Is the ab wheel really satan's mistress?

I write this blog for many reasons. To educate, to inform, and to answer important questions, like whether or not people over 35 should wear skinny jeans. (Short answer is And whether or not the ab wheel is really satan's mistress or just something that's best used for rolling out skinny pieces of pie dough. 

I bought an ab wheel a few years ago while strolling through a Dick’s Sporting Goods. It was inexpensive, came with a complete instruction manual, and I would clearly have a six-pack if I did this while binging the latest season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  



Well done ab wheel packaging people. Well done.

These devices call to you from the shelves, not unlike a three-year old begging for his mother's attention. 

"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy! Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom."

And I caved. The device was simple. Easy to understand. Was located right next to the shake weight. And could produce an effect with just minutes a day.

Minutes a day people. 

Bender ball anyone? (Yes, I bought one of these once. True story). 

I can do this while listening to the latest season of Serial from NPR, you think. You pick it up and walk it to the cash register. Yes. I can use this device for 20 minutes before heading out to happy hour. I will do this ten times a day, easy, if not more. And I will do this for the three months leading up to my high school reunion and I will look fabulous. 

Then you get home and try it. And it looks something like this..


The above video is actually a best case scenario, because at least a face plant into a nasty mat doesn't crank your lower back into some serious lumbar extension (i.e. hanging off your spine like a monkey from a tree branch, as seen a little bit in the photo below).   

The reality is that an ab wheel, despite its size and simplicity, is a very advanced tool. It's not actually satan's mistress, in answer to the original question.But the average Jill walking in off the street with minimal strength and core stability isn't going to have much success with this drill. 

Sagging hips are just cranking on your lumbar spine. Not ideal. 

Sagging hips are just cranking on your lumbar spine. Not ideal. 


The concept is an important one in building core strength though, so I'm not suggesting you demand your 12 bucks back from the local sporting goods store. Not just yet. You could, however, exchange your ab wheel for a stability ball if you don't already have one, and use this regression:


Lead with the hips


Coaching cue: Lead with the hips in this drill, not with the arms and upper body. The goal is to keep your upper body and spine completely straight throughout the entire movement. Don't worry about how far you're pushing out when you begin. Go as far as you can without breaking form. 

Try it out and let me know what you think. Or not. I mean that's cool. Either way.