Ab roller – make a return!

Talk about an explosion of the past. Recently there has been a renewed interest in the use of what is commonly known as “Ab Roller”. These devices (which have existed for more than 50 years) are promoted to be used to develop “ABS OF STEEL”.

Interestingly, my first memory of exercising was when I found one of these rollers in my mother’s closet in the early 1970s (I was probably 6-7 at the time): I used the device according to the instructions and was very sore. core / lower back for next week I never touched him again !!

If you have had the opportunity to read any of my abdominal training articles, you will get a clear picture that I am passionate about the proper development of core strength and the dangers of doing core exercises that are beyond your current ability (with the highest risk of hurting your lower back).

Just last week, one of my best-conditioned young athletes hurt his lower back making a much safer but even more advanced version of the roll-out ab (only in a flexion position with his hands and feet). lumbar and was largely incapacitated for next week !!

Having limited control over the extended range of this exercise is so dangerous that it should really be banned in all gyms.

So let’s go back to the beginning: what are we trying to train and what do we finally train by using this equipment incorrectly (which is 99% of all users)?

Core Stability Exercise Progression:

In this article, I talked about the central progress you should make before thinking about heavy exercises of central hip flexion (such as squats with foot support, leg lifts and abdominal rollers).

I stressed that until you can complete level 7 and below the angle of the leg to the 35th floor, you should not do advanced basic exercises because your core simply cannot support your pelvic position.
This will result in excessive use of the hip flexors and the consequent increase in the load on their accessories (Psoas Major: transverse processes, bodies and disks of the 5 lumbar vertebrae).

During the exercise to lower the legs, only the legs are lowered to the floor and their weight is substantially less than that of the upper body, BUT even most people cannot approach the required 35o as shown above (without lose back low pressure).

When you try to use the Ab roller – you are requiring that the hip / core flexors load most of the weight of the upper body (with greater torque generated as the hands advance).

If you feel pain / discomfort in the lower back during or after this exercise (sometimes it can be 1 to 2 days later), this is a strong indication that the exercise is too advanced for your current state of central development. and continue using it. The device may cause long-term damage.


If you intend to use this training device, I suggest the following:

1. Always perform the knees exercise (the introduction image is only for super advanced athletes).

2. How to maintain your core when you do this exercise? I am surprised by the amount of online images of this exercise where the model has an extremely inclined pelvis at the start or during the exercise! This pelvic position will exacerbate the load in the lower back with a high probability of pain / damage in the lower back.

It is important to initially place the pelvis in a neutral or even partially rear turned position before starting (this can be achieved by contracting the lower abdominals and squeezing the back tightly). The central contraction must be in compressing the obliques and contracting the navel towards the ceiling.

3. The most important part of the exercise: when it starts to unfold, you MUST contract your lower abs / obliques as strongly as possible so that there is no change in your pelvic tilt position after an anterior tilt. If you make this move correctly, three things will happen:

to. It cannot be deployed long before it cannot maintain this pelvic position. Most people deploy far beyond what their nucleus can handle, which causes them to move toward a large pelvis rotated previously (see image), so that most of the load passes directly onto the flexor muscles of the hip and lower back accessories.

second. You will feel that your lower abs are about to tear off the front part of your pelvis! Obviously, they will not break, but this is how the pelvis should be held (preventing it from turning earlier) when contracting the abdominals when deployed in this device.

do. If you perform the above movement correctly, you will quickly fatigue your obliques / transverse abdominal (deep central muscle), which will result in a slightly uncomfortable deep central fatigue that is a sign of working these deep central muscles effectively.

4. Exercise should be done very slowly: too much momentum will simply transfer directly to your core / back and you will have even less chance of maintaining the correct pelvic position when it is extended.

5. As this exercise is very advanced, keep the repetition range low: 2-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions should be more than enough for everyone, except the most advanced coach, particularly if your goal is to take several seconds per repetition, This is an extremely hard core training.

6. I would suggest holding your breath during each repetition; This will help maintain intra-abdominal pressure, which will help minimize movement of the pelvis towards an anterior inclination. (Don’t forget to breathe in black and white every repetition).Read more