Have you decided to free some room for a home gym? If so, you’re doing the right thing, especially given how sedentary we are these days.
One great tool you could purchase for a home gym area is an ab roller wheel, a highly effective piece of fitness equipment when it comes to ab training (and also back, arm, and leg training to some extent).
With that said, if you use this handy tool incorrectly, you are very likely to injure yourself.
How To Use Your Ab Roller Wheel Correctly
Below, we would like to talk about the key points of correct ab roller wheel use. These are fairly straightforward, but newbies often don’t have the intuition to determine whether they are doing something wrong.
Use a knee protection mat
The first thing you need to think about before you begin to exercise with the ab roller wheel is your knees. Beginners often perform ab roller exercises from their knees, and you don’t want to place your knees on a hard floor, do you?
Some ab roller sellers include protective mats with their ab rollers for knee protection. If the mat is of good quality and fulfills the task adequately, then the first point is completed. Otherwise, you will have to look up a knee mat separately.
Once you switch from knees to your feet, you won’t need any kind of mat. However, it will take some time for you to build sufficient core strength to be able to do ab roller exercises with extended legs.
Start from the simplest exercises
You should start with the simplest exercises. You need to increase the load gradually to avoid injury and prepare your muscles, joints, and ligaments for more challenging exercises.
You have probably seen an ad or two featuring ab roller wheel exercises. Well, if you see a complex exercise, then it’s likely performed by someone who has been training for months and years to become fit enough for it.
Be patient and disciplined and do not rush onto too challenging exercises from the get-go. Don’t overestimate your abilities either.
Warm up first
Regular core exercises like crunches require little to no warmup. Moreover, crunches are often used as a warmup exercise!
The same doesn’t really apply to ab roller exercises. At least, it doesn’t apply to complex movements. If you have healthy and pain-free joints and muscles, then you may do ab roller wheel extensions from the knees with a little warmup. We still suggest that you do light arm and shoulder warmups since these will be heavily used in ab roller movements.
But if performing complex exercises, do remember to warm up first. Pay special attention to your back and arm muscles.
Pay attention to your back position
Finally, you should pay close attention to the position of your back when doing exercises with your ab roller wheel. Aside from your shoulders, the back is perhaps the most vulnerable part of your body when performing ab roller movements.
The video below describes in some detail how to do the exercises correctly using the Ab Roller Wheel.
HOW TO DO AB WHEEL EXTENSION – Do This Exercise RIGHT and See CRAZY Results!
For beginners, experienced users recommend having a wall in front as a barrier to prevent an unprepared body from descending dangerously low and overextending the lower back. Aside from preventing injury, a wall would also allow you to learn the proper range of motion for ab roller exercises.
Do remember that you need to maintain your core tension throughout the entire range of motion. If you didn’t know, the core comprises your ab muscles. Some people consider back muscles – particularly the lower back – core muscles as well.
Ab Roller Wheel Expertise Stages
We also want to talk about the so to say “stages” of ab roller wheel expertise. Below, we have kind of a guideline on the gradual process of becoming better at ab roller exercises and increasing their difficulty.
At the first stage, you need to learn to maintain the position of your shoulders throughout the range of motion.
To work out the first stage, you should begin closer to the wall and progressively go farther and farther away from it as your shoulders become fit enough to maintain their position.
While you may allow some movement in the shoulders, remember that they should be as motionless as possible.
On one hand, by keeping your shoulders motionless, you will ensure that you are not assisting yourself with your shoulder and chest muscles. On the other hand, you will also safeguard yourself from injuries.
Then comes the development of your back – that is, learning how to keep it in a correct position.
We’ve already mentioned how your back should be – it shouldn’t be overextended (overarched), and you should maintain tension in your back throughout the entire range of motion.
At the third and final stage, you should be able to perform ab roller wheel exercise without a wall acting as a barrier.
Since there are no walls to limit your extension, you need to remember not to overextend. A rule of thumb is that if your belly touches the floor earlier than your nose, then you are doing the exercise incorrectly. If your belly is lower than your nose, it means that you are overarching your back.
Besides, it means that your back isn’t strong enough to maintain its position.
Some athletes think that abs work in strength exercises and that additional exercises for ab training thus are not necessary. This is partly true, but it depends on what your training goals are.
During the squat, deadlift, and bench press, your core (back and ab muscles) is working in a static mode. It maintains its tension throughout the whole range of motion to ensure that your spine position is maintained and injuries are avoided.
What this means is that crunches, ab roller exercises, and other ab exercises won’t carry over to your strength movements directly. Not only that but maintaining tension in the core is sometimes more about skill than strength.
With that said, ab exercises should be used as a supplement to your main movements. They may not impact your ability to keep your core under tension during squats or deadlifts directly, but they should make it easier for you to do so.
Aside from that, you would absolutely do plenty of ab exercises if your goal was to specifically train your abs to make them more pronounced. However, here comes another issue – body fat. And body fat, if you didn’t know, is dealt with in the kitchen (that is, with dietary changes) and endurance exercises.
Read also: Ab Roller Wheel for use in the home gym