Before getting into the specifics of an ab roller (also known as an ab wheel) and how it can benefit you, let’s quickly review a bit about abs. The truth is that lots of people don’t know much about the abdominal muscle group. There’s so much misleading information about how to train abs effectively and the frequency with which they should be trained. In our post on how often to train abs, we covered in detail what abs are and how they should be trained. Here’s a quick recap.
Your abs are going to recover more quickly than other muscle groups because they’re at work every day. No matter if you’re sitting, standing, exercising, or perfecting your downward dog, your abs are always engaged. Core muscles help your body move and bend and do a lot to help support your spine. In turn, this gives you better posture.
Better posture can help ensure your bones and joints are in their correct alignment. It helps to decrease wearing of your joints and decreases the amount of stress placed on the ligaments in your spine. In short, good posture is key if you’re seeking your best life possible.
The abdominal group fits into this equation as a key player, since your core muscles help to keep everything upright. Simply, the stronger you keep your abs, the stronger the rest of your body will become. As such, the frequency and intensity with which you train your abs should be given just as much attention as leg day or a good chest workout.
Of course, diet is a crucial component to getting your abs to show, but the short and the long of it is that doing a bunch of core exercises isn’t going to give you a six-pack. Instead, a quality ab training program using an ab roller combined with a carefully planned diet will be more beneficial.
Your abdominal muscles can be broken down into four major groups. Because there are four groups to work with, you should be varying your ab exercises to hit multiple planes of movement. This means that the most ideal program will target all areas and include spinal flexion, rotation, extension, and stability. When you use an ab roller correctly, you’re hitting all of these areas.
Best Ab Rollers: Quick Picks
- ASM Fitness Box Best Value
- H&S Ab Abdominal Exercise Roller With Extra Thick Knee Pad Mat
- Elite Body Squad Pro Quality Ab Wheel With Free Soft Kneeling Mat
- ResultSport® Double Wheel ab roller
- 66fit Ab Roller Wheel & Knee Pad
- PROIRON Gym Roller Wheel
- Elite Sportz Ab Wheel Roller
- Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro Roller
Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon.
What is an Ab Roller and How Do They Work?
The ab roller is probably one of the simplest pieces of exercise equipment. It’s just two handles connecting a wheel. You place your hands palm-side down on each handle and roll out. The idea is that while you’re holding it, you can move both backward and forward in different directions. Advanced users can also roll at an angle to further engage your entire core. You have to roll with control to make it most effective. Think of the roll out as the negative pull or push on a compound lift – that’s where the muscle is stretched to its furthest capacity and ultimately where the growth happens.
The simplicity of the design makes many people doubt its use, but it’s actually an advanced training tool that will help produce great results. When used correctly, it engages not only your core, but also your lats and triceps. In this way, it’s an excellent finisher to a compound deadlift day or even a big chest workout.
When you use an ab roller, your core must remain engaged and tight to prevent your back from arching. This means that you’re flexing your spine to both stretch and contract all four groups of your abdominal muscles at once. It’s a full range of motion and provides deeper muscle engagement than other ab exercises.
An ab roller also engages several smaller, accessory muscle groups. Your hip flexors strengthen and lengthen as you roll out, and your shoulders are used to keep your arms stable.
Step by step guide to using an ab roller
- Grip the ab roller by placing on hand on each handle. Place the wheel on the floor directly underneath your shoulders. This is your start position.
- Keep your arms and back straight and slowly roll the wheel out away from you.
- As you’re rolling, contract and engage your abs and lats.
- Ensure your lower back isn’t sagging toward the ground.
- Hold the position for 3 – 5 seconds. Advanced users will be able to hold for longer times.
- Complete the movement when your upper body is parallel to the ground.
- Slowly roll back to the start position.
Safety Tips when using an ab roller
- Keep in mind that the more slowly you move, the less likely you are to injure yourself. Take it exceptionally slow if you’re concerned about your balance or haven’t done much fitness training recently. Beginner users might benefit from rolling out close to a wall so you can gauge ideal starting and ending positions.
- If you’re using the ab roller on your knees, don’t let them sag. Engage your legs and hip flexors as much as possible to help build endurance and strength.
- Don’t arch your back during the roll out to avoid injury.
- Keeping your head down and facing forward, similar to the starting position of a press-up ensures your neck and cervical spine are safe.
- Exhale when you roll out and inhale when you return to your start will help you keep pace.
- Proper form is exceptionally important when using an ab roller. This is true for all fitness equipment, but especially so with this device.
Benefits of an Ab Roller
When used correctly, an ab roller will help to engage your core muscles simultaneously. Whereas other ab exercises target specific regions of your abdominal muscle group, an ab roller work in harmony with all of them. This ensures there is no muscular imbalances, which can happen if you only do one type of core exercise, like crunches.
As you use the ab roller more frequently, you’ll become stronger. Challenging yourself to roll further and hold the form longer builds on your strength.
What Features Do You Need to Consider?
Features are an important consideration when purchasing an ab roller, mainly because it’s such a basic piece of equipment. Evaluating models based on comfort, durability, and stability will help you pick the one that’s perfect for you.
Comfort levels are going to vary based on the person, but if you’re like most, you might want some padding under your knees. This is especially true if you’re planning to use the ab roller on a hard surface, like concrete. Some models come with a foam knee pad that helps prevent bruising. Some pads might be higher quality than others, but most often the padding is made from EVA foam. Others are more similar to yoga mats. Thickness will impact the overall comfort level of the knee pad, as thinner pads are likely to wear out more quickly than thicker ones.
In addition to the option of a mat for your knees, consider the material covering on the handles and the kind of grip that will be most effective for you. Many rollers have rubber-coated handles that offer a non-slip, firm grip. Others might be covered in a material similar to a yoga mat. There are some options which use memory foam. The point here is that a well-designed handle can be the make-or-break feature for an ab roller. Plastic handles are likely going to give you some discomfort, especially if you’re using the ab roller often.
When evaluating handles, also check for finger grooves. This is a great feature to have because it helps keep your grip in place. Grooves will ensure your fingers down slip or splay, which can cause injury.
It might seem like overkill but consider the overall durability of your ab roller. Plastic rollers might break after significant use. If the ab roller is made of stainless steel, it’s probably far more durable than other options. The roller’s weight capacity also factors into the durability of the model. A higher weight capacity is going to be more secure and durable and probably last longer all around.
This might be the single most important factor when evaluating ab rollers. If the equipment isn’t stable, you’re not going to get a good ab workout and you could potentially harm yourself. Ab rollers that have two wheels are far more stable than those with just one. The majority of ab rollers use non slip rubber wheels. Look for a roller that has tread on the wheels to add an extra layer of stability. It will also give you more traction, helping you to stretch out long and roll in with control.
Best Ab Rollers – The Reviews
Best Value: ASM Fitness Box
This complete fitness box from ASM comes with an ab roller, knee pad, skipping rope, and rotation push up bars. It’s essentially everything you might need for a comprehensive bodyweight core workout at home. A rubber grip on the handle of the ab roller ensures your movement is smooth, safe, and help prevent injury.
- 15mm thick knee pad
- Metal axles help offer stability and strength for users of all weights
- Rotational push up bars reduces wrist stain
- Skipping rope is lightweight, easy to use for at-home cardio
- Ab roller is very narrow, which could put stress on shoulder joints, especially for novice users
- Plastic wheel on ab roller might break
- Rotational push up movements can be challenging for those new to fitness
- Skipping rope might not be suited for speed rope work
Having everything available as a complete ab roller kit is beneficial, making this fitness box an easy choice. You’re going to get an ab roller and the additional push up and jump rope equipment. Combined, all three exercises can certainly help elevate your fitness level and provide you with lots of combinations for at home workouts.
This H&S ab roller comes with a knee pad to help prevent injury and discomfort to your knees. It has dual wheels to help keep your roll outs smooth and measured, and also features non slip rubber grip handles. It’s very lightweight, making it simple to take with you while traveling.
- Dual wheels will keep you balanced
- Rubber gripped handles ensure grip doesn’t slip
- Wheel height makes it accessible for everyone
- No finger grooves on handles
- Assembly required
- No indication of max user weight
- Unknown wheel and handle material
This is a decent ab roller that will definitely be of use to people who are just starting a fitness routine. Without knowing the max user weight, it’s unclear if it’s safe for heavier people. Without grooves on the handles, fingers could slip, and possibly make this model unsafe. The mat could be thicker, but the foam will likely protect against major injury.
A stainless-steel axle and twin wheels make rolling and out easy. Rubber non-slip handles help keep your grip in place. An included 15cm thick mat will help protect your knees. Lightweight and durable, this ab roller can easily travel wherever you go.
- Tread on the wheel can be useful for stability
- Double wheel will add a layer of stability, especially for novice users
- Rubber grips can help keep hands in place
- Bar appears to be made from plastic, so might not support heavier weight people
- Handles appear small in the photos
As one of the more basic ab rollers, this Elite Body Squad ab roller will probably get the job done. It might be a little narrow for some users, since there’s not much distance between the wheel and the handle grips.
Large 18.5 cm double wheels gives you the height and stability you need when using an ab roller. The handles have grooves that help keep your grip in place, and this ResultSport ab roller comes with knee pad to help prevent injury.
- Stainless steel rod suggests sturdy construction suitable for users of all weight
- Wheels have tread to keep the action stable while rolling out
- Knee pad will be useful if using on hard-surface floors
- A hammer might be needed to assemble, so take care!
- Assembly of the handle grips might be challenging
- Plastic wheel could give way, crack, or break
Like all ab rollers, this ResultSport will help you tone and build muscle strength in your abs, shoulders, lats, and arms. The knee pad should be wide enough for most users but might be too narrow depending on your leg width. The wheels are made of plastic so they could crack or break. Since assembly often requires a hammer, this might not be the best roller to dismantle and take on holiday.
On the smaller side, this 66fit ab roller was designed to be very portable It’s easy to take with you anywhere. Foam grip handles make sure you keep a good grip while using the ab roller and the double wheel keeps your movement smooth and safe. A knee pad made from EVA foam can keep your knees comfortable and prevent injury.
- Instructional graphics to help users operate the wheel correctly
- EVA foam maty is wide and thick
- Foam handles can help keep grip secure and hand placement in the optimal position
- Videos available online to help users create optimal workouts
- Main material is PVC, so might not be suitable for all users
- Hard rubber tread on wheels might damage some floor surfaces
- Wheels look very narrow, so might not be suitable for all users
The option of instructional videos online and the insert info card is a nice touch, especially for users who might not be familiar with an ab roller. Thick handles help keep your hands in place, but the main material is PVC. This ab roller might or might not stand the test of time. For novice users, it would certainly fit the bill though.
With a foldable function and a detachable handle, the Gantzon ab roller can easily fit in luggage to have on the go. A progressive triangular design gives this roller a strong, stable base. The four wheel design is great for stability and the Proiron works well on hard floors with a design that is friendly to wooden flooring.
- Better stability than a single wheel
- Foam handles help keep grip and wrists in line, preventing injury
- Knee pad included in box
- Folding design might be more of a gimmick if you aren’t going pack it in a bag
This is a progressively designed ab roller and the folding option is useful if you’re planning to travel with your ab roller.
Dual wheels and non-slip handles help even the novice user get one step closer to a strong core. The Elite Sportz ab roller comes completely assembled. Handles made from a combination of plastic and soft rubber give you a good grip while using the roller.
- Instructional videos available on website
- Comes fully assembled so there’s no wasted time
- Double wheel offers support for users of all levels
- 100% customer satisfaction guarantee
- Roller is somewhat narrow, so it might be difficult for some users
- Seems to be made of plastic and not metal; manufacturer doesn’t specify product material
- Max user weight not known
The money-back satisfaction guarantees aside, this ab roller might be a good starter piece of equipment for someone who is interested in a fitness routine but hasn’t completely committed. The added benefit of instructional video online is helpful, especially for those who are new to using ab rollers.
Ergonomically shaped handles and a thick wheel help separate this ab roller from all the rest. A carbon steel spring helps provide additional resistance and intensifies the workout you’ll get when using it. The wide wheel adds additional stability when using the ab roller at angles.
- Carbon steel spring adds resistance and stability to all workouts
- Handle shape seems like there will be less strain to wrists
- Downloadable 21-day workout plan
- Wide wheel suggests roll out motion will be smooth and controlled
- Ergonomic handles might not be suited for all users
- Unknown max user weight
- It would be beneficial if spring could be disengaged, especially for novice users
The handle shape of the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro sets it apart from all the others. It seems like it will provide more support with the inner steel spring. A wider wheel offers control to use at angles. The handles remove for transporting this roller anywhere you might go.
Remember that all muscle groups need rest. It’s always exciting to get a new piece of gear, and if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll probably want to use your new ab roller a lot. When you train your abs, don’t forget that you’re extending the muscle fibres to the point of slight damage so they can regrow bigger and stronger. This rebuilding can’t take place if you’re constantly rolling on your ab roller.
No matter which product you select, an ab roller is going to give you a core workout that’s superior to traditional ab workouts. In engaging different planes of moment, you’ll improve the effectiveness of your workout and help strengthen muscles besides your core.
When your core muscles are balanced correctly, your spine is at its optimal position, keeping everything safe and preventing injury. Good posture and a solid base are only two of the benefits of developing a strong core. You’ll also ensure that all of your limbs are able to function optimally when your core is at a top-notch level.
Remember that proper technique is vital when using an ab roller. This helps prevent muscle strain and prevents injury. Avoid pressure and strain on your lower back when you maintain the correct form and know you’re one step closer to your fitness goals. This is an inexpensive fitness tool to add to your home gym that can offer you myriad core-strengthening benefits. Why not order one today and give your abs a blast?