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The ab roller has been around for over 20 years now, but it can often be overlooked as a serious workout tool, when in fact, it’s a fantastic piece of equipment.
An ab roller is one of the best ways to work out not only your abs but your entire core and the majority of your upper half. When used correctly, you’ll find yourself reaping the benefits of a solid abdominal workout.
Aside from being relatively inexpensive, ab rollers make for a great part of your gym or home workout – and are ideal for targeting and strengthening your abs if that’s your goal.
Whether you’re already using an ab roller on the regular or you’re looking to incorporate one into your routine, there’s plenty to learn and discover. Read on to find out all you could need to know about the ab roller!
Table of Contents
Is the Ab Roller Better Than Sit-Ups?
To use an ab roller, or to keep going with sit-ups? It’s one of the great workout debates.
While both ab rollers and sit-ups are sure to give you a good workout and improve your abdominal strength, they work in different ways.
Sit-ups target solely your abdominal muscles, whilst ab rollers do this and work on your entire core and upper body at the same time, targeting far more muscles as you exercise (up to 20 at a time!).
An ab rollout will engage your core, abs, lower back muscles, obliques, arms, shoulders, and spinal erectors at the same time – the same can’t be said for a sit-up or a crunch.
Having said that, ab rollers are also considered to be a more difficult exercise to pull off. An ab rollout requires stability and basic core strength – so if you’re a beginner, it’s recommended that you start with doing sit-ups before moving on to an ab roller.
Is An Ab Wheel Alone Enough For A Complete Ab Workout?
When used correctly, an ab roller will provide you with a well-rounded abdominal workout – which many would say is more than sufficient for your abs.
Ab rollers build up your core strength and stability and will tone your abdomen. Not only do they target all the muscles in your abdomen, but they’re also great for your back and arms – giving your entire upper body a workout at the same time.
There are several variations of exercises that you can complete with an ab roller, from the basic kneeling rollout to a full standing set. Each of these works the body well and can be switched up and alternated to provide you with variations as you exercise.
If you keep up with a healthy diet, it’s said that ab wheel rollouts can give you a far better workout than traditional abdominal exercises.
Why Are Ab Rollers So Hard to Use Though?
While ab rollers may look relatively simple to use, they’re actually a lot trickier and more strenuous than you might think.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to build up your core strength with more basic exercises before deciding to move on to using an ab roller – it can be a little intimidating if your abdominal muscles are weak.
The reason that many people may find ab rollers so difficult to use is that they not only work the muscles deep in your abdomen, but the movement of a rollout is also tricky to get the hang of. An ab rollout requires you to use many muscles simultaneously, and it’s important to use a full range of movements when doing so.
If you want to perform a set of ab rollouts correctly, you’ll be required to use both core strength and upper body strength – as well as balance. You may also have to build up to your workout over time, as a full set of rollouts can take quite a toll on your body.
The use of an ab roller in itself can also be a little tricky to get the hang of. The tool is relatively small, and your entire body weight must be supported on the handles – not to mention, good balance is essential.
Nevertheless, once you’ve got the hang of it – you won’t look back!
Are Ab Rollouts Bad For Your Back?
When used correctly, ab rollers can be a great workout tool. When used improperly, however, they may cause a strain or an injury to your lower back.
In most cases, this happens when rollouts are performed with an improper form. A correct and effective ab rollout should have your core constantly engaged. If this isn’t the case, the strain of the exercise will be misdirected to your back and spine.
To avoid this happening, it’s important to always begin your workout with a warm-up. When performing your rollouts, make sure that you regulate your breathing, take deep breaths, and clench your core. Try to ensure that your roller is placed directly under your shoulders before you start, as well as checking that your hips and shoulders are aligned as they would be when planking.
If your hips are dipping, or your spine is arching – your form is wrong. All of the tension will be taken away from your abs and can cause a back injury.
In the instance that you’ve already started working out with an ab roller and are finding yourself with back pain despite following proper form, this may be due to the fact that your core is not yet strong enough. Try other ab exercises such as sit-ups and crunches to strengthen your abs before trying again with an ab roller.
On a brighter note, it’s been proven that developing and strengthening your core will not only help you tone your abs but will also lead to improved posture – which can actually prevent back pain from occurring!
Can Using An Ab Roller Cause a Hernia?
In some cases, strenuous exercise or immense pressure against the abdominal wall can cause a hernia. Other factors such as your family history, core weakness, poor nutrition, and being overweight can also contribute to the risk.
Unfortunately, hernias are a more common injury than you may have expected.
As with most abdominal workouts, improper form and posture can always pose a risk of an injury of some form, and may even lead to a hernia. While a hernia isn’t usually overly dangerous or life-threatening, it can be very painful and usually requires surgery to fix.
Hernias may occur due to an ab workout because when the abdominal muscles contract, pressure is created in the abdomen. This can worsen if you hold your breath when exercising.
In most cases, however, these are caused by either a weak or damaged muscle in the abdomen, an incorrectly performed exercise, or forcing a rollout too far. When used correctly, the risk of developing a hernia when using an ab roller is very low.
How Can I Get Over Ab Wheel DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is something that most people are likely familiar with. DOMS is a muscle pain that occurs following a workout, typically a day or two after.
It’s very common, especially if you’re new to the ab wheel or have performed a high-powered workout with it.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to ease any discomfort and speed up the recovery process. A good night’s sleep after your workout can do wonders, and it’s also recommended that you stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
Make sure that you continue with your daily activities and move about. It may feel tempting to stay in bed, but it’ll be far better for you to go for a walk, do yoga, or even go for a swim.
Keep the body moving and the blood flowing to your muscles. If the pain is really bad, you can even try using a cream or balm to help – or have an Epsom salt bath to help relax the muscles.
In the future, keep in mind that a proper warm-up before your workout will do you wonders. Don’t push yourself past your limits, take the time to keep hydrated throughout, and over time you should see your body progressing and DOMS should occur less frequently.
Stuart Patrick is a health and fitness lifestyle journalist who writes for ListedFit.com.
“I've spent a lot of time trying to get in shape and change my body and I realised there are so many untruths in the health and fitness industry that can slow down or stop your progress, so I share my knowledge and experience to help others to cut through the BS.”
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