Performing an Ab Roll
- For proper technique, start on the floor on your hands and knees. Use an exercise mat under your knees for comfort. Grip the ab roller with both hands, and prepare to roll.
Roll forward and contract your abs. Hold the bars on either side of the wheel, and move forward from your core. Roll your hands, arms, and torso forward until just before you feel like you can no longer pull yourself back up. Keep your abs tight, the hips stable, and the lower back muscles contracted.
- Hold your form tight. Try not to let your bottom sag toward the ground. Do not let your back arch. Keep your head down, facing forward.
Hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds. The longer you hold the extended or "rolled out" pose, the more intensively you will target your abs. Begin with a few slow repetitions.
Return to the starting position. After a few seconds, use your core muscles to roll the ab roller back toward your knees. Slowly pull yourself back, keeping the same careful pace the whole time. As you "roll in," perform the mirror opposite of the "roll out" move that you used to stretch yourself out. Once you're back, you have completed one "rep" of a standard ab roller workout.
- Make sure that you are using your abs to pull yourself back. You may also use your arms, your shoulders, and your lats. Try not to use your hips.
- Keep in mind that can tear your connective tissues in the shoulder and may even dislocate the shoulder if done improperly, so proceed gradually and with caution. If you experience any shoulder pain, reduce your range of motion and build up gradually.
Honing Your Technique
Be aware of your form. Keep your arms and back straight. Focus your attention on your abdominal muscles. The harder you flex your abs here, the stronger they will become.
- Do not let your knees or your bottom sag toward the ground at any point. Imagine that there is a long, flat plank on your back, from your head to your tailbone. Try to conform your body position as truly as possible to this imaginary level.
Roll slowly. Unfold and contract your body gradually and carefully as you move through the exercise. Keep your arms even and straight so that the wheel doesn't spin out of control. Try to maintain the same slow, measured speed throughout the entirety of each rep. You'll get a better workout if you take it slowly.
Try rolling into a wall. This technique may help you maintain a measured workout pace. To start, position yourself three feet away from a wall. Then, perform the ab roll as normal until your ab roller makes contact with the wall. This is your "touch point" – your signal that you have gone far enough on this rep. Roll back up to your hands and knees for the next rep.
- It is especially important to roll slowly if you're going to be rolling toward a wall. Use this as a focusing point, to be more aware of the cadence of your roll.
Building a Routine
Begin with one set of three to eight repetitions. Build the ab roller into your weekly routine. For a basic regimen, aim to do a set three days of each week for five weeks. If you want faster results, then it is advisable to combine ab roller workouts with other abdominal workouts.
- Stick to the sweet spot of three to eight reps per set to start, and progress up to three sets of 10 reps only once you have mastered your form and built strength.
Do the exercise on your knees. Some amateur exercise enthusiasts suggest using ab rollers in a standing position, but most people, especially beginners, do not have have muscle control for such. Always perform this exercise on your knees to make the most of the motion and to keep yourself safe.
Hold for longer for a more challenging workout. The standard rep calls for you to hold the fully-extended, "rolled-out" pose for 2-3 seconds before you roll back to your starting position. Experiment with holding the pose for longer – almost like the plank pose. Do not overextend yourself, though. Losing strength or reaching a failure point while extended could cause you to tear muscles and tendons, and may lead to permanent injury.