Many people misuse the Ab Wheel and they overwork their hip flexors. The way one uses the ab wheel is problematic, and there is a safer and more effective way to use the wheel. There are two separate ways to exercise with the Ab Wheel that many are missing out on.
How To Exercise With The Ab Wheel
The Ab Wheel is excellent for engaging many varieties of muscles. You can use it in a variety of ways depending on what the user hopes to gain or maintain.
One variation involves the shoulder joint. The other focuses on extending and flexing the spine. The two variations are beneficial in helping the body strengthen and tighten muscles. But in different ways.
1. Using The Shoulder Joint With The Ab Wheel
The shoulder joint variation focuses more on the stability of the spine. It is less of an ab exercise but more of an entire core exercise. One creates the movement in the shoulder while keeping the spine stable. In the other variation, the spine is creating the movement. In both variations, it is important not to use the hip flexors to create the movement.
If you desire to engage your entire core, use the ab wheel in a plank position. Then flex and extend your shoulder joint with the wheel. This focuses more on your whole core. Not only the abs and there are different benefits to this variation.
To get in plank position, it is best to set your body up for a push-up. Maintain a stiff spine and kneel on the floor. Have your hands lined up with your shoulders and your knees lined up with your hips. Push your legs behind you and the toes should grip the floor without your heels touching the ground. This will set you up for the plank position
The legs should not be too close together, and it is not advisable to over-extend your legs. Lift your entire body up while placing your hands on the wheel or ball that you will be using. Make sure that your arms and hips are stable and try to hold them tight to avoid falling or injuring yourself. Make sure you are not using your back to pull the wheel in. The shoulders should be performing all the action.
Roll the wheel out by pressing with your hands so that your arms are straight. Avoid pushing with your spine or hips. When your arms cannot go any further you have reached a full range of motion. At this point pull your arms back to your body and continue this movement.
1 If it is difficult to use the ab wheel, use a stability ball until you are more comfortable with the exercise.
2 To help ensure your pelvis does not create movement, squeeze the glutes. Think of it like tucking your tailbone in or tightening your butt. This will help keep you from using your hips too much which can be ineffective for the exercise.
3 If you have trouble extending your spine in this workout, drop the hips a bit deeper than normal. This will build confidence and control. As you extend your spine you are pushing the wheel or ball away from you.
4 If you have a deep curve in your spine, it is dangerous to hyperextend the spine. It is best to extend only until your back has no curve.
2. Rolling Out the Spine
Flexing and extending the spine with the ab wheel will engage the Rectus Abdominis. A section of what the average person considers their “core”. On the basis of movement, this rollout resembles more of a crunch movement than a plank.
To roll out the spine, you should prepare yourself by getting on your hands and knees. Become aware of where your knees are in accordance with your hips. Try to place your knees below your hips so that your hips are square. Your knees should remain on the ground throughout the entire exercise. This movement focuses on the spine.
Place your hands on the wheel and push your upper body forward. Use your back to shift your weight to the front of your body. Your spine should straighten as you push forward. Remember, your range of motion will be different than others. Some may be able to push out further than others.
When you have gone as far as you can, contract or suck in from your abdominal area. Fex your back to pull your upper body back to the neutral position. When pulling your body back up, be aware not to pull with your hips and focus on using your spine during the movement.
Other great exercises to perform with the Ab Wheel include:
Ab Wheel Plank
Using the wheel in plank position helps strengthen and stabilize the abs, core, and spine. It is a great exercise for beginners. And helps you learn how to grasp the roller while keeping your body stable and balanced.
Anyone who has never used the ab wheel should start by using it in plank position. Do this before moving on to advanced movements.
To perform this move:
1 Start on your hands and knees with the wheel placed in front of you.
2 Hold each of the handles with your hands, with one on each side, and the palms should face down.
3 Extend your torso up into plank position so that your body is one straight line and your hips are square.
4 Engage your core like you are trying to suck into a pair of pants and hold this for 30 to 60 seconds.
Continue doing this with breaks between each plank about 3 or 4 times a day.
After you master the ab wheel plank and you feel confident enough. Try a more difficult move. It is best to do a knee roll-out. Place a pad under the knees for cushioning.
1 To start, place your hands and knees on the floor with the wheel in front of you.
2 Extend your arms and grasp each of the wheel hands.
3 Roll your torso forward and make sure to use your abdominal muscles. Try to roll out as far as possible without arching the spine. Your arms should remain extended. Your goal should be to lower your stomach until it is about to touch the floor. If you are unable to do this, attempt to get your torso at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
4 Roll your body weight back in with your knees and pull your torso back up.
Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times in a circuit.
Wide-Stance Front Roll-Out
This exercise is a slight modification of a full roll-out. You can challenge yourself later by placing your feet together. Only after mastering the wide stance front roll-out.
1 Start by standing on the floor with your feet hip-width apart or more. Place the wheel on the ground in front of you.
2 Bending at your waist, grab the handles of the wheels and try not to bend your knees.
3 With a straight back and extended arms, roll the wheel out until you are in a position like a plank. With your arms out in front of your head and your body in a straight line above the floor.
4 Pull the wheel in towards your feet to return to a bent waist. Lift your torso up maintaining a straight spine.
Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
Narrow-Stance Front Roll-Out
This is like the wide-stance roll-out except you place your feet together instead of apart. This is more difficult. It is best to gain strength and flexibility before attempting.
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