Ab rollout - Official thread

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Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Vagabond » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:51 pm

Ab rollout


Description

The ab rollout is an anterior core movement done with an accessory called an ab wheel, or ab roller. Starting either kneeling or standing with their hands on the handles of the ab wheel on the floor in front of them, one should brace their abdominals in order to create a slight spinal flexion and maintain that position throughout the movement. Their arms should be maintained in an overhead position, so the upper arms should be by one's ears, and the scapula should be depressed. From there, one would push the wheel as far out in front of them as they can while maintaining braced abs and a slight spinal flexion. Ideally, the movement would go far enough for the hips to go from a retroversed position to a neutral position, then one would come back up by pulling the wheel back towards one's feet using a strong hip flexor and abdominal contraction.


Examples

Here are a few video examples.
Click to show or hide
[media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPoRsuFmc3A[/media] [media]https://www.instagram.com/p/-d1K60Rbq-/[/media] [media]https://www.instagram.com/p/BsHFmaKg34H/[/media]
Notice that in the first video, the person who demonstrates is using her arms in order to make the motion happen. While this is not wrong per se, I personally prefer keeping the arms still and using my abdominals and hip flexors in order to to the isotonic (dynamic) part of the work.


Tutorials

I have not looked for good tutorials for this movement yet, but first of all you should work on getting the prerequisites I mention below. Next, you can use either a proper ab wheel, or a dumbbell, or anything that can roll on the floor and support your hands, really. Even low hanging rings, or swings, can be used for that kind of movement (the physics of it changes a little bit if using rings or a swing, but I'm not going to talk about it much unless someone asks). You should first try to do them kneeling down. Use padding for your knees if you wish. Placing your hands onto something higher then your knees or feet will make the movement easier. Placing them on something lower, or elevating your knees or feet, will make it harder. If you have the prerequisites and struggle to do it kneeling, you can use partial reps (stick to 5 reps, but focus on always trying to go a little deeper) or change the height difference between your feet/knees and hands to adjust the difficulty. Once you can do it well, work on increasing the amount of reps you can do, or intensify the movement by changing the height difference, adding weight or using bands to resist your movement. You could also use your arms to make it a little easier on your core, like in the first example video. You can use the same principles to transition to standing ab rollouts. Partial reps, height differences, using the arms, etc.


Suggested prerequisites
-Being very comfortable with crunches (you should be able to do 20-30 without much fatigue)
-Being able to hold a clean hollow position (I suggest at least 30-60 seconds)
-Being able to do a few pull-ups (we use our lats to help bracing the shoulders when we do ab rollouts)


Feel free to use this topic to discuss the movement some more.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Against Gravity » Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:04 pm

I've never used an ab wheel, so I'm curious about the difficulty of this exercise. How harder or easier it is compared to: weighted (+2-4kg) dragon flags and weighted (+2-4kg) toes to bar hanging leg raises?
Next, you can use either a proper ab wheel, or a dumbbell, or anything that can roll on the floor and support your hands, really. Even low hanging rings, or swings, can be used for that kind of movement
I've tried to do this with low hanging rings. Is it much different from an actual ab wheel? I mean: does an ab wheel offer exclusive benefits in terms of difficulty? (Is it worth buying an ab wheel if already having a dumbell or a pair of rings?)

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Vagabond » Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:31 pm

It's not necessarily worth buying one, but it's also only $10 or so.

As for the difficulty compared to rings (or any suspension devices), it's going to depend on how you place the rings and yourself. For example, if you place your feet right underneath the ring's anchor point, they'll assist you and make the movement easier. If you step back a bunch, the rings will want to go back underneath their anchor, so it's going to make it way more difficult. When I trained outside, I didn't have one, but I used to put my feet on the seat of a low hanging swing and to it with my hands on the floor. Walking away further from the swing made it quite challenging. You also have to check the length of the ring's straps. A longer straps (higher anchor) is preferable for a more evenly horizontal movement, because short straps will rise quickly throughout the movement.

All in all, it's a move that's worth learning, and if you do it with round dumbbells it does the same thing, so no need to buy an ab wheel. If not, build up the strength using whatever you've got, and at some point, see if you can borrow one from someone or build one.

Now, compared to weighted dragon flags or weighted hanging leg raises... I'd say it's more comparable to the dragon flag than it is to the hanging leg raises. When I learned to do standing ab rollouts, I was very proficient at leg raises. Could do lots of reps, and could do moderate reps with weights. Still took me a couple weeks to learn the standing ab rollout. Dragon flag is more similar in the way that it's more of an anti-extension movement, and they both use the lats significantly, although, the lats are used isotonically in the dragon flags but isometrically in the ab rollout (if you do it like I described in the first post), so the roles are a bit reversed between the anterior core and the lats in each move.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Against Gravity » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:00 pm

because short straps will rise quickly throughout the movement.
This is definitely what happens in my case.
It's not necessarily worth buying one, but it's also only $10 or so.
I may try to get one of these over time. I like the idea of using it as a quick finisher after workout, and aiming for high reps over time - eventually using one arm. I wonder if using one arm would focus too much on lats, though (lats fail first) - making it a lat-limited exercise rather than a core-limited exercise
Dragon flag is more similar in the way that it's more of an anti-extension movement, and they both use the lats significantly, although, the lats are used isotonically in the dragon flags but isometrically in the ab rollout (if you do it like I described in the first post), so the roles are a bit reversed between the anterior core and the lats in each move.
The biggest problem I found on weighted dragon flags is that it incremented exponentially the difficulty on lats. So as a finisher exercise (doing that after pull-ups, for example), not so good. I wonder if ab roll outs (double armed and one armed variations) are easier on lats than weighted dragon flags - so that the anterior core fails first due to fatigue, instead lats.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Vagabond » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:37 pm

Yes, dragon flags are definitely more of a lat exercise, and so are front levers (to whoever says doing front lever bulletproofs your abs... that's BS! You need okay abs for it, but it won't make your abs as strong as they could be). When you do ab rollers the way I prefer, you suck your shoulders in (pushing them away makes them more likely to impinge, I've learned that from personal experience and from teaching people to do it) and your lats are only there to stabilize and keep your shoulders and arms tight into position, while your abs and hip flexors go from doing only stabilizing to becoming the prime movers. Definitely more active there than they would be in a dragon flag.

If you're looking for a good finisher for abs specifically, I would suggest reverse sit-up. You do a knee hang somewhere with some padding under the back of your knees and calves and make sure your ankles are held down. Put your fingers on your temples, and do a sit up until your elbows touch your knees. You'll see, not only is it a killer exercise on its own, but it's easy to just hold weight behind your head. When I used to train outside in a wooden area, I build a bunch of bar modules tying logs between trees. I'd ask a friend to hold my ankles, and I'd put a log behind my head to add weight. Could barely do 10 reps like that! If you're worried about your lower back overextending at the bottom, just make sure to keep your abs braced hard as you come down and your lombar spine and hips will stay in a more neutral, slightly flexed, position.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Against Gravity » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:13 pm

Vagabond wrote: Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:37 pm Yes, dragon flags are definitely more of a lat exercise, and so are front levers (to whoever says doing front lever bulletproofs your abs... that's BS! You need okay abs for it, but it won't make your abs as strong as they could be). When you do ab rollers the way I prefer, you suck your shoulders in (pushing them away makes them more likely to impinge, I've learned that from personal experience and from teaching people to do it) and your lats are only there to stabilize and keep your shoulders and arms tight into position, while your abs and hip flexors go from doing only stabilizing to becoming the prime movers. Definitely more active there than they would be in a dragon flag.
This is exactly what I needed to hear. Next training upgrade will probably be an ab wheel. I'll keep that shoulder retraction tip in mind to avoid impingement, thanks!
If you're looking for a good finisher for abs specifically, I would suggest reverse sit-up. You do a knee hang somewhere with some padding under the back of your knees and calves and make sure your ankles are held down. Put your fingers on your temples, and do a sit up until your elbows touch your knees. You'll see, not only is it a killer exercise on its own, but it's easy to just hold weight behind your head. When I used to train outside in a wooden area, I build a bunch of bar modules tying logs between trees. I'd ask a friend to hold my ankles, and I'd put a log behind my head to add weight. Could barely do 10 reps like that! If you're worried about your lower back overextending at the bottom, just make sure to keep your abs braced hard as you come down and your lombar spine and hips will stay in a more neutral, slightly flexed, position.
I've already performed those in a fig tree with my knees and feet anchored in a branch, holding a +10kg plate. They definitely make abs more fatigued than toes to bar hanging leg raises -where hip flexors usually fatigue first-. The only problem is I have to move until that fig tree in order to perform that exercise. The ab wheel would just require the floor, which is why It seems so appealing to me.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Vagabond » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:13 pm

Go for it then! It is a super good exercise, one of my favourite for abs. Like, the ab wheel, hanging leg raises, reverse sit-ups and hollow holds are my essential selection. Add to that some one arm meat hooks and handstand flags, and the obliques get a lot of work too!

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Against Gravity » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:43 am

Vagabond wrote: Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:13 pm Go for it then! It is a super good exercise, one of my favourite for abs. Like, the ab wheel, hanging leg raises, reverse sit-ups and hollow holds are my essential selection. Add to that some one arm meat hooks and handstand flags, and the obliques get a lot of work too!
Finally decided to upgrade my training equipment and acquire them. I want to be very minimalist about core training though, due to limited time. If you could only do one core-focused exercise, what would you choose?

I'll probably perform one set of ab rollouts combined with a few stand to stand bridges (for posterior core compensation) as a quick (<5min) finisher after every workout.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Vagabond » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:42 am

Ab rollouts are definitely up there. I'd rotate them. Maybe do a month of ab rollouts, then a month of something else. Or maybe do two different ones each week. Like, do a hollow hold while watching TV once or twice a week, and do a dynamic exercise one or two more times in that week. I haven't tested much of that, but maybe you can get some kind of a synergetic effect by working on more than one ab exercise in the same training period.

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Re: Ab rollout - Official thread

Post by Against Gravity » Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:45 am

Vagabond wrote: Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:42 am Ab rollouts are definitely up there. I'd rotate them. Maybe do a month of ab rollouts, then a month of something else. Or maybe do two different ones each week. Like, do a hollow hold while watching TV once or twice a week, and do a dynamic exercise one or two more times in that week. I haven't tested much of that, but maybe you can get some kind of a synergetic effect by working on more than one ab exercise in the same training period.
I don't like monthly rotation of exercises, because I feel like I'm 'losing' the skill, even if it just a little, by not training it. That's why I try to pick the smallest selection of exercises possible: and ensure each one of those exercises has as long-term progress potential as possible.

I'll probably rotate it daily instead, using toes to bar hanging leg raises as a dynamic secondary exercise. I stopped training it a few months ago, but I may start training it again with the goal of one arm toes to bar hanging leg raises for reps. And then maybe grip a towel instead of the bar as an additional grip bonus. I guess the next level once hanging leg raises become too easy is doing floor V-sit raises, though, but I prefer to fully develop pike & straddle flexibility before training it seriously.