Roughly two years ago my wife went on a cheap-exercise-equipment-buying binge. One can obtain any item on Tao Bao, the Chinese equivalent (though much better version, if you know Chinese) of Amazon with a touch of Ebay. She found the Ab Wheel.
“Is a roller a good exercise to do?” she asked me.
“Absolutely, but it is very difficult. Definitely not as easy as it seems,” I replied.
Within a week a courier delivered our new roller/abdominal (ab) wheel. My daughter had been visiting us to attend our wedding. Excitement filled the air as the desire to try the new exercise equipment escalated. I demonstrated how to use the roller; I started from a kneeling position for two reasons: 1) I knew that neither my wife nor my daughter could successfully complete the exercise from the standing position, and 2) I knew that I could not successfully complete the exercise from the standing position. Each of us would fall flat on our faces if we attempted the standing roller exercise. We placed a folded up towel on the ground to cushion our knees during the exercise. I struggled to complete ten reps fully extended with only my knees and the roller touching the ground, but I did not fall flat on my face.
My wife tried the basic exercise. “Roll the roller out farther,” I encouraged. “You look more like an arch than a board. Your body has to be more like a board…flat.”
“I’ll fall if I do that!” She said.
“Try,” I encouraged a little bit more enthusiastically.
She tried and her whole body thumped on the ground. We all had a really good laugh.
I show them the exercise one last time. I luckily did not fall this eleventh and final time.
My daughter tried the exercise with the same result as my wife: she got to a certain point and fell with a thump. It showed us just how difficult this exercise truly is. Here I am demonstrating the ab wheel from the kneeling position.
Incorporating The Ab Wheel into Our Program
We used it on and off for the next two years. My wife got to where she could do ten reps with pretty good form in the kneeling position. I got to where I could do three sets of ten reps with good form. We never stuck to it, and each time we picked the ab wheel back up resulted in very sore abdominal muscles for the first week.
Every time we decide on an exercise regimen, we get our ab wheel out, dust it off, and give it a whirl. Last April, when we started to exercise and intermittent fast, provided us with another opportunity to use our inexpensive yet beneficial wheel.
A Rose is a Rose by Any Other Name
Perhaps, “The Core Wheel” would be a better moniker for this piece of equipment, seeing as how it exercises and strengthens the entire set of core muscles like no other machine, not even far more expensive ones come close to exercising the entire core as well.
The core muscles consist of all the muscles that keep one upright and balanced: abdominals (stomach), obliques (love handles), thighs, the gluteus maximus (buttocks), and lower back.
After about six months of working out, I successfully performed one standing roller exercise. Here I am three months later demonstrating a standing roller exercise. I now do thirty of these a week (ten per day/ three days a week).
A note of caution on this exercise: it puts an immense amount of pressure on the back muscles, especially at first. Caution should be taken when attempting this exercise. Go slow. Don’t try too much at one time. If you are not sure about correct form, get professional coaching before trying this form of training. And as always, consult your physician before starting any exercise program.