The 10 Best Ab Rollers
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in September of 2015. If you've always wanted a six-pack or a V-shaped torso, then a challenging core workout is key -- and an ab roller will give you one of the hardest routines you'll find anywhere. These machines are all simply wheels with handles attached, allowing you to extend your body while using your stomach to hold you steady. They're great for home use or for staying fit while on the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 03, 2020:
Ab wheels are simple pieces of home gym equipment that seem pretty straightforward at first glance, however, if you're completely new to them or haven't built up the strength to use one, you can run into problems. It's important to note that to use an ab roller correctly, you need good core strength in a plank position as well as upper body strength in the shoulders, back, and forearms. If you're just starting, know that you may need to build yourself up to the right level, otherwise you risk harming your lower back and can put undue stress on your shoulders, wrists, and elbows.
With that said, some rollers are better suited to beginners than others, like the newly-added Vinsguir Enhanced and the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro, which both feature wide wheels for stability. If you've already got a tough core and are looking for something more advanced, then the Sklz Dynamic Wheels are a solid choice, as they provide plenty of versatility in what you can do during your workouts, as do the Core Prodigy Coaster.
Many ab rollers sport rugged tread to allow for controlled movement over gym flooring, tile, carpet, and even grass, but be aware that some surfaces provide more resistance than others, which can be a great asset to your workouts but frustrating if your core isn't up to par yet. Those looking for really aggressive tread should consider the Epitomie Fitness BIO or Fitnessery Home Gym, while the Elite Sportz has barely any, facilitating a very smooth motion. How you choose the best unit for you will depend on your surroundings, fitness level, and goals.
To make room for the Fitnessery Home Gym and Vinsguir Enhanced we removed the Power Guidance and Vim Triangular, two selections that sadly became unavailable. We also updated the Epitomie Fitness BIO to its newest model, which includes nonslip performance grip handles that are great for those who sweat a lot and don't want to deal with absorbent foam.
Rogue Fitness Ab Wheel Rogue Fitness' approach to the ab wheel involves taking a simple piece of equipment and manufacturing it to the highest quality standard for better performance and consistency. It’s equipped with a nickel-plated steel shaft, durable rubber tire tread for reliable grip on many surfaces, and sealed bearings for smooth, precision rotations. The edges are slightly rounded to challenge the user to keep it straight by preventing unwanted turns during each rollout. Despite being more rugged than budget plastic trainers, it remains lightweight and compact. roguefitness.com
What Separates a Good Ab Roller From a Great One?
An effective ab roller needs to have smooth wheels, preferably made of rubber.
To understand what makes a great ab roller, it's also necessary to understand a little bit about the physics surrounding one. Ab rollers are based on focusing a person's abdominal muscles in a unique way that ensures those muscles - and only those muscles - are handling the bulk of the work. The immense concentration of an ab roller is much more focused than, say, a standard rolling pin, which isn't only wider, but also more prone to breaking.
Pushing an ab roller is a little like riding a unicycle. The wheel and the axle both need to be durable, and capable of responding to an overwhelming shift in weight. The wider an ab roller's wheels, the more stable that roller should feel whenever it is rotating, back and forth.
An effective ab roller needs to have smooth wheels, preferably made of rubber. Rubber wheels will allow you to use an ab roller on almost any terrain, and rubber is also more prone to peel over pebbles and dirt without interrupting your flow. In addition, rubber wheels won't carve up floors or leave scrape marks on your driveway. If you live in an apartment, rubber wheels will allow you to exercise without disturbing any of the tenants who live below.
Top-of-the-line ab rollers can be adjusted for resistance. As your abs strengthen you can continue to build muscle by pushing harder, as opposed to doing more, or moving slower. The majority of top ab rollers also feature foam hand grips, which are removable, machine-washable, ideal for absorbing sweat, and custom-made for avoiding blisters between the fingers and the thumb.
A Series of Ab Wheel Exercises That Go Beyond 'Stop, Drop, & Roll'
The beauty of an ab roller resides in its simplicity. All you need to do is kneel down on a smooth surface, and, "Voila!" you're off. What's more, an ab roller is effective. The only problem being that, over time, an ab roller could begin to feel monotonous. How many times can a person be expected to follow the same routine motion, up and down, back and forth?
How many times can a person be expected to follow the same routine motion, up and down, back and forth?
You can avoid all that by sneaking in a bit of variety. From time to time, test your limits by seeing how far - and how long - you can stretch an ab roller forward while maintaining a "planked" position. Either that or work the lower abs by placing your feet up on a step. Better yet, you can work the upper-abs by bending over from a standing position, then pushing the ab roller outward from your toes.
How about placing the ab roller on a carpet to increase its level of resistance? How about steering the ab wheel outward to one side (right or left) as a way of building your obliques? How about timing yourself to see how many full rotations you can complete in one minute? How about recording yourself to see what you can improve about your technique?
Yes, the essence of an ab roller is simple. But much like a dumbbell or any other piece of fitness equipment, your constant goal should be to strive harder, increase the intensity, become agile, and achieve more.
A Brief History of The Ab Roller
The first patent for an ab roller was approved in 1968. This patent was filed by an American inventor named Ralph Burzenski who described his wheel as an "exerciser with grippers on a roller mounting shaft." Burzenski's ab roller was almost identical to the models that we use today - a pair of parallel wheels connected via a metal bar which was housed in rubber grips on either side.
You can find them in any gym and they remain a staple of rehabilitative therapy and comprehensive physical fitness regimens.
Burzenski's ab roller was effective with its primary drawback being that it didn't allow for adjustments to the wheel's resistance. Another inventor named J. Sinyard tried to capitalize on this by developing an ab roller during the early 1970s that was comprised of a pair of spherically-shaped metal weights, both of which ran parallel to each other while being encased beneath two orbs. Sinyard's device succeeded in providing more resistance, but it failed in that the resistance wasn't adjustable (and the metal weights were given to jamming inside the orbs).
Regardless, ab rollers were catching on. Pro Wrestling Hall-of-Famer Bob Backlund became an early champion of the ab roller, and physical trainers were making consistent use of the abdominal roller, as well. Ab rollers came into their own as a result of daily infomercials throughout the mid-to-late eighties. Manufacturers had determined how to allow for adjustments to the wheel's resistance, and these running infomercials rendered the ab wheel a constant presence on late-night TV.
Today, ab rollers are mostly sold in sporting goods stores and via online shopping outlets. You can find them in any gym and they remain a staple of rehabilitative therapy and comprehensive physical fitness regimens.