The ab wheel rollout is one of many great anti-extension exercises you can do, and has a fantastic carryover to the pull-up as it develops the lumbo-pelvic stability (and full body tension) that is needed to perform the pull-up efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, most people do not perform ab wheel rollouts correctly, or anywhere close.
Here are some tips that will help you excel at performing ab wheel rollouts. While I am performing a more advanced variation from my feet, start out by performing the regressed version where you are on your knees. I have included this video in my blog (link below).
- Grab onto the roller. In the starting position, your body should be in a plank position and in a straight line from your head to heels. Your head, torso and hips should be in a stacked position, your chin should be tucked, and your shoulders should be directly above your hands.
- Before you perform the rollout, take a deep breath in through your nose (360 degrees of air around your spine), contract the muscles of your anterior core as hard as you can, tuck your ribcage towards your hips, and squeeze your glutes. This will help stabilize your pelvis and spine.
- Now perform the rollout. Roll the wheel forward and extend your arms as much as you can, WHILE maintaining proper form. As you extend your arms and the wheel travels forward, your entire body should remain in a fixed position. Once you've reached YOUR full range, return to the starting position. While you are doing so, slowly exhale through your teeth.
- Reset before each rep.
- It is imperative that you do not allow your lower back to hyperextend, or your ribcage to flare. This defeats the entire purpose of the exercise. Also, do not allow your hips to pike, or your head to collapse. Your body should remain in the plank position for the duration of the exercise, and you must maintain your full body tension. Do not allow your muscles to disengage at any point.
You can make this exercise easier by performing the exercise from your knees (see blog for video), and shortening the range of each rollout. You can also perform rollouts on a stability ball as this is much easier.
You can make this exercise more challenging by increasing the range of each rollout, elevating your feet on a box, or adding resistance in the form of a band, weight, or chains.