The ab wheel rollout is an advanced core strengthening exercise that teaches core-bracing techniques. Without proper cueing and technique, this seemingly simple exercise is often performed incorrectly resulting in loss of mechanical efficiency. Below are some simple cues to assist clients in performing the exercise as effectively and efficiently as possible.
During exercise, optimal performance is ideal for every repetition executed. Each rep has a purpose: growth. To achieve this, aim to keep the exercise challenging from beginning of the movement until its completion.
So what’s wrong?
When doing the ab wheel rollout, clients often start from the top (upright position), rollout forward with a flexed hip, and then return to the start/top position, leading with the hips.
Observe the image below.
When leading with the hips to start position, we are removing the tension within the core that the ab wheel is designed to train, and decreased tension decreases the overall effectiveness of the exercise.
Furthermore, the dynamic stabilization effect of the exercise on the shoulders is minimized when returning to start position with the hips.
Simple Correction Cues:
1. Knee, hip and shoulder are aligned. To perform the rollout effectively, the knee, hip, and shoulder joints must remain aligned throughout the entire movement. By maintaining alignment, maximal core tension is preserved from the start to the end of the rep.
2. Engage lats to return to upright position. From the bottom position, engage the core, keep the joints aligned, and pull up to starting position using only the lats.
3. Keep wheel directly under the shoulders. The ab wheel should start and finish directly under the shoulders.
Observe the attached image
Many clients do not want to work in the sticking point range when using the ab wheel. It is common to observe clients reaching out only a few inches, as at times this is the only range they are able to work within.
To enable clients to work within their ‘weak zone’, try ‘reverse engineering’ the rollout. Have the client begin the exercise from the bottom, flat out on the floor and try to pull him or herself up from the ground. Maintain all the key points and set the rep range low. As strength increases, the sticking range will no longer be an issue. The only way to get stronger is to impose stress on the body!