You want the benefits of doing ab rollout exercises but either don’t have access to an ab wheel, or you just don't enjoy doing them. The ab rollout primarily targets your core muscles but also works your back and shoulder muscles too. If you're looking for a great ab rollout alternative, we've rounded up nine substitutes for you to try.
Table of Contents
- 9 Best Ab Wheel Alternatives (For Challenging Your Core)
- Benefits Of Alternative Exercises Rather Than Using Ab Wheels
- Common Ab Wheel Rollout Questions
9 Best Ab Wheel Alternatives (For Challenging Your Core)
Although the ab wheel is excellent for working your rectus abdominis and obliques, it can place significant pressure on your lower back. Additionally, having a weak core or tight hip flexors can make this exercise too challenging. Whatever your reason for avoiding the ab wheel, we’ve rounded up nine substitutes that will help you to achieve a similar workout.
1. Barbell Rollout
The barbell rollout mimics the movement of an ab wheel closely. While this alternative exercise is very similar, it’s ideal for those who require more stability and balance when doing ab rollouts. The benefit of this exercise includes reducing strain on the shoulders, thanks to a wider grip on the barbell.
Additionally, the wide grip forces you to use your abs (rather than your arms) to bring yourself back in. The downside of this exercise is that a large amount of space is required, and you'll need a barbell with some weight plates too.
Related Article - Types Of Barbells - Which Is Suitable For Rollouts?
How To Do A Barbell Rollout:
2. Towel Rollout
The towel rollout is an excellent alternative for those who don’t have access to a barbell. This exercise requires only a gym towel and a smooth floor surface, making it an ideal at-home workout. It should be noted that this is a rather challenging alternative exercise but can be adjusted to suit your strength level.
If you’re not able to perform a standard towel rollout, start with a towel pull-in. Once you’ve built up enough strength, you can transition over to a standard towel rollout. For a towel pull-in, you’ll position yourself in a standard plank pose with your toes on the towel. Next, you’ll drive your knees in toward your chest and slide back out again.
How To Do A Towel Rollout:
3. Plank Walkouts
There are many variations of a plank walkout available, but we're going to be doing the most core-focused option. Plank walkouts are the perfect beginner exercise and don't require a large amount of space to execute.
Additionally, as your strength improves, they can be slightly adjusted to increase the difficulty. This workout offers more control compared with an ab wheel, and it helps to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the hips and shoulders.
How To Do Plank Walkouts:
Related Article - 8 Best Side Plank Alternatives
4. TRX Roll Out
If you have access to a TRX System, then this ab wheel alternative is a must-try! The TRX roll out requires both core and arm strength and can be adjusted according to your strength level. Positioning yourself closer to the TRX straps makes the exercises easier, while positioning yourself further out will make it harder.
Related Article - 5 Best TRX Alternatives
How To Do A TRX Roll Out:
5. TRX Pike
Another alternative exercise that uses a TRX System is the TRX pike. This one is slightly more challenging than the TRX roll out but works the entire abdominal wall. However, it does require good upper body strength and stabilization.
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How To Do A TRX Pike:
The plank exercise is a simple yet effective core-focused exercise. It requires no equipment and can be tailored to suit your skill level by adjusting the time spent holding the plank pose.
Like an ab rollout, the plank offers an anti-extension workout. This type of workout helps to keep your spine in a neutral position, which not only helps to strengthen your back muscles but also helps to limit injuries caused by overextension.
How To Do A Plank:
7. Stability Ball Iso Ab Rollout
There are two variations of the stability ball ab rollout. We recommend the iso (isometric) ab rollout variant as it engages the abs in the same way. However, the reduced range of motion offers more tension on the abs, resulting in a more effective ab workout.
This exercise is much easier to do than compared with ab wheel roll outs, making them ideal for beginners still building up their strength. Find a best seller below!
How To Do A Stability Ball Iso Ab Rollout:
8. Cable Crunch
Cable crunches are an excellent ab workout that lets you adjust the resistance, making them far better than regular crunches. This is thanks to the heavier weight, which enables you to train to failure with fewer reps. However, it's important to ensure the correct form when doing this exercise, as an incorrect form can negate all of the advantages of this exercise.
How To Do A Cable Crunch:
9. Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises are great for improving overall core strength, spine health, and mobility. This exercise primarily targets the abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis and the obliques), as well as the hip flexors.
Additionally, hanging leg raises help to improve your grip and shoulder strength too. To get the most out of this exercise, use controlled movements and avoid swinging your body. If you find hanging too difficult, you can opt for a power tower instead.
Related Article - Power Tower Workout Routines
How To Do Hanging Leg Raises:
Benefits Of Alternative Exercises Rather Than Using Ab Wheels
There are many reasons why people should consider alternative exercises rather than using ab wheels. While ab wheels offer a great core workout, they do have their drawbacks. The most common mistake people make when using an ab wheel is improper form. This includes using their arms (instead of their abs) to pull themselves back in.
Additionally, many people tend to bend their arms during the movement. This reduces the tension placed on the abdominals, causing a less effective workout. Another common mistake people make is to arch their back. This places significant strain on the lower back and can cause serious injury.
Using an ab wheel can be tricky if you don’t have the required strength needed to extend and return. Our alternative exercises allow you to modify the workout to suit your strength level and slowly progress from there. In doing so, you’re far less likely to injure yourself, and you're still able to target your abdominal muscles effectively.
Common Ab Wheel Rollout Questions
Is the ab wheel better than sit-ups?
Yes, an ab wheel exercise targets your entire core and upper body muscles, while sit-ups will only target your abdominals. Additionally, an ab rollout provides an anti-extension exercise. This helps to build the muscles around your spine and is better for functional fitness as well.
Can an ab roller alone give you a six-pack?
Simply put - no. While an ab roller offers excellent abdominal muscle training, this alone is not going to give you a visible six-pack. Ab workouts can help make your muscles stronger and slightly larger, but ultimately, it's your body fat percentage that will determine how visible your abs are.
Should rollouts and regular abs both be part of a training program?
Yes, you should incorporate a varied training program and avoid doing the same exercises every day. Although ab rollouts do target the rectus abdominis (your abs), it’s best not to train them using the same range of motion every time. An effective ab training program incorporates various movements that target more than just your ab muscles.
That wraps up our comprehensive guide to the best ab wheel alternatives. Now that you know the benefits of these substitutes, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and build your strength - without needing an ab wheel.
Our nine substitute exercises provided will help you train your core and achieve your goals in no time!
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