An ab roller won’t magically give you a shredded core, but it still offers a killer workout with multiple benefits if used correctly. Crunches, be damned.
Ab wheels bring more muscles into play than your standard crunch, which makes it an easier and more efficient way to work on strengthening that core.
It’s not just about working on getting that six-pack either.
Putting in some roller time can also help to increase stability in areas such as the lower back and hips and can even give your other sporting pursuits a performance boost.
While it struggles to shake off that gimmicky look, the ab roller has become an essential tool in the home workout armoury, much like resistance bands, kettlebells and dumbbells.
Not surprising given that it’s a simple and effective way to target an area of the body that can often be the toughest to dedicate time to.
Ab rollers are easy to find, but there are some things to look out for to make sure you can effectively go about your rolling business, so it doesn’t end up piled up with the gym gear that never made it past the first workout.
Think about the grip
While that rolling action might be easier to perform than your standard crunch, the pressure it puts on the hands does increase.
Most ab rollers use foam handles to offer something softer and more comfortable to grip.
Look for handles with a more textured or contoured design to offer something that can be gripped more naturally and is better equipped to handle sweatier hands.
Will an ab roller burn stomach fat?
No product in the world will magically target your belly.
Abs are mostly made in the kitchen and the lower your body fat percentage, the more visible they’ll be.
That’s not to say that core exercises such as ab roller sessions won’t do anything, though.
They’ll still strengthen your core and lower-back muscles while making them more pronounced and easier to see once you’ve lowered your body fat percentage.
What type of surface are you going to use your ab roller on?
The ideal rolling surface is something that’s flat and non-slip to ensure you get the right kind of traction.
Pay attention to the type of surface on the wheel to find something that can operate on a wider range of surfaces.
A wheel with deeper grooves in the tread can offer better surface grip if you plan to use it outdoors.
If you’re planning to predominantly use it indoors on a mat, something with a smoother wheel tread should be suitable.
Should you buy an ab roller with a thick or thin wheel?
An ab roller with a thick wheel is a good option for beginners as it offers a more stable base, so you can focus on performing the action correctly.
A roller with a thinner wheel means you’ll lose some of the stability you get from a thicker one, but ups the ante on how much harder it will engage those core muscles.
Do you need to use knee pads with an ab roller?
While you technically don’t need to use a knee pad when using an ab roller, there’s no denying that you’ll be more comfortable, especially as you’ll be doing your exercises on hard floors.
Some ab rollers come with knee pads as standard, but you can also pick them up separately on sites like Amazon for pretty reasonable prices.
Shop GQ’s pick of the best ab rollers you can buy…
This roller is made from plastic with a durable rubber wheel that measures in at 18cm.
That makes it fit for more challenging full rollouts or, if you need to take it easier, rolling from the knees.
A textured finish on the wheel offers plenty of traction to fully engage muscles and is paired up with padded foam handles to offer a snug grip.
That should make working those abs a bit more bearable. amazon.co.uk
Sports Research goes wide with a non-slip rubber wheel that measures just over 7cm to offer a smooth rolling motion.
The handles are made from stainless steel so it’s built to last and wraps them in grips that even sweaty hands can get a good hold on.
It’s also accompanied by a knee pad to offer some welcome cushioning during longer sessions. amazon.co.uk
SKLZ Core Wheels
This pair of brightly hued rollers offers an alternative take on the traditional ab roller, giving you a more challenging way to work on those abdominal muscles.
The plastic wheels keep tread to a minimum to make them most suitable for rolling indoors.
Foam handles offer a comfortable feel while you increase the range of exercises that can give your core and shoulders a much tougher workout. amazon.co.uk
Designed for flat floors, this roller is made from steel with textured handles and a similar style wheel tread to give the right kind of grip on surfaces such as concrete and hardwood.
The option of both stable and unstable wheel modes also means you can increase or decrease the core workload for those times when you prefer going easy on the abs.. decathlon.co.uk
This 18cm dual-wheel roller comes in all black and is a good option for beginners.
There’s a rubber wheel tread to provide ideal floor traction and the handles are wide enough to offer a nice, sturdy grip.
The knee pad means you’ve got the kind of setup where it’s just those abs and shoulders that feel like they’ve had a workout. amazon.co.uk
This plastic twin wheel roller comes in either orange or green with an 18.5cm diameter wheel to give it beginner or more advanced ab rolling appeal.
There are nice thick foam handles to grip hold of and a similarly accommodating knee pad to take some pressure off them during a workout. Don’t be discouraged by the lightweight design; this is an option that will still do the business. amazon.co.uk
H&S Ab Abdominal Exercise Roller
While similar to other ab rollers in our list, this particular model throws in a miniature knee pad, despite its wallet-friendly price.
While it might seem unnecessary at first, your knees will definitely thank you if you plan to exercise regularly, especially on anything other than carpet. amazon.co.uk
Perfect Ab-Carver Pro
This ultra-wide ab roller features ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip, along with an interior spring that provides additional internal resistance if the standard ab roller workout isn’t enough to test your steel core.
It’s pricier than most, but it’s also the only one that offers the ability to increase resistance, with a knee pad included for good measure too. amazon.co.uk
Lifeline Power Wheel
Dubbed the best core trainer in the world during an independent research by the University Of California, Berkeley, the Lifeline Power Wheel turns the traditional ab roller on its head.
Instead of purely using your feet to grab the handles, you can also strap your feet in, assume a press up-like position and move your legs to work out different areas of your core instead. bestgymequipment.co.uk
Gallant Sport uses a single wheel that goes for width to offer a more stable rolling action.
The plastic and steel build should offer satisfying levels of durability while foam handles will give you something that’s nice to grip for long sessions.
Weighing in at 800g, it’s light enough to take on your travels and give you the kind of wheel tread to make it suitable for indoor and outdoor rolling. gallantsports.co.uk