The ab wheel has been around my entire life. I remember seeing them around as kid in the 1970s. I remember when I first started working out I would see them in the corner of the gym and ignore them. Mostly because I wanted to use the very expensive ( and useless) abdominal machines and how could a $3 toy be more effective than a $3000 machine?Many people train the abs by loading flexion and rotation. Though training loaded movements are not bad, doing them on a machine usually isn’t the top choice for abs. Training the abdominal with anti-rotation and anti-flexion movements have a huge benefit. If you stand tall and start to lean backwards into back extension you will feel your abdominals tighten and starting to resist hyper extension. There are tons of ways to train these movements. The abdominal wheel is more advanced than a plank, so if someone can’t hold a solid plank for 15-20 seconds then they shouldn’t be using the abdominal wheel. The ab wheel pretty much picks up where the plank leaves off. The core’s main responsibility is to stabilize in times of change. For a beginner, the plank is challenging because it is resisting the weight of the body, but as you become more conditioned the plank doesn’t offer the same challenge. Adding the wheel causes you to have to adapt and maintain position under a time of change. The important part is to do this correctly.If you watched my video on the plank the same principles apply to the ab wheel. The lower lumbar should be neutral and not hyper flexed or rounded, the ribs should not be flared, but be down, and hip and ribs should be in alignment with one another. As the movement begins, the shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees should all be in a strait line with one another and they should not lose this position throughout the exercise. As the arms reach out the hips need to descend at the same rate. If the back starts to dip or the buttocks end up being up the air with a big angle the rest of the body, the movement should be started over. So many people think they need to get their face down to the ground and flatten out, but that is not the case. Some people will only roll the wheel out a few inches and start to feel a ton of contraction in the abdominals. As you become stronger the depth will increase, but increasing the depth of the movement at the expense of the lower back is A) not doing the the movement correctly and B) increasing the risk of hurting the lower back.
Conducting 3 clean reps with the ab wheel is better than 10 poorly done reps. Again if you are going to do something, do it right or you are wasting your time. Doing this exercise incorrectly will do more harm than good.
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