The wheel is often described as the greatest invention of all time, so how well does the ab wheel stack up when it comes to burning fat and carving out a sleek set of abs? In this review, I’m going to untangle the marketing hype, lay out practical alternatives and explain why (most) people are simply better off saving their money.
There’s a good chance you stumbled across this page because you want to lose belly fat/get abs and think an ab-roller is the perfect tool for the job. There’s just one problem. It won’t help you burn much fat! Look, it’s not all bad news…
Will an ab-roller actively strengthen your abs and lower back? Yeah.
Will an ab-roller give your ‘core’ a good workout and make you feel ‘the burn’? Sure.
Will an ab-roller help burn off the fat covering your abs and give you the six pack you desire? Not so much.
Do ab rollers actually work?
The problem with ab rollers (and similar contraptions) is not that they don’t work or ‘target’ your abs (they do), it’s that they violate the body’s unwritten rules for fast and effective fat loss. And when belly fat is the main culprit standing between you and a set of washboard abs, that’s simply unacceptable.
So, does that mean they’re completely useless? Not exactly. If you can already see your abs, or at least the visible outline, then an ab-roller may be a suitable investment to add a degree of variety/challenge to your existing exercise routine. They may also be useful where strength and stability is the goal.
So, what do I recommend?
With so many ab-rollers out there it can be tough market to navigate. One wheel, two wheels? Spring-loaded, non-spring loaded? And what about materials?
If you are in the market for an ab-roller for the reasons outlined above, then Speed Abs by Iron Gym gets my nod of approval. With it’s ergonomic rubber handles, wide wheel base of support and built-in recoil spring, which decreases excessive strain placed on the spine and lumbar region, it’s a step above others in the market and comes in at a very reasonable price-point.
But let’s not overlook the main point here, if you’re an average guy (or gal) who wants to get abs but has some belly fat to lose, save your money and read on.
The Ab-solute truth
Physiology dictates that fat loss occurs uniformly, not from the trouble-spot over your stomach. So, not only can you give the ab-roller the flick, you can also ditch exercises like the crunch. They simply don’t stack-up in terms of fat burning capacity compared to total-body exercises like squats, dead-lifts, shoulder presses, lunges, rows, press ups and pull ups.
These movements are also ‘functional’ (i.e mimic daily activities), unlike the unnatural ‘rolling’ motion of the ab wheel, and actually engage, strengthen and shape your core with greater efficiency. What’s more, muscle tissue is metabolically active, which means it’s a great natural fat burner, so the more muscle you use and build during your workouts, the faster you’ll eradicate your belly.
A quick word on ‘toning’: Don’t fall for the gimmicky headlines. You cannot ‘tone’ your abs. Collectively, they function as a group of muscles and may only get smaller or larger. The illusion of definition comes from decreasing body fat percentage and/or increasing muscle size.
In reality, the ‘secret’ to losing belly fat and getting abs can be found in following proven diet strategies and exercise principles, not from a little wheel you can pick up on Amazon for $30 bucks. So, until you get both of those factors in-check, consider your workouts an ab roller free-zone.