At PaleoFit, we’re not usually obsessed with the next big piece of must have equipment in the fitness world. We’re not big on Thigh-masters, weird horse riding machines, or sauna pants (yes, those are real things). Sometimes, though, there are simple, yet effective tools that have enough value that it’s worth a trip to Amazon.com.
This simple piece of equipment truly is the epitome of simple ab training. What I like about the ab wheel most, is that it builds true stability in the spine and through the entire torso, while having immediate feedback to be sure that you’re turning your glutes on as well.
The ab wheel seems simple enough, so simple that you wonder if it’s just another gimmick. It’s not, let me assure you. Doing 50 of these will leave you feeling sore for days!
We’ll outline the basics of use for the ab wheel here, as well as proper ways to scale the movement for those of us who find it super challenging.
On Your Knees
For the vast majority of beginners, starting on your knees will be the prefered method. You may want to find a pillow, or piece of foam to place under your knees.
Tuck The Butt
Similar to when we do a glute bridge. you will want to rotate the hips “under” or tilt the pelvis before you even start this movement. You can also think of the scared cat posture, or, my favorite, a dog taking a poo. If you DON’T do this, you will feel it immediately in your lower back as you extend out for your first reps.
Keeping your butt in and tight, and hips tucked will both turn on the glutes, and support your lower back. THIS IS KEY for the movement!
Move The Hips First!
Once you’re nice and tucked up and braced with your butt squeezed, extend your hips so that there is a straight line from shoulder to hip to knee. If you were to pause at this position, you would have your hips and knees extended, while the wheel is directly underneath the shoulders. This transition position will be hit on both the way out and the way back.
By moving the hips first, you will prevent yourself from over-reaching and putting yourself into a position where your hips are out of alignment, thus preventing pain in your lower back.
Once again, for this movement, sharp pain in your lower back is a sign that you’re out of alignment, and you need to reset!
Extend The Arms
The extension of the arms will vary depending on your core strength. For the more advanced, you may be able to touch your chest to the ground. For the rest of us, we may find it helpful to use some kind of stopper to provide support and control where the ab wheel stops.
Over time, you can push the stopper out away from you, so that you are getting lower and lower as you go.
Return To The Start
Now that you’ve gotten all the way out to position, you have to come back! Do this by pulling your arms back underneath you (use your lats!) until the wheel is back under your shoulders, then return to the cat position with your hips. DON’T MOVE YOUR HIPS FIRST! If you do, there is a LARGE chance that you’ve gotten your hips out of position, and your glutes are all turned off.
Many people will report that initially, they feel this much more in their arms than anywhere else. If that’s where your weakness lies, that could very well be the case. As you get stronger, however, you’ll find that this provides a midline (ab) workout that is really hard to match. It will also help your hollow rock/hollow hold tremendously.
Try it, and report back to me how sore you are the next day! ;)