Friday, August 17, 2012

Core Essentials - The Ab Wheel

The Ab Wheel is one simple but effective tool in any fitness program. An old school classic it isolates the abdominals,obliques, lower back and hip flexors. If I had to choose only one tool for strengthening the core this would be it. All due respect to my medicine ball but not only is the wheel very effective but it is affordable and versatile.

If you have never used an Ab Wheel before you need to buy (or make) one and add to your current exercise routine. Why is it so good?

"It directly targets the abdominal muscles, but it can also help build the hard to get to muscles of your lower back.....An ab wheel forces your core muscles to work together through proper execution of movement which allows your entire core to function as a group."

Disclaimer - Critics would claim it places undue stress on weaker lower back muscles and under-developed hip flexors so you do need to start slow and work your way into full extension. You can begin by using the wheel to perform a simple plank and then begin to extend once you become stronger and comfortable with the basic movement.

As your core/lower back and hip flexors become stronger you can begin extending your arms forward while maintaining good plank form. Variations include holding the extension for a short time(ie;plank) or turning the wheel to the left or right to specifically hit the obliques. Advanced techniques include assuming a pushup position on your toes(as opposed to knees) and, if you are very flexible, from a standing position.

You think you got a strong core? Using a wheel is a great way to prove that assumption and will engage the whole core with a substantial burn. I've been using one for the last couple years and it remains effective especially in combination with medicine ball routines. All you need is a flat surface and some cushioning for the knees.

Work the core and feel the burn!

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