Not A Child’s Play: Ab Wheel
A toned belly is what everybody wants. But, most people often misunderstand that a flat stomach is more related to a strong core than a flat belly. The stronger your core gets, the more fat you will burn automatically. For increasing the strength of the abdomen along with shedding those accumulated calories, the ab wheel is great equipment. This simple looking device does wonder when used efficiently and in the correct manner.
The two handles connecting a wheel may seem a tool which is easy to work with, but that is certainly not the case. Working with this equipment involves complete body strength, the arms, the core, the legs and what not. Along with that the control that one needs while training with an ab wheel is another challenge altogether. Shalini Bhargava who is a fitness expert and the director of JG’s Fitness Centre also seconds the fact and says, “As you put your entire body weight on the equipment while exercising, you should take care that the ab wheel is in complete control of you, lest you will fall on the face.” She adds, “Also, you have to synchronise both the lower and the upper abs while you have good control from your hip flexors to your shoulders.”
Now, let’s take a look at exactly what happens to the muscles of the body while working out with an ab roller. While rolling in or rolling out, your body weight transfers on the upper body, especially the arms. The biceps take the charge of controlling the wheel, while the legs at the back including the hamstrings and gluteus maximus stretch to the full creating optimum pressure on the upper and lower core of the body. It basically is an extension to the plank position, but a moving one. Every muscle involved in this process needs to work in sync, without breaking the chain.
However, while performing a roll-out or roll in one should take note of a few things which can turn out to be very harmful, if done incorrectly. “When working out with an ab wheel, focus on the form and movement, because if done wrong, ab wheels can stain your lower back and stress out joints,” says Luke Coutinho, Adviser of Integrative Lifestyle & Nutrition at Purenutrition.me. The moment your lower back turns into an arch, the exercise loses its effect. It has to be a straight plank, or you can choose to roll out, as much as your body can take control of. Secondly, if you find yourself hurt or feel any kind of pain, make sure to relieve yourself of that, then start working out all over again.
Here are some step-by-step tips from Luke, that you can follow in order to perform each movement in a better way:
Breathe: Similar to any other exercise, breathing is of importance while training with an ab wheel too. Breathe in as you roll out. Exhale as you roll in tightening the upper and lower ab muscles. Breathe steadily through your nose with each rep.
Start Under Shoulders
To gain maximum productivity off each repetition and keep your core engaged, always begin your rep under your shoulders. Your rollout should begin and end in this position in each rep.
Hips Don’t Help
Do not use your hips to shoot yourself forward when you roll out. In doing so, you activate your hips, causing the lower back to arch, taking the tension away from the abdominal muscles. Keeping the hips bent throughout the motion can help you counter this and maintain tension on the core.
If you are just a beginner who is using ab wheels, I would suggest you do not exert yourself doing the full range of motion when rolling out. Extend the rollout only as far as you can control. With time and practice, your range will get better.
An ab roller primarily works on your core muscles (technically known as rectus abdominis) however, it can help in building the muscles of other body parts as well. Because of the immense control involved, it has a great impact on the legs, hands, core, shoulders and back. Listed below are a few exercises suggested by Shalini, that one can perform if they are willing to extract an overall effect, and not only on the core. This will not only help you achieve your desired body but would also be fun because of the involvement of various other workout units like a resistance band, dumbells and more.
Working with Weights: A common form is wearing a weight vest and then rolling using the abs wheel which will make you push that extra weight as well, that you are wearing on you. This ensures that each and every muscle in the hands and the legs feel the pinch as they have to exert to their maximum to push the weight.
Working with Bands: In this, you attach bands to the handles of the wheel and start with the workout. Now, when you have bands, they tend to push you to the desired position rather fast and hence, the exercise here is to activate stress that will stop you from getting pushed. Stress applied in the hand muscles thus help work on the biceps and triceps.
Pairing with a partner: Here, the partner pushes one to a rollout and one has to apply efforts to restrict the speed that is rushing in because of the outside push. In this, one has to particularly apply more pressure to the hip areas so that the rollout is not pacey and is in a controlled fashion.
BOSU Ball workout: With the BOSU ball workout, start to roll out, stretch and roll again but with a twist. There is an angle created with the knees being placed on the BOSU ball. This helps in tightening the leg muscles and abs.