There may be a lot of ab stimulators, machines and exercises out there. But if you want something as effective as the crunch exercise, you need to learn how to use an ab roller.

Yes, it’s that exercise wheel with handles you probably had with your portable home gym kit. It may look simple and easy enough to use.

But if you fall flat on your face the first time you try it, you’re probably doing it wrong. Don’t be discouraged, though.

With the proper technique, you can make the most of this inexpensive compact tool and gain the results you want.

Here are the steps and vital tips you need to improve your core training.

Pros and Cons of Using an Ab Roller

The ab wheel is worth learning and using because it works. Specifically, this device targets your rectus abdominis. 

Keep doing ab wheel exercises, and you should gain those six-pack abs!


One study stated that this device efficiently activates both core and non-abdominal muscles.

Compared with other similar abdominal devices, the ab wheel does not isolate your core section during the exercise.

That means, with this tool, you’ll be hitting multiple muscles and getting a more balanced workout with every roll.

These muscle groups include your arms, shoulders, glutes and lower back.

When you recruit more muscles, you build up muscle strength faster. Moreover, higher muscle build-up means increased caloric burn.

As ab rolling involves your lower back and upper body, this exercise also encourages correct posture.

If you want exercise variety, the ab wheel can help you with that, too.


Learning how to use an ab roller is not for everyone, though. Beginners, for example, might find ab wheel workouts too challenging.

Ideally, you must have enough core strength before using this piece of equipment. These pull-up bar exercises can help with this.

People with hip flexor and lower back issues also need their doctors’ advice before using the exercise wheel to avoid injury.

Health Constitution_Steps on How to Use an Ab Roller

Steps on How to Use an Ab Roller

Correct technique and form are crucial in a successful ab wheel workout. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Find a non-slip, level surface for training.

Most ab rollers have good traction, but they work better on slightly rough surfaces like concrete.

Alternatively, you can place an exercise mat on smoother floor surfaces, like hardwood, marble or tiles.

Make sure your chosen floor space is equal to your height at least. Also, free the area from any obstruction.

You can also use a small cushion or towel for knee support.

2. Get down on all fours and grab the handles.

The ab roller should be under your chest and your hips over your knees. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.

When holding the handle, grasp it lightly. Too much force on your grip will put excessive strain on your arms, shoulders and neck.

In turn, your ab muscles will not work as much.

3. Roll and push your hips forward.

When you roll, your body should be 45 degrees from the ground. Also, aim to form a straight line from your ears down to your knees.

Keep your core tight and your head down. Avoid making the arched-back position and letting your bottom sag to the floor.

Hold this rolled-out pose for 2 to 3 seconds.

4. Return to starting position and repeat.

Finally, use your core and back muscles to push your body back to starting position. Roll ab wheel towards you until it is under your chest again.

This entire movement makes one rep. To complete your beginner ab wheel workout, try performing 8 to 12 repetitions to make one set.

Then, aim to do two to three sets for three days per week.

Health Constitution_Tips on How to Use an Ab Roller Better

Tips on How to Use an Ab Roller Better

Incorporate these tips to help you master the ab roller exercise and improve your output.

  • Focus on getting the proper form. Imagine yourself trying to balance a flat board on your back, from head to tailbone. This visualisation should prevent you from dropping your knees and bottom during the rolled-out pose.
  • Breathe properly. Exhale as you roll forward, then inhale as you return to starting position. Proper breathing helps your muscles perform and protects them from premature fatigue.
  • Roll slowly. Knowing how to use an ab roller properly is all about control, not speed. When doing too many repetitions quickly, your exercise form suffers. Your ab muscles end up doing less work, too.
  • Try holding the rolled-out pose for longer. Once you have the basics down, challenge yourself! Hold the plank position for a few more seconds than usual before rolling your body back. Try this tip without overexerting your body.

How to Reduce the Ab Wheel Struggle

Try rolling your ab wheel against the wall. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Position your body about 90cm (3ft) away from the wall.
  2. Perform the ab roll as usual until the wheel touches the wall.
  3. Roll your body back to return to starting position.
  4. Gradually increase your distance from the wall as you progress.

Beginners can use this to counter one’s tendency to lose control or sag at the end of the roll-out pose.

The wall also keeps your rolls consistent and prevents you from overextending.

If you’re struggling with the suggested distance, you can move closer to the wall and try again.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to use an ab roller may be challenging at first. But the benefits you get from it outweigh the drawbacks for sure.

With this small and inexpensive tool (and a bit of practice), you can achieve a great-looking midsection and more!

Do you need more ways to strengthen your abs? Add these core exercises to your routine.

Latest posts by Denise Deschanel (see all)