Ab wheels can offer you a good core workout but some people don’t like them. Discover some ab wheel alternatives with similar potential.
The main benefits of ab wheels come from growing your core muscles without your back on the ground. Many people will find this more comfortable.
Even so, it is still possible that you don’t enjoy ab wheel exercises, that the exercise is currently too challenging, or that you want an alternative for another reason.
The exercises below do often require you to lie down on your back but they can be great for training similar core muscles as the ab wheel.
Something to note is that if you are not able to do the ab wheel rollout because you don’t have the equipment, you may still be able to do a similar movement with a towel and a smooth floor.
1. Lying leg raises
Even if you don’t, it could be worth investing in one. That being said, take the following steps to do a lying leg raise:
- Lie down on your back with your legs together and slightly less than stretched. You can hold your arms beside you for stability.
- Slowly turn your hips and move them toward your chest. To really work your ab muscles you want to keep your legs at the same angle in relation to your hips.
- Lower your legs back to the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
Lying leg raises are more of an isolated alternative. More specifically, if you do them right, they focus on your lower abs.
People who really like that ab wheel rollouts do not require them to lie down can consider doing lying leg raises on an ab gym machine called the captain’s chair or on something like a pull-up bar.
These variations will also be more challenging which can be good or bad depending on your current core strength.
Crunches are a popular and effective way to work the ab muscles. This no-equipment ab wheel alternative can be great if you want to focus on this specific part of your core.
Take the following steps to do a crunch:
- Lie down on your back with your feet flat on the ground right in front of your butt. Keep your hands against your chest.
- Slowly raise your shoulders as far off the ground as comfortable while keeping your lower back against the ground.
- Lower your shoulders back to the ground in a controlled motion.
If you are more familiar with sit-ups, you can describe crunches as half a sit-up. This is again a movement with a more specific focus.
To build ab muscle mass you preferably want to do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 weighted crunches. That being said, higher-repetition ranges can work for many people too they really push themselves to failure.
Something to note about V-ups is that they can be relatively challenging for your spine. Even if you implement the right technique.
To play it safe, you can start with smaller angles than described and if that goes well, build up from there. Take the following steps to do a V-up:
- Lie down on your back with your legs together and slightly less than stretched. If you are new to core training, you can keep your arms against your chest. If not, you can stretch them above your head.
- Slowly lift your legs while keeping them slightly less than stretched. At the same time, you want to curl up your upper body starting with your shoulders and continuing with the rest of your back until your upper body makes a V-shape with your legs. Use your core muscles to move, not the swinging of your arms.
- Lower your legs and upper body again in a controlled motion. If you are not done with your set yet, you can keep your feet hovering above the ground with the help of your abs.
Similar to ab wheel rollouts, V-ups work muscles like your obliques, abs, and hip flexors.
To make the movement harder on these muscles, you can do variations like weight plate V-ups or something similar with weights like ankle weights, wrist weights, dumbbells, etc.
4. Russian twists
Take the following steps to do two Russian twist repetitions:
- Sit down on the floor with your spine straight and feet flat on the ground.
- Slowly tilt your upper body back until it is at about a 45-degree angle to the ground. Keep your spine straight. Additionally, raise your feet slightly off the ground. You can keep your arms against your chest.
- Slowly rotate your upper body to one side as far as comfortable.
- Return to the position in step 2.
- Repeat the same movement of step 3 in the other direction.
The main technique attention points for Russian twists are keeping your spine straight and not twisting too far.
Even when keeping these things in mind, Russian twists are not for everyone. People with back or neck issues may want to choose one of the other ab wheel alternatives.
That being said, if your body is able to deal with them, Russian twists can be helpful for working your oblique and ab muscles.
Sit-ups are another popular option when it comes to core exercises. It is also another example of a movement where a soft surface like a yoga mat can make things more comfortable.
Take the following steps to do a sit-up:
- Lie down on your back with your feet flat on the ground in front of your butt. Keep your arms against your chest.
- Slowly curl up your upper body until your chest is close to your knees. Start with the top of your spine at shoulder height and raise more and more of your spine off the ground. Make sure your core muscles power this movement. Not the swinging of your head or arms.
- Reverse the movement from step 2 in a controlled motion. First, your lower back touches the ground again. After that, more and more of your spine until you lie down again.
Similar to crunches, you want to do about 3 sets of 6 to 25 weighted sit-ups to build the most amount of muscle mass.
Bodyweight sit-ups can also go a long way to grow and strengthen your abs, obliques, and hip flexors.
This makes them an alternative with somewhat similar effects as ab wheel rollouts, fewer equipment requirements, and potentially more discomfort.
6. Flutter kicks
Take the following steps to do flutter kicks:
- Lie down on your back with your legs together and slightly less than stretched. Put your arms by your sides for stability throughout the movement.
- Push your lower back against the ground with your ab muscles. You want to keep it there throughout the rest of the movement.
- Raise your legs until they are about vertical.
- Slowly lower your legs until right before you are not able to keep your lower back on the ground due to the weight of your legs. The stronger you are, the closer your legs will be to the ground.
- Raise one leg slightly while keeping the other leg in place.
- Lower this leg again and raise the other leg at the same time.
- Keep “fluttering” your legs like this.
Flutter kicks are an ab wheel alternative that mostly focuses on your ab and hip flexor muscles. You will also engage your obliques to some extent but you should likely not expect too much from this.
To make flutter kicks more challenging, adjustable ankle weights can be a good choice.
Knee-to-elbows, also known as bicycle crunches, require slightly more coordination. However, once you get the hang of them, they can be a great ab wheel alternative.
Take the following steps to do a knee-to-elbow:
- Lie down on your back and put your hands on the sides of your head.
- Raise your thighs and fold your legs so that you have two 90-degree angles. Push your lower back against the ground.
- Turn your body and raise your shoulders so that you can reach with one elbow to the knee of the opposite side. At the same time, you want to stretch the leg of the side of the elbow you are mainly moving.
- Return to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same movement from step 3 but mainly move your other elbow.
Similar to ab wheel rollouts, knee-to-elbows work your obliques, abs, and hip flexor muscles.