Ab Wheel Exercise For Core Strength
An Ab Wheel Exercise can be a great addition to your core workout if you're tying to find an advanced way to strengthen your core muscles.
Next to the floor (which is free) is one of the cheapest pieces of abdominal exercise equipment that you can buy.
There are various types of wheels on the market, and there are a few variations of how you can use them.
Before I show you the ab exercises with the Power wheel, I think it is important to learn why it can put a lot of pressure on your lower back.
Ab Wheel Exercise and Lower Back Pain
Since I'm a physical therapist, I often think about the risk of injury to the lower back when performing advanced ab exercises, especially because most of the people I work with (and meet) have sedentary jobs, poor posture, and joint problems.
Every exercise has benefits and risks, so no exercise is simply good or bad. There can be many causes of lower back pain.
One cause of lower back pain is excessive arching (extension) of the back. When the back arches excessively, extra pressure is placed on the joints of the lower back.
The abdominal muscles help to prevent lower back pain by stopping the back from arching excessively. So when your abs are strong you are less likely to arch too much.
You must have above average core strength in order to properly perform an ab wheel exercise. As you roll out with the ab wheel, gravity pulls your spine into extension (arching), and if your abs are not strong enough to stabilize your pelvis and spine you will have too much pressure on the low back.
There is a second reason besides the position that extra pressure is placed on the lower back-- lack of flexibility in the shoulder (lats).
The latissimus dorsi (lats) is a back muscle that starts on your pelvis and lower back and goes all the way up to the shoulder.
The lats are often called the swimmer's muscle because they pull the shoulders down and back, like the freestyle swimming motion-- and swimmers tend to have really developed lats.
At any rate, in addition to pulling the shoulder down the lats can also help to arch the back. When the lats are tight and inflexible, they cause the back to arch when your arms are raised over your head.
As you roll out with the wheel, your arms move over your head, and if your lats (shoulders) are tight and inflexible your back will have the tendency to arch.
The third reason the ab wheel puts pressure on your lower back is stiffness in the hips (hip flexor).
The Hip Flexor muscles are the muscles that bend your hips. If you were standing these muscles would bring your knee up towards your chest. This is the same issue as with the lats (shoulder).
We all sit way too much, and prolonged sitting and sedentary jobs can make the hip flexors really tight.
The hip flexor muscles (iliopsoas) attach to the lower back and pelvis, and when they are tight they tend to cause the back to arch excessively, when the hips are straightened.
As you roll out with the wheel, your hips straighten, and if your hip flexors are tight and inflexible your back will have the tendency to arch.
This ab wheel exercise is an advanced ab exercise that puts pressure on the lower back because your abs have to fight against gravity, tight lats, and tight hip flexors.
I would not recommend full ab wheel roll outs for the beginner, but if you have decent core strength, good posture, good flexibility, and good overall conditioning, the ab wheel could be a great way to really strengthen your abs.
The ab wheel can also be a great tool for super active individuals or athletes training for serious athletic activity.
Don't be discouraged if you really want to try the wheel... Go For it, but listen to your body.
If you don't own an ab wheel here are some alternative exercises you can do with an exercise ball
Also, check out the Directory of Abdominal Exercises for all the exercises on this site.
Ab Wheel Exercise: Front Roll Outs
This is the most popular way to use the ab wheel.
Starting Position: Begin by kneeling on the floor, and hold both sides of the wheel. Use a pad for your knees or kneel on a mat for comfort.
Form: Roll the wheel forward, and lower your body as far as you can without arching your back. Then, use you abs to pull yourself back to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Only go as far as you can control. In the beginning use less range of motion until your abs get stronger and you master the form.
Your spine and hips should not move. Your abs have to remain tight from the beginning to keep your body in a solid position.
Ab Wheel Exercise: Leg Roll Ins (Piques)
This is another popular way to use the fit wheel.
In order to perform this version, you need the special wheel that comes with foot straps.
Starting Position: Place your feet securely in the foot straps, and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
Form: While keeping your legs straight, lift your hips in the air as high as you can. Hold briefly at the top and then return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: This version is usually a little less challenging on the lower back that the first version.
Make sure to keep your abs engaged as you return to the starting position so that your back does not arch excessively.
Variation: You can perform this exercise by bending the knees and pulling your knees in towards your chest (instead of keep your legs straight). Many people find this is an easier version of the Leg Roll Ins.
I just think this is a cool video that makes an important point.
Doing ab exercises is good for everyone, not just competitive athletes and models.
Even if you are a little overweight, you can benefit greatly from stronger abs. Strong Abs help to support your posture, prevent back pain, and improve your overall fitness
She has really good form, and I hope she inspires you to get to work.
The Wheel is a good abdominal exercise machine. Just remember to build up slowly and listen to your body when you introduce an ab wheel exercise into your core workout.
Have Fun Working Out!
Yours in Health
P.S. Check out my Core Workout Video!
The video can be purchased as DVD's and shipped to your home.
Get the DVD for $7.95 + sph
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