must perform an equal number of repetitions on each side.

Perform 12-16 repetitions

8. Push-UPS from the Roller

You train your arm muscles (triceps), shoulders, chest. Holding the video in front of you becomes the bar. Slowly perform push-UPS, keeping balance. The work actively includes muscle stabilizers. The recommended number of repetitions 8-12

9. Bridge Hold

This exercise trains the hips and buttocks, as well as the lower back. To perform lie on your back, spread your hands slightly to the side and put your hands down.

Feet are set on the handle of the roller. Bending his legs in his lap roll up to him lifting the pelvis. Hold this position for a few seconds and return to the starting position.

Initially perform 8-12 reps.

It is most convenient to perform this exercise with the Lifeline Power Wheel.

Your feet will be securely fixed and the exercise will be as comfortable as possible. If there is no such a roller, any other with a straight handle of sufficient width will do.

10. One-Leg Roll-Out

This is a more complex version of the standard rolling out on straight legs. Require good training of the muscles of the stabilizers. Standing on the floor roller put in front of you, start rolling out firmly holding the handle. Lift one leg, hold it straight. The reverse movement is performed standing on one leg. Returning to the original starting position and repeat the movement of raising the second leg and making a 6 – 10 repetitions.

11. Oblique Tuck with Roller

Also, this exercise can be performed to train oblique muscles. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that when performing reverse movement alternately rises leg bent at the knee to the elbow on each side. It is recommended to perform an equal number of repetitions on each side.


Next, we have the issue of the pelvis dropping into anterior pelvic tilt throughout the exercise (especially when we roll all the way out). The problem with this is the amount of strain on the lumbar spine. The way to fix this mistake when using the ab roller wheel is to keep in mind that the pelvis should be at least neutral to a posterior pelvic tilt. By making sure to keep the pelvis out of anterior tilt throughout the repetition, you are also making sure that the abs are taking the brunt of the work performed in the exercise. You will also notice that any low back pain that you were having when doing this exercise, will disappear.

Bonus Tip: The Secret to Getting Abs That Pop

If you want to get the most out of the ab roller exercises, you should try doing them with your feet up on a bench. This elevates your upper body and makes it harder for you to keep good form during the push-up.

Performing ab rollouts from this position allows for a greater range of motion, which in turn helps you work out the inner core muscles more and get rid of that belly fat.

So if you’re looking for a super-effective way to tone and strengthen your core muscles, this ab wheel workout is definitely for you.

Related Article: These 17 Cardio Workouts Will Make You Sweat Fast

2. Use your lats

At the beginning of each rep, tighten your lats by pulling your shoulders down and back. This helps to stabilize your spine in a manner similar to when you do a Deadlift. At the bottom position, roll yourself back to the starting position by pulling with your lats, which is a similar movement to a Straight-Arm Pulldown.

Exactly What Muscles Does It Target?

A bunch of muscles are responsible for helping your body fight gravity during the rolling phase. "The ab wheel allows you to train your entire core—your abdominals, glutes, back muscles, and obliques—to work as a unit," explains Bauer.

Whilst the rectus abdominis (the 'abs') is the primary mover, other muscles come into play. "The transverse abdominis, the inner abs and deepest muscle in our core, is also very important as it is primarily responsible for stabilizing the spine and the pelvis," outlines Kite. The internal and external obliques (located on the side of the stomach) also fire up, and are crucial for executing the movement with proper form.

"The ab roller is an excellent exercise for working the upper body musculature too, including the erector spinae, the stabilizing muscles running the length of your spine, the latissimus dorsi (or lats), the broadest muscles on each side of your back, and your deltoids (shoulders), chest, biceps and triceps," Bauer adds.

The lats and shoulders are stimulated primarily during the rolling out phase, while your core is worked during the secondary, rolling back stage. Remember, a stronger core benefits the body's daily function in many ways, such as torso rotation and flexing, as well as protecting your spine.


Training with the Ab Roller allows you to effectively build the AB muscles. It is important to master and follow the technique of performing exercises and not to strive to perform a large number of repetitions at once. AB Roller Exercises for Beginners is a test of willpower. Because it is often not as easy as it seems at first. Initially, use lighter versions of the exercises, leaning on your knees or using a stopper.

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