The Ab-Roller Workout That Seriously Challenges Every Muscle in Your Body

Photo: Getty/Westend61
What can I say? I love the feeling of strengthening my muscles on a Megaformer machine, working them in 50 minutes worth of planks and lunges until my core, legs, and butt are shaking. It's the only workout that I can do multiple times a week, for months on end, without getting bored or burned out. And also, it helps me get seriously strong. But given that so many of us are accustomed to working out from home these days, I wondered: Could I get the same full-body, core-quaking workout from a $17 ab roller made famous from "As Seen On TV" ads? Yup.

The Benefits of Ab Roller Exercises

1. It's cheaper than a Pilates or Megaformer class.

While these machines offer more bells and whistles that help amp up your workout, there are some ways you can use an ab roller to get the same sort of moves in at home. Plus, it's a one-time cost of under $20 — not a repeat expense of $30 per class.

Experts In This Article

2. It challenges your stability and force you to engage your whole core.

"I love to utilize the stability aspect of the ab roller, so the movements become more functional," says FitHouse trainer Mark Osmundsen. "It helps clients focus on engaging the muscles of the upper back while working the abs and obliques."

3. It's a full body workout.

In addition to getting your core and back quaking, you can also use the ab roller to work pretty much all of your other major muscles, too, including your glutes, obliques, hamstrings, shoulders, and quads.

4. It helps prevent lower back pain.

Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins recently told us that it's the best "As Seen On TV" fitness tool around. “Ab rollouts are an advanced core exercise that prevents extension at the lumbar spine or lower back," she said. "Most people who complain of low back issues are prescribed ab exercises. ‘Anti-extension’ exercises, such as an ab rollout, will help stabilize the pelvis and spine."

How To Use an Ab Roller

The basic idea of the ab roller is adding an extension and retraction to a plank that requires you to engage your core and back. To get the feel for the move, start off in a plank with your knees on the ground. Make sure your legs, back, neck, and the top of your head form a straight line. That's your home base position.

Now, instead of being in a kneeling plank with your hands on the floor, place your hands on that ab roller. Engage your muscles, and slowly push the roller away from you. Make sure to keep your arms straight and your body in that straight line! Once you've gone out as far as you can while maintaining good form, pull the ab roller back into you so you're back in that plank position.

Ta-da, you've just done an ab roll!

Advanced Ab Roller Variations

Kneeling side plank saw (obliques/back)

Stack your knees and square your pelvis to one side. Then, grab and press down on your ab roller directly below your shoulders, and push it slowly out in front of you while breathing in. Then, exhale while pulling your wrists back in slowly to stack underneath your shoulders.

Ab roller pike (abs/shoulders)

Gripping onto the ab roller, stack your wrists under your shoulders and hold a plank. Using engaging forces downward, pull your abdominals in and pike your pelvis upward while rolling the ab roller toward your feet. Then, roll slowly back down into a plank position and repeat.

Ab roller leg curl (hamstrings/glutes)

Place your feet on each handle of the ab roller, and press your shoulder blades town into the floor. Lift your pelvis and bend your knees in, rolling the device slowly in toward your butt. Then, extend it slowly back out, keeping core and glute tight and hips lifted as much as possible.

Snag these ab rollers to start working your core now

Vinsguir Ab Roller Wheel — $16.09

This no-frills ab wheel comes with a mat for your knees so that you can modify if you need to, in order to get the full benefits of a move.

rbx wheel
RBX Ab Roller Wheel, Set of 2 — $29.99

If you want slightly more stability, these ab rollers, which you place in each hand help you to have more stability on the ground, while still seriously testing the strength of your core muscles.

Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro Roller for Core Workouts — $39.99

This ab wheel has a slightly wider base than basic models as well as ergonomic handles to support your wrists as you move through muscle-quaking movements.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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