What Muscles Do Ab Rollers Work & How to Use It For a Killer Workout?

Written by Victor

Updated on:

man exercising his core with an ab roller

The ab roller wheels effectively target the following muscle groups: The rectus abdominis, erector spinae, transverse abdominis, chest, and biceps. This may sound like a lot of muscles for such a small piece of equipment, but at least you know why many people use them.

Ab rollers aren’t only small; they are also easy to use. In this article, we’ll look at what muscles work, how they work those muscles, and how to build abs fast with your ab roller.

What Is An Ab Roller?

An ab roller wheel is a simple yet effective low-tech piece of equipment trainers and athletes use to train and get fit. The ab roller is a wheel with a rod running through its center that you can hold. You’d have to place your hands on either side of the wheel to use an ab roller.

Many think ab rollers are ab crunch machines— but they are not. Here’s a list of the best ab crunch machines on the market.

Muscles Worked By Ab Rollers

Here are the muscle groups worked by an ab roller:

  • Hips
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Transverse abdominis

Reasons Why Ab Wheel Rollouts Are So Effective

Nothing good comes easy— the same goes for the ab roller. It may look small, but using it to work out is difficult. To use the roller effectively, you need to extend yourself in a plank position. 

Since the roller has wheels, you’d be turned to a moving wheel, which would be painful. However, it can be effective because you engage all your core muscles at once with the plank motion.

Like the name implies, ab rollers help you get your abs tight. Ab rollers target the hip flexor muscles and transverse abdominis muscles. These are the primary muscles worked by the ab roller. 

To perform the wheel exercise well, you would have to build up your core muscles— if you don’t, you won’t progress well with the exercise. That’s why it’s crucial you start slowly so that you can work up the muscles needed to go the full stretch.

woman exercising outdoors with an ab roller

The rolling out part of the wheel rollout helps work your deltoids and lats, while the rolling in portion is what takes a chunk of your core strength. It’s easy to assume that the range of motion needed for ab rollouts only requires core muscle strength. 

But that’s far from the truth – a good rollout also requires great synchronization. To perform an effective rollout, you need to be good at controlling the movement between your flexors and shoulder muscles. The fact that you also have to balance on the wheel makes the rollout even more difficult— but that’s what makes it so effective.

If you don’t have an ab roller and you’d like to get one, here’s a list of the best ab rollers on the market. Or if you think ab rolling or sit-ups are too difficult, check out this ab muscle stimulator.

How To Perform An Ab Wheel Rollout

The ab wheel rollout is an exceedingly difficult exercise. It’s so difficult that most people can’t begin with it immediately. Some can’t even do it at all without a personal trainer. People usually have to start with something minor to work their muscles up.

Stage I: Stability Ball Rollout

Start by kneeling with your legs hip-width apart. Put your elbows on a stability ball, and make sure your muscles are firm.

As you roll forward, extend your arms slowly. As you do this, the ball will roll from directly beneath you to right in front of you.

Roll the ball back and continue this for about 10 to 15 reps. Once you can go 15 reps without getting too tired, add one more set and work your way up until you can do fifteen reps per set thrice.

Stage 2; Kneeling Ab-Wheel Rollout

woman doing abdominal exercises

Position your knees on the floor at hip-width. Make sure your hands are gripping the wheel. Keep your core engaged and prevent arching your lower back.

Next, roll the wheel forward as far as you can. This should be done with your arms extended and your chest to the ground. This requires great upper body strength as you may have to support your entire body weight, but you can do it.

Afterward, roll the wheel underneath your body. Remember, this is supposed to be hard work, so don’t despair if it feels very tough.

If you can perform three sets of five to eight reps of this, you’ll gradually feel your abs getting toned. Only people who can train abs every two days this way will be able to move on to the last stage.

Full Ab Rollout

This is the most difficult level of the wheel exercise. Instead of starting in a kneeling position, you’ll start in a full push-up position.

In this position, try to hold the wheel beneath your shoulders. Once in this position, push the wheel in front of your body slowly.

After this, bring the wheel back beneath your shoulders. Remember that this wheel work isn’t meant to be easy. But if you manage to get it done, it’ll get your abs tight in no time.

The ab roller is a small piece of equipment that can bring considerable changes to your body— especially your abs. 

Don’t go all-in into working with the roller without building up the stability and stamina that would help you use the roller effectively. If you can do that, you’ll see results from using the ab roller in no time.