50 Best Ab Rollouts You’ve Never Done
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way Dr. Seedman came up with 50 unique ab rollout variations right? Yes actually you're correct, in fact the number is closer to 55. However I decided to title the article with “50” as I felt it had a better ring to it than 55. With that said, I will in fact be highlighting and discussing 50 + of my favorite ab rollout variations most of which you’ve probably never tried or heard of.
For the sake of keeping this article as succinct as possible many of the variations will only include a several sentence description, particularly if the exercise is more self explanatory. However, there are a some which will require more thorough explanations and analysis.
Before we move into the dozens of unique variations, I first want to quickly highlight the benefits of the ab rollout exercise.
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Quick Overview of Ab Rollouts
Essentially, the ab wheel rollout motion applies extension forces to the body that are attempting to drive your spine and hips down and forward into the floor. It’s for this reason that the rollout is considered an anti-extension movement as it forces the lifter to resist these extension forces. This is done by isometrically activating and contracting nearly all of the musculature of the anterior core as well as deeper core stabilizers. This includes the transverse abs, rectus abdominals, external and internal obliques, serratus anterior and even the deep underlying quadratus lumborum to a degree.
The ab rollout exercise is particularly effective at strengthening the entire abdominal musculature not only because of the high amount of tension placed on the core, but also because of the emphasis on the stretched position which produces a very intense eccentric or lengthening contraction. This creates extreme levels of mechanical tension and muscle damage in the core muscles, which produces incredible gains in strength as well as functional hypertrophy in the targeted musculature.
Although the abdominal rollout movement is one of the most effective anti-extension and core activation exercises there is many lifters, coaches, and trainers perform them incorrectly using either an excessive range of motion or allowing the hips to drop during the movement. Rather than extending the hips by contracting the glutes, the core should remain hollowed and the hips should stay tall by activating the core and the hip flexors. Fortunately, many of the variations I’ll include in this article will actually help eliminate these issues. With that said, lets jump into this extensive list of my 50 + unique ab rollout variations.
1. Eccentric Isometric Hollow Body
The eccentric isometric variation represents my go-to ab rollout variation. That’s because incorporating a slow and controlled eccentric isometric is almost a surefire way to eliminate excessive range of motion and sagging hips as the lifter has an enhanced sense of what the proper mechanics are.
Essentially the athlete can tune into where the natural stopping point is and feel how going further would breach the body’s natural range of motion and protective barrier. Simply put, they can feel where the muscles are at their max functional length for absorbing and producing force, as well as how going further would place greater strain on the connective tissue and spine/joints and less tension on the targeted muscles. Read more about eccentric isometric ab rollouts here.
2. Mini Plank Rollouts from Plank Position
Performing a full ab rollout in the plank or pushup position can often times produce too much tension on the spine and low back. I recommend performing them as a miniature or partial movement as the tension is still incredibly high yet it's much safer on the spine. Several inches is all that is needed to light up your core, triceps, lats, and chest.
3. Single Arm Abdominal Rollouts
One of the most simple yet effective ways to increase the intensity of ab wheel rollouts is to perform them in a single arm fashion. The single arm ab rollout absolutely crushes the entire musculature of the core as it involves ant-extension, anti-rotation, rotary stability, and overall core stabilization.
4. BOSU Ball Ab Rollouts
While they may look rather simple, performing ab rollouts with the knees on a BOSU ball is a great way to increase the instability and overall difficulty of the movement. When performed with an eccentric isometric variation, as shown in the video, the lifter will feel just about every muscle fiber in their core work overtime to stabilize their pelvis, hips, and spine.
5. Bird Dog Quadruped Rollouts
If you're looking for a great core exercise that not only involves significant anti-extension but also intense rotary stability and anti-rotation you'll want to give this quadruped bird dog ab rollout a try. Shoutout to my good friend and strength coach colleague Kelvin Kind Jr. for this variation. It’s exponentially more demanding than it looks as the degree of balance and strength involved through the core and lumbo pelvic hip complex is incredibly high.
You'll also notice my awesome client Leslie Petch not using an excessively large range of motion but, instead, a natural range of motion. As previously discussed, many individuals perform ab rollouts with an exaggerated stretch that places undue strain on the lumbar spine. As with any exercise the goal is not excessive range of motion or even maximal ROM but, instead, natural and optimal range of motion. As an added benefit on this movement you'll also have to activate your shoulder stabilizers from keeping the narrow ab wheel from tipping over laterally.
6. Barbell Ab Rollouts
Performing ab rollouts with a barbell provides many benefits as well as unique variations that I’ll highlight in this article. Besides allowing the individual to adjust their grip position to a width that feels natural and optimal, the extra weight from the loaded barbell greatly increases the extension forces the lifter must resist. Here’s one of my awesome clients Rami showing how it’s done with some extra loading in the form of chains.
Keep in mind, the heavier you load the barbell, the easier the eccentric phase becomes, but the harder the concentric phase is (i.e. the bar does not want to roll back to the starting position as it feels stuck to the floor). In contrast, a lighter load makes the eccentric phase more demanding (the weight wants to roll away from you) while also reducing tension on the concentric phase.
7. Band Resisted Eccentric Isometric Ab Rollouts
The band resisted barbell rollout is a difficult and highly effective core exercise and anti-extension exercise. The added weight to the barbell, as well as the resistance from the bands, produces a high amount of momentum that the lifter must forcefully decelerate in order to resist extension and collapsing. Adding in eccentric isometrics by pausing the stretched position makes it even more effective for strength, hypertrophy, and overall muscle function.
8. Band Resisted Mini Barbell Ab Rollouts
This may look simple but the band resisted mini barbell rollouts from a pushup position is one of the most brutally difficult core and anti-extension movements you'll ever perform. You'll only need a few inches of motion and you'll feel every muscle in your abs, triceps, lats, chest, and hips fire to resist extension.
9. Band Resisted Anti-Rotation Ab Rollouts
The anti-rotation barbell rollout is a highly advanced core movement that involves rotary stability, anti-extension, complete core stabilization, and anti-rotation. If you're looking for an exercise to crush every muscle in the core and abdominal region including the rectus abs, transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques, and quadratus lumborum this one is it. Besides sculpting your abs this one has a high degree of transfer to athletic performance, heavy lifting, and everyday life.
The movement feels like a combination of a traditional ab rollout, a suitcase carry, and a Pallof press. Because of the high amount of tension needed to lock the movement in, the range of motion will be slightly smaller than normal, however, the intensity of activation will be incredibly high. In addition, if you use a large range of motion you'll also lose band tension thereby minimizing the anti-rotation effect. For the set up, simply loop the band towards one end of the barbell and perform a set number of reps then switch the band to the opposite end of the barbell to complete both sides.
10. Band Resisted Quadruped Bird Dog
If you want to increase the difficulty of the previous exercises you can combine several of the techniques. Here's a quadruped bird dog ab rollout variation shown by one of my awesome bodybuilding athletes Ben Lai.
The combination of the loaded barbell and the band resistance overloads the daylights out of the core and abs. When performed in an offset bird dog quadruped fashion not only are you working the anti-extension muscles of the core, you're also working the rotary stability muscles that are pivotal for protecting and stabilizing the spine.
11. Partner Accelerated Ab Rollouts
This ab rollout variation with partner acceleration is one of the most advanced rollout variations as the anti-extension forces the lifter must create to keep the spine in neutral alignment is incredibly high. The degree of mechanical tension and muscle damage to the entire musculature of the abs and core is through the roof making it incredibly effective for sculpting the abs and for building functional strength in the core.
12. Rapid Eccentric Isometric Ab Rollouts
Although most core stabilization exercises are not conducive for implementing rapid eccentric isometrics (REI), one that’s particularly useful is REI’s using the abdominal wheel rollout as demonstrated by one of my awesome clients Ben Lai. If you’re looking for an exercise that truly maximizes rate of core stabilization and spinal rigidity by resisting extension forces acting on the spine, this one’s a tough to beat. Read the full article on Rapid Eccentric Isometrics here.
13. Stability Ball Rollouts
If you're looking for a method to increase the instability of traditional ab rollouts try performing them on a stability ball as demonstrated by my awesome client Todd Weiland. If they’re still not tough enough, you can further increase the extension forces by elevating your feet as well as by adding resistance in the form of chains or plates.
14. Anti-Sliding Rollouts
Here’s one of the most brutal core exercises you’ll ever attempt as demonstrated by my awesome client Matt Jordan. Most ab rollouts involve one point of contact that’s vulnerable to moving or sliding. With this variation both bases of support (feet and arms) want to slide/roll out, thereby creating exponentially greater levels of extension forces on the spine that the lifter must resist. As a result the stimulus to the core and abs, as well as the hips and upper torso are incredibly high.
In addition, placing the feet on the slide-board helps to eliminate a common issue I frequently witness in lifters when doing rollouts, planks and pushups, namely sagging heels syndrome. When the heels sag towards the ground during any type of plank or pushup position it disrupts nearly every aspect of human mechanics. To dial in the position the lifter needs to stay as tall on their toes as possible as this is what creates the hollow body position and intense core activation. Fortunately the slide board immediately remedies this as anything but tall foot positioning results in backward sliding of the feet.
Lastly, having the feet on the slide-board helps to eliminate the common miscue of squeezing the glutes, as it magnifies the extension forces thereby forcing the lifter to activate the anterior core and hip flexors, not the hip extensors. In essence, if you squeeze the glutes you’ll collapse to the floor as this variation punishes faulty mechanics.
15. Single Arm Ab Fallouts
Similar to the ab rollout, the ab fallout performed on rings not only emphasizes core stability and anti-extension but it also enhances shoulder stability and postural control. If you’re looking for a way to increase the difficulty of traditional ab fallouts try performing them in a single arm fashion similar to a stretched single arm plank as demonstrated by one of my awesome clients Todd Weiland. You won’t produce quite the same range of motion as a traditional ab fallout or rollout, however, these are brutally intense on the entire core musculature.
In addition, the single arm version also targets anti-rotation and rotary stability via the serape/contralateral effect. That’s because your body will be forced to resist twisting, rotation, and lateral shifting as you try with maximal effort to maintain control with a single arm. As a result of the anti-rotational component, these also target the various muscles around the lumbo-pelvic hip complex that are vital for maintaining postural control, hip alignment, gait mechanics, and low back health.
16-20. Extreme Ab Arm Rollouts: 5 Variations
I’ve used quite a few different ab rollouts devices over my years of training however, the Extreme Ab & Arm Wheel from Ken Frederick is one of the most versatile and effective ones I’ve ever used. Here are several of my athletes and clients including Austin Meadows, Leslie Petch, Matt Jordan, Jarius Wynn, and Ben Lai demonstrating 5 different progressions.
Besides crushing the core and targeting the entire musculature of the abdominals, the unique design and mechanics make it quite taxing on the upper body including the chest, triceps, lats, shoulders and more. It’s also incredibly adaptable and versatile and can be modified for a number of fitness and strength levels. In addition, the neutral grip position makes it much more shoulder friendly as it allows more natural centration and packing of the glenohumeral joint in comparison to ab wheels that use a pronated overhand grip.
The most basic variation where the athlete kneels on the ground and keeps the handle tips facing away from them is a movement that most intermediate trainees will be capable of (although advanced athletes will still feel it). Flipping the ab roller so that the tips are facing towards you (as well as progressing to the feet) makes the movement exponentially more challenging giving even my strongest pro athletes and bodybuilders a run for their money.
21-25. Bear Crawl Ab Rollouts: 5 Variations
Most individuals perform ab rollouts with a number of aberrations, technical flaws, and dysfunctional patterns. If I had to choose one variation to clean up all of these issues it would be the bear crawl ab rollout. Since using these with my athletes I’ve noticed a significant improvement in core strength, as well as ab rollout mechanics and postural control. In fact, there are 5 reasons why bear crawl rollouts are so effective. Read more about bear crawl ab wheel rollouts here.
26. Anti-Sliding Band Resisted Bear Crawl Rollouts
If you want to take the intensity and effectiveness of your ab training a step further, try combining the bear crawl ab rollout with the anti-sliding method on the slide board. If that’s still not intense enough for your core, try adding band resistance to your legs as shown here by my awesome NFL athletes Marquell Beckwith.
This exponentially increases the level of difficulty as there are several different forces acting to extend the spine all of which the lifter must resist by firing the daylights out of their core. Think of this as a knee raise, reverse crunch, and ab rollout combined into one seamless movement.
27. Single Arm Barbell Rollouts
Here’s one of my NFL quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke performing a single arm barbell rollout. Single arm barbell rollouts are unbelievably brutal as you’re not only resisting extreme levels of extension throughout, you're also resisting anti-rotation and lateral flexion.
The loaded barbell also makes it incredibly challenging to pull back into the starting position, requiring every ounce of effort and full body tension. Besides crushing your entire core including the transverse abs, rectus abs, and internal and external obliques, don’t be surprised if you feel nearly every muscle in your body from head to toe.
As an added bonus the level of shoulder stabilization and postural control needed to keep the bar square is unusually high. That’s because the bar (as well as your body) will want to rotate and twist as you perform these. Make sure your hand is placed directly in the center of the barbell to optimize your force distribution.
28. Trap Bar Ab Rollouts
This may not look like a large or difficult movement but performing ab rollouts with a trap bar is one of the most challenging and brutal anti-extension core exercises you’ll ever attempt. Here I have one of my awesome clients Leslie Petch performing these from a pushup plank position.
I recommend starting with the kneeling variation before progressing to the feet as the movement is deceptively challenging. In addition, the trap bar provides leverage disadvantage in comparison to a normal ab rollout making the concentric phase (the portion where you roll the weight back to the starting position/under the chest) exponentially more difficult, thereby keeping constant tension on the core. Trap bar rollouts also crush the lats, triceps, chest, and shoulder stabilizers similar to pullover variations.
These also provide two unique bonuses that are difficult to replicate with other ab rollouts. First, they're much more shoulder friendly because of the neutral grip. Most if not all ab rollouts involve a pronated grip which can commonly cause shoulder issues in lifters when performing any type of repeated shoulder flexion/extension pattern. This variation resolves that.
The second bonus is that this particular variation eliminates the sagging hips and excessive range of motion via hyperextension that so many lifters employ with rollouts. If you roll out too far with these not only will it be nearly impossible to pull the bar back to the starting position, the bar will also twist and rotate rather than stay parallel to the ground. That's because too much force will be driving into the bar with horizontal force vectors rather than vertical force vectors. If you want to make these even more difficult try flipping the bar over so the elevated handles are facing up towards the ceiling as shown here by my awesome client Todd Weiland.
29. Reverse Rollouts
The traditional body saw (very similar to an ab rollout) typically performed on a slide board or with sliding discs is one of my favorite core exercises for hammering the abdominal musculature and spinal stabilizers. Unfortunately, it involves very little stability or balance. In addition it’s quite easy to place more load on one leg thereby perpetuating asymmetrical loading patterns. However, by performing the body saw exercise with your feet on a stability ball it quickly resolves these issues as demonstrated by my awesome client Charlene Harrison. Think of these as a reverse ab rollout.
If you use excessive momentum, allow the hips to drop, or lose full body tightness even for a second, you’ll likely slip off the ball and lose your balance. In addition, you’re forced to load both legs equally in order to keep the ball and your body locked into position.
30. Plank Push Away Anti-Rollout
Although it’s not exactly an ab rollout, the plank push away anti-rollout exercise produces a similar activation pattern on the core. In fact, the plank push-away performed on a stability ball is one of the most deceptively challenging yet effective core movements you'll ever perform. Simply plank on a ball then push yourself as high up as possible using your forearms until you're at 90 degree angle.
It's definitely one of those movements that looks simple but once you try it, you'll notice the incredibly intense core activation you'll achieve in order to resist extension forces on the spine. It's also a great movement for targeting shoulder stability and proper scapular positioning as anything but ideal mechanics will cause the movement to be semi-uncontrollable. Additionally, it's very effective for sculpting the musculature of the abs and core as it targets both the deep transverse abs as well as the rectus abdominal muscles.
31. Kneeling Landmine Ab Rollout
Want to add a unique rotational offset component to your ab rollouts? Try performing them on a landmine station with offset leverage as show by my awesome client Charlene Harrison. Not only do these crush your rectus abdominals and transverse abs, you’ll feel your obliques and other smaller stabilizers in the lumbopelvic hip complex getting torched due to the anti-rotation and anti-lateral flexion components. In essence, this represents the complete ab movement due to anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion.
In addition, you’ll need to perform equal sets on both sides of the landmine. That’s because the offset rotational position emphasizes one side of the core and upper body more so than just a traditional rollout. As a result, the landmine rollout doesn’t just tax each side of the core and abdominals, it helps expose and eliminate a number of imbalances and asymmetries that might exist.
32. Planking Landmine Ab Rollouts
Similar to any other ab rollout you can also progress the landmine ab rollouts to a planking position as shown here by my awesome client Ben Lai. These are one of the most intense ab exercises you’ll ever perform.
On a side note, the landmine station can be anchored on the floor or on a squat rack, as shown in the video. Whether you’re trying to build your six pack, improve your core strength, or simply eliminate low back pain, this is an incredibly effective movement that should be periodically employed in your training routine.
33. BANA Landmine Ab Rollouts
Besides providing a unique method for targeting the core, the landmine ab rollout provides one of the only practical methods for applying eccentric overload to the abdominal musculature. Here I have one my NFL combine athletes Julian Williams performing a very unique BANA eccentric accentuated 2:1 ab rollout.
The 2:1 eccentric accentuated protocol also known as the bilateral assisted negative accentuated training protocol (BANA) is one of my favorite eccentric overload methods. Not only does it produce incredible gains in functional strength and hypertrophy, it’s also very effective for targeting each limb individually during the eccentric portion of the lift.
Essentially, what you’re doing is performing the concentric phase of the lift with 2 limbs and the eccentric phase with 1 limb thereby providing greater eccentric overload during that eccentric or negative movement. Unfortunately, this technique is often limited to machines or cable systems such as seated machine rows, lat pulldowns, leg extensions, leg curls, and chest press machines. However this same technique can be applied to abdominal rollouts using the landmine angled rollout exercise.
34. Landmine Lateral Rollouts
The landmine station can also be used to perform lateral rollouts as demonstrated by one of my awesome clients Cali Shadburn.
In fact, this is one of many exercises we used to help Cali recover from a broken spine. Read more about here inspirational comeback from injury in Women’s Health Magazine.
Essentially, she’s holding a single arm plank while performing lateral rollouts with the opposite arm. In reality, this combination targets every component of core stabilization including anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion. In addition, this requires significant upper body strength and postural stability (from head to toe). It’s important to point out that a majority of the load is on the arm that’s performing the single arm plank not the lateral rollout arm. If too much load is placed on the lateral rollout arm the movement tends to feel unnatural.
35. Rotational Landmine Rollouts
The rotational landmine rollout is one of the most deceptively challenging core exercises particularly on the obliques and transverse abs as the level of anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion involved is enormously high. Here I have NFL quarterback Taylor Heinicke performing them as we prepare his body for the demands of the upcoming NFL season.
You’ll also notice that he switches hand placement half way through the set as it requires that one hand be stacked on top of the other. Switching positions helps to ensure one side does not get taxed more than the other.
36. Steer The Wheel Landmine Ab Rollouts
Rotational ab rollouts can also be performed holding on to the plate, as shown here by my bodybuilder Ben Lai. I refer to these as steer the wheel landmine rollouts. Although they do involve a similar activation pattern as the rotational ab rollouts shown above with Taylor (holding onto the collar of the barbell), holding the plate slightly alters the recruitment pattern not only of the core but also of the upper body. In fact these torch the chest, shoulders, and arms as much as the core.
With this variation the shoulders and arms will actually shift and move through a significant range of motion rather than holding an isometric contraction. As the arms shift not only will the lifter be required to stabilize the shoulders, but they’ll also be forced to resist hip rotation and spinal shifting as the upper body movement will essentially want to cause the core, spine, and hips to destabilize. It’s up to the lifter to keep the lower spine and core locked into a neutral position even though the upper torso will be moving throughout the exercise.
37-39. Trap Bar Landmine Rollouts: 3 Variations
The trap bar and landmine can be combined to create some unusually brutal ab rollouts. Here I have NFL athlete Marquell Beckwith and national figure competitor Leslie Petch demonstrating a few variations.
As previously discussed, the landmine provides a form of rotational forces and lateral flexion forces the lifter must resist. However, the neutral grip provided by the trap bar is also very conducive for locking the shoulders in and packing them into a very sound position which can be difficult especially with a straight barbell (due to the pronated grip). You're also at a biomechanical disadvantage since you're closer to the pivot point (in comparison to a straight bar). Therefore, the demanding leverage position further increases the stimulus of the abdominals and core. Read more about trap bar landmine exercises here.
40. Frog Fit Rollouts
I have to admit when I first saw the frog fit device I was a bit skeptical as I tend to be a bit leery of any new fitness gadgets. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the Frog Fit (check out @chipfrogfit on Instagram for more) as it’s quite versatile and can be used to target literally every muscle in your body. While it’s not something I would use to replace traditional movements, it is a cool piece to incorporate as a unique core movement, full body finisher, or accessory exercise.
Here I have bodybuilder Ben Lai performing a biomechanical drop set as he focuses the first half of the set on upper body and core with a vertical pressing motion (think of this as combination plank and overhead press), then moves to a more full body movement.
There are literally hundreds of exercises than can be performed on this device as it’s incredibly versatile and can also be adjusted with various tensions and intensities to match any fitness level. Fortunately, it also comes with a detailed book and exercise library of all possible movements you can perform with it. Just be cautious not to overextend in the stretched position as this could place excessive tension on the low back.
41. RPT Abdominal Rollouts
One of the few components most ab rollouts are missing is a lower body instability component. More specifically most lifters tend to load one side of their hips and core more so than the other when performing ab rollouts. Additionally, this can be quite subtle making it difficult to catch and cue. One quick and effective way to remedy this issue is to perform ab rollouts with your feet on an unstable surface such as a stability ball or RPT device. Here I have Leslie Petch performing one of the most challenging core exercises you’ll ever attempt. Read more about the RPT device here.
42. Offset Height Barbell Rollouts
Offset training is one of my favorite strength training methods as the unusual loading patterns and offset positions tends to expose and address a number of imbalances, asymmetries, and instability issues throughout the body. Performing them on a barbell using different different heights (by loading only one side,) as shown by my awesome figure athlete Leslie Petch, provides several unique benefits.
First, the offset height places more tension on the elevated side. Similarly, the side with the heavy load will stick more to the floor causing the barbell to shift and rotate unless the lifter braces the daylights out of the core and abs. In essence, the lifter’s goal should be to create one seamless rolling motion with both sides moving at the same speed while also keeping the barbell perfectly square to their body. This will also require the lifter to slow the movement down and eliminate any excessive momentum.
43. Offset Loaded Barbell Ab Rollouts
If your really want to get crazy with your offset ab rollouts, try performing them using extreme offset loading as shown here by one of my NFL athletes Vantrell McMillan. Simply load one side of the bar with several plates or more then load only a fraction of that amount on the other side.
Be prepared for some extreme core and ab activation as each end of the bar will move and feel quite different from the other side. In essence, the loaded side will feel as though it’s stuck into the floor, requiring extreme upper body and core activation to move it back from the stretched position into the starting position. In contrast, the lighter side will feel quite the opposite, as that end of the barbell will want to roll out rapidly during the eccentric phase and the lifter will be required to slow down the entire movement to synchronize it so that both ends of the barbell move in unison. This requires enormous levels of motor control, intramuscular tension, and mental focus.
44-50. Planking Overhead Press Ab Rollouts: 7 Variations
If you’re looking for a unique and effective way to improve your overhead pressing mechanics that’s also low back friendly, try performing planking ab rollout shoulder presses. Here I’m performing 7 unique variations along with my awesome figure athlete Leslie Petch and NFL athlete Vantrel McMillan.
Simply anchor bands to the bar and your feet then press and rollout. In reality the movement pattern is almost identical to an overhead military press only you’re holding a plank position throughout. As a result this does wonders not only for crushing your entire upper body and legs but it also teaches the lifter how to engage their core during vertical pressing exercises which most individuals struggle with. In fact, it’s quite difficult to collapse into excessive lumbar extension due to the unique nature of the movement.
As shown in the video, there are a number of variations from single band to double band, as well as push press variations which engage the whole body, single leg versions, trap bar presses, bear crawl overhead presses, and single arm push presses. These are also great ways to incorporate accommodating resistance on overhead presses.
The tension and difficulty is easily adaptable to a number of fitness levels simply by changing the band tension or using a double band vs. single band setup. Although these look like a core dominant exercise the upper body, particularly the deltoids, lats, triceps, upper pectorals, are really what get hammered, although the core does get worked quite extensively.
51-52. Lat Pulldown Ab Rollouts 2 Variations
Similar to the overhead pressing ab rollouts the same concept can be applied to the lat pulldown motion as I demonstrate alongside my awesome figure athlete Leslie Petch.
Besides providing a unique and effective anti-extension exercise for crushing your core and abs there 4 reasons why the lat pulldown ab rollout is so effective.
1. Excessive lumbar extension and exaggerated low back arch are two common problems during lat pulldowns and pullups. This movement teaches lifters how to perform vertical pulling motions while simultaneously keeping the core and abs ridiculously tight. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to over arch you’re your low back. This transfers incredibly well to pullups and pulldown motions, reinforcing the idea of keeping a neutral lumbar spine position and pulling only from the lats rather than the low back.
2. The lat pulldown ab rollout provides more constant tension to the core than just about any exercise you’ll ever perform. That’s because you’re essentially holding the stretched position of an eccentric isometric ab rollout and never returning to the starting position all while performing vertical pulldowns.
3. The vertical pulldown ab rollout represents the perfect 2 in 1 lat exercise as it provides one of the only known ways to combine 2 of the most effective lat exercises namely the lat pulldown and pullover exercise. Most individual don’t realize that the ab rollout is actually the exact same movement pattern as the pullover motion except it’s performed from a kneeling position rather than the supine position. As a result, the muscle recruitment patterns and activation are quite similar. By modifying the ab rollout motion we can essentially combine the lat pulldown and pullover into one seamless movement. This provides one incredibly potent stimulus not only to the core but also to the upper back and lats.
4. Besides pulverizing your lats and abs, the lat pulldown ab rollout also provides one of the only known methods for simultaneously targeting your biceps and triceps with near maximal intensity during an actual movement. That’s because the triceps are used to support the body as you hold a pushup plank position, while the biceps are contracting in tandem with the lats to perform the vertical pulling motion. As a result, the biceps and triceps work together rather than on opposition to each other
These can also be performed with the trap bar similar to the overhead pressing ab rollouts.
53. Snatch Grip Rollouts
Besides crushing the core, ab rollouts are incredibly effective for working the shoulder stabilizers particularly when moving into the semi-overhead position. As a result, they have tremendous carryover not only for throwing athletes but also Olympic weightlifters.
In fact, the barbell ab rollout can be easily modified to be even more weightlifting specific and shoulder-emphasized by using a wide snatch grip, as shown here by my awesome client and national figure competitor Leslie Petch. Just make sure to keep you shoulders packed throughout to avoid faulty postural mechanics.
54. Single Leg Stability Ball Ab Rollouts
If you’re looking for a unique way to crush your abs and lower body at the same time try performing ab rollouts on one leg. You’ll feel the quads, hip flexors, and glutes firing like mad as you stabilize the load on a very narrow base.
Additionally, most variations lack a significant balance and stabilization component. Performing single leg rollouts on a stability ball addresses this issue by forcing the lifter to lock their core at another level, not to mention their postural stabilizers, shoulders, and lumbopelvic hip complex. Lastly, this variation also helps to expose any lower body imbalances and asymmetries in the lumbopelvic hip complex. Addressing and correcting these issues is pivotal for maximizing athletic performance, physiological function, and low back health.
55. Single Arm Stability Ball Ab Rollouts
Besides ab rollouts, one of my all-time favorite core exercises is the single arm plank. That’s because it addresses anti-extension, core stabilization, rotary stability and full body strength all in one drill. Performed on a stability ball the single arm plank becomes exponentially more challenging as even a split second of poor activation patterns or lack of focus will cause the lifter to lose control of the drill. With that said, if you’re looking for one of the most difficult ab rollout variations there is, try performing them from a single arm position on a stability ball.
Once you have mastered these it’s safe to say you’ve not only built a bulletproof core but you’ve probably eliminated a majority of your imbalances and muscle dysfunction from head to toe.
56. Heavy Weighted Ab Rollouts with Band Resistance
Here’s a brutal core exercise that combines several of my favorite ab rollout variations as performed by my awesome client Todd Weiland. First the trap bar provides a unique leverage disadvantage (especially when using the top handles) in comparison to a normal ab rollout making the concentric phase (the portion where you roll the weight back to the starting position/under the chest) exponentially more difficult.
Secondly and as previously mentioned above, the trap bar rollout is much more shoulder friendly because of the neutral grip. The next feature is this exercise is the accommodating resistance in the form of bands that provides high amounts of constant tension throughout the lift including in the full contracted position (which is typically where tension is lost). The bands also produce a high amount of momentum that the lifter must forcefully decelerate during the eccentric phase in order to resist extension and collapsing. The deceleration component is even more challenging given the load which leads me to my final point.
You'll notice we have approximately 400 pounds on the trap bar. Performing ab rollouts using heavy loads exponentially increases the difficulty of the concentric phase as the bar literally feels as though it’s stuck into the floor due to the high levels of friction that the lifter must overcome. As an added bonus these not only crush the core and abs but also the lats, chest, triceps, shoulders, and hip musculature.
If you’re looking for a program that teaches you how to incorporate unique ab exercises such as these into your routine, check out my Complete Templates Series.