How to do a Perfect Ab Roller Workout

How to do a perfect ab roller workout

Ab roller wheels are wonderfully versatile and effective workout tools, providing amazing workouts for your abs, core, and stabilizer muscles. They are one of the most effective ab machines out there, so why are so many people scared of using them?


A lot of people will use an ab roller wheel once or twice, find they can't do it or that it is too hard and give up. Because of this, ab wheels get a bit of an unfair reputation as a gizmo or gadget, rather than being seen as an essential tool in the fight against a flabby tummy. 

If this sounds like you, or you are just interested in how to do a perfect ab roller workout to attack your abs, then this guide is for you. 


Before you Roll

If you want to get the best out of your ab roller session, there are a few things you will need to get ready first. 

  • An ab roller wheel - This sounds obvious, but the first thing you need is an ab roller. There are a lot of different types available, suitable for all different fitness levels and body types, so it's important that you choose the right one for you. You can check out our rundown of the best ab rollers here.
  • A knee pad - You are going to spend a lot of time on your knees doing this workout, so you need to make sure you are comfortable. You can either buy a knee pad, use a yoga mat, or fold up a nice soft towel to place under your knees. Whatever you use, make sure it is non-slip or won't slide around on the surface you are using to roll. 
  • A space to roll - You will need a flat, wide area to roll in, that is clear of obstructions and at least as long as your own body. You can roll on any type of floor, from carpet to tile, but some ab rollers are not suitable for some surfaces. Double check before you begin if you don't want to scratch up that lovely wooden floor.
A green yoga mat

Yoga mats give perfect cushioning to your knees. Photo by Werner Moser (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How to do an Ab Roller Workout

The basic ab roller workout is actually quite simple to do, when done right. Follow the basic steps below and you'll be rollin' like a pro in no time. 

  • Step 1 - Kneel down on your knee pad or yoga mat, with your knees together. Place the ab wheel on the floor in front of you.
  • Step 2 - Holding the ab roller wheel by the handles, bend at the waist and let the handles take your weight. The ab wheel should be roughly directly below your chest, almost like you are a bicycle and it is your front wheel. 
  • Step 3 - With a slow, controlled motion, roll out as far as is comfortable for you. If you are a beginner you don't need to roll out far to get a lot of effect from this exercise, so don't try to go too far and hurt yourself. Keep your back straight, abs pulled in and tight, and arms rigid throughout the motion. We also have a beginner's guide to ab rolling here, if you need more advice.
  • Step 4 - Hold for 2 - 3 seconds (if you can) then slowly roll back to your starting position. Repeat for as many reps as you can or want to do.

Ab Roller Pro-Tips

To get the absolute most out of your session, here are a few extra tricks and tips you can use. 

Pro-Tip #1 - Roll Slow

When doing any exercise you want to get maximum effect for your efforts. One of the easiest ways to maximize muscle engagement is to perform the exercise slowly.  The more slowly you work, the longer the muscle is engaged and the more work it does.

For the most effective ab roller workout, try to roll-out over 2-3 seconds, hold for 2-3 seconds, and roll back over 2-3 seconds. Doing one rep like this will do a lot more work than a bunch of quick reps. 

Pro-Tip #2 - Form First

Make sure that your form is right before you start to do more advanced techniques. It might feel great to start doing s-curves and side roll-outs, but if your form is sloppy you are not going to be getting the full benefit.

A few simple, basic roll-outs performed with correct form will do much more for your core muscles than 100 sloppy ones. 

Pro-Tip #3 - Mind your Thumbs

Instead of placing your thumb under the handle, like you do when riding on a bicycle, place it on top next to your fingers. This grip will give you a wider surface area in contact with the handles, and give you extra stability as you roll. 

Pro-Tip #4 - Wall Control

If you are a beginner, set up in front of a wall, with the wall about half of your body's length away. When you roll out, the wall will stop you rolling out too far and help you to control your form. As you get fitter and stronger, you can move further away from the wall.

A red brick wall

The humble brick wall - your secret to great form

The Final Verdict

Ab wheels are one of the best ab machines out there for your abs, core, and stabilizer muscles. There are a wide range of ab wheel exercises to get your core tight and that six pack popping, so always make space and time for one in your fitness routine.

Make sure you have the right ab roller for you, a good space to roll in, and follow our basic and pro tips and you will be doing the perfect ab roller workout in no time.

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Bauchmuskeltipps - December 1, 2018 Reply

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