BREAK IT DOWN: The Ab Rollout

By Maggie Fazeli Fard |

The ab rollout is a core exercise that uses an ab wheel, a small wheel with handles on either side (its cousin, the ab dolly, is a rolling platform). This movement — and its accompanying tools — is enjoying a renaissance among trainers, thanks to wider understanding of how the abdominal muscles work and the importance of training the entire core, from sternum to pelvis and all the way around the midsection.

Ab rolling is an effective way to target the “deep core,” which includes the deep transverse and oblique muscles. They all contribute to good posture, stability, and both rotational and antirotational ability.

The key to effective training and avoiding injury is knowing the right way to roll, and to roll forward only as far as you can under control. A small movement performed well will have more benefits and fewer risks than a large movement done poorly.

Incorporate this move once or twice a week, along with other moves that engage the abs, back, hips, and pelvic floor. (Learn more about your core at “How to Create a Strong Core”.)


Kneel on a yoga mat or towel to support your knees, with an ab wheel in front of you.

Grasp the handles and balance the wheel directly under your shoulders. Make sure your wrists are straight and your back is flat. Set your gaze slightly in front of you while maintaining a neutral neck position.

Shift your weight forward through your hips, setting the wheel in motion. Use your hands to track the wheel straight ahead without pushing.

As your hips extend, allow your shoulders to open and the wheel to roll in front of you.

  1. Tip: Hold your chest high to avoid arching your back.

Move forward only as far as you can under control. Hold at this end range momentarily, then reverse the movement. Use your abdominal muscles to draw the wheel back until your hips are stacked over your knees and the roller is under your shoulders.

  1. Tip: Brace your core and slightly tuck your pelvis to protect your lower back.

Repeat for up to 10 repetitions, for three sets, once or twice a week. Scale back as needed to allow for good form and ample recovery.

As your skill improves, allow the wheel to track side to side instead of only straight ahead.

If you don’t have access to an Ab Wheel or Ab Dolly, you can still get the benefits of ab-rolling with these common gym tools:

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