Tested: Abdominal Roller/Wheel

The product I like to refer to as the “ab wheel” has been around for years, probably long before I was born. It’s simple yet extremely effective. As some of the best exercises are.

levi using ab wheel

The ab wheel is just a wheel on a stick. No more, no less. They are cheap and you can build one yourself for a few dollars, or for free if you can find the parts lying around. A plastic one may cost $10, and a free one could be built from a piece of pipe stuck through an old wheelbarrow wheel!

The main exercise is simple – kneel down with the wheel in front of you, roll out until you are stretched out, and then roll back. It will hurt! You may just collapse if you roll out too far, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. It is almost a full-body exercise; it really works your arms, abs, and back.

Contract your abs the whole time to keep good posture, and remember to breathe.

There’s also a fancy ab wheel out there… it’s called the Power Wheel. With the PowerWheel, you strap your feet in and then roll your feet out while your arms stay in one spot. It costs $60, but it will probably last quite a while and will surely give you a good workout. I may review one in the future.

Ab Wheel In Use!

Here’s a video demonstration of how to use the ab wheel:

My final verdict is…

I highly suggest you get one of these. Whether you buy it or build it, get one and use it!

And when you start to use it, go slow. Only do a few repetitions the first time – you’ll feel it the next day!

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15 Comments so far

  1. Scot on February 23rd, 2009

    i heard youre NOT supposed to rest when youre all the way extended, you should go out and come back in one fluid motion, not stop half way through.

  2. Levi on February 25th, 2009

    @Scot

    It would be impossible to do the ab roll out in one motion. Since you have to change direction (from forward to backward,) there simply has to be a pause.

    The pause is only a quarter second or so, though.

    In the video when I mention “hold” the stretched out position, I simply mean to hold your body in that position without it dropping to the floor. Do not actually hold the position like an isometric exercise!

  3. Jed on April 8th, 2009

    Hello Levi,it’s my first time being on your site and i have been hearing about ab wheels for a very long time now(for about 2 years)but i just brush it off when it comes to buying workout equipment. But now.. i’m considering buying some workout equipments i can use on anywhere,do you think the ab wheel is compact or portable enough to be brought on the road?

  4. Levi on April 9th, 2009

    @Jed

    The ab wheel is probably the second most portable device. (Resistance bands and a jump rope would tie for first.)

    The ab wheel is plenty light to carry around, but just a little awkward to pack up due to the shape (it’s pointy, rather than being a perfect circle or square.)

  5. Jed on April 13th, 2009

    Hey Levi,thanks for the reply. I have some questions again,I’m considering to buy either ab wheel or ab strap right now.. which do you think will give me the best workout? and does the ab wheel really works the back?

  6. Levi on April 14th, 2009

    I would definitely get the ab wheel. It’s a complete upper body workout.

    Ab straps are unnecessary. If you have a pull-up bar, you don’t need anything extra for doing hanging leg lifts.

  7. brett on April 17th, 2009

    hey, i just wanted to put my two cents in. i have been using an ab wheel for about 6 – 7 years. i am 38 years old and have a 6 pack abs. it is great. don’t start out with a lot. it will kill you. and if you stop for a week or two…. go back down on your reps, otherwise it will kill you. but if you keep it up, it only takes about 5 minute in your work out (4 sets of 25 does it for me, but that is a lot for anyone). and i only work out about 4 – 5 times a week. it does help out a whole lot with your lower back. i have bad legs and can’t lift (medical reasons – rodes in my legs) with my legs, so i have to lift wiht my back (no choice), and the ab wheel work great for that. if i don’ work out with the ab wheel i feel a lot more back pain because i have to lift with my back. so, if you have lower back pain, i would recomend it. of course i recomend the ab wheel to anyone who askes, or says what do you do to get those type of abs. situps and crunches i can do all day, but the ab wheel is where it is at.

  8. Levi on April 17th, 2009

    Thanks for the input Brett. The ab wheel is the way to go for sure!

  9. evelyn on April 27th, 2010

    I have been running on my treadmill for about 1 yr now and my body is firm but my ab is really soft. I bought an ab wheel and began using it about 1 weeks now. I already can feel the difference. Besides the Pain, I feel strong in my core.

  10. Matt on May 4th, 2010

    This is an excellent exercise that works various muscles in arms, back, lats and abs. To put the emphasize on abs, do not use your arms when coming back, otherwise the emphasize of the workout will be on back and lats. If you do not feel the burn in abs then the form is incorrect.
    Also for reverse style, instead of spending $60 for the fancy version, you can purchase one of those mini skateboards at Wal-Mart, put your shoes on and then place your toes on the skateboard while your palms or fists/knuckles are placed on the ground and then pull your feet towards your chest without bending the knees as your buttocks go up. If that is too intense then try bending the knees 90 degrees and the do the same.

  11. Raz on May 5th, 2010

    Hi. I bought an ab wheel not too long ago but was already familiar with it. My perception before i bought it was that it would help me mostly with theabs, but as I started using it I did realize that it was a full body workout (I feel mostly my upper body).

    In addition I feel however that my lower back works a lot more than my abs… Does everyone elser feel that as well? Is that maybe typical in the beginning until I strenghten my core?
    Thanks.

  12. Fernando on June 21st, 2010

    hey im running 3 miles a day and working with the ab wheel i do like (15 or 10eachday)for 5days!
    im 17 and (5’3) weight 137 do u think thats enough to get a six pack in 30 days?

  13. Levi on June 22nd, 2010

    @Fernando

    All I can say is “it depends.” Getting a six pack isn’t as easy as doing some running and ab exercises (if you don’t already have one thanks to genetics.) It’s different for everyone and a huge part of it is your diet.

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