Ab Wheel Training For Real
I have been continuing to experiment with the Ab Wheel. It is by far my favorite piece of equipment for training the core right now. Here are a few reasons why.
1. It Works a LARGE Portion of the Body
The Ab Wheel is similar to a dynamic plank – you must create tension from the shoulder area to the knee area. Because of this large amount of muscle that is working, I find basic Ab Wheel roll-outs to be a great warm-up, and I often use it at the beginning of workouts as a bridge from my general to specific warm-up.
2. It is not ONLY Hip Flexion
So many abdominal exercises involve hip and trunk flexion – sit-ups, leg raises, crunches – all of them involve drawing the hips and rib cage closer together, potentially causing shortening of the hip flexors. I sit down so much while I work and drive, my hip flexors are short enough, so I avoid doing that movement pattern in training as well. This is something to keep in mind if you sit down a lot and your back hurts – it could be due to tight hip flexors.
3. It Doesn’t Hurt My Neck
For whatever reason, in the past I have strained my neck doing ab movements. Whether it is from hooking my hands around my head, clenching my teeth together, or whatever – it has happened, and a strained neck is one of the most annoying things for me, so I look to avoid it like venereal disease.
With these three benefits considered, the Ab Wheel continues to be something I include in my training on a regular basis.
Plus, in the long-term, I want to be able to do a Standing Ab Wheel Roll-out. It seems to be an advanced feat for this simple device, and I think if I were to train to obtain it, it would be a “Gateway Feat,” in that my core would be so strong that the increased strength would assist in many other lifts as well.
With this in mind, I have been looking for ways to gradually increase the difficulty of the more basic ab-wheel roll-outs in order to progress more smoothly to the more advanced movements.
One drill I have come up with that I have not seen elsewhere is Decline Ab Wheel Roll-outs. For these, you set the Ab Wheel up on some sort of decline, instead of a flat surface.
There are two main strength building benefits to performing roll-outs on a decline:
1. The eccentric challenge level as you roll out is increased greatly, as you must stay engaged in order to control the descent. This gives you much better stability than the basic exercise does.
2. The concentric challenge level is BRUTAL as you must pull much harder to climb back up the hill. This teaches you to pull much harder with the shoulders, lats, and core when returning to the starting position.
Decline Ab Wheel Roll-outs
There are surely many ways you could set this exercise up. One way that I think would be perfect is with an inside pitching mound, such as the one below, to begin with.
However, instead of busting out the nails, hammer and circular saw, I just dragged an extra gym mat out to the hill beside the house and used mother nature to my advantage.
As you can tell by my screams and grunts, this version of Ab Wheel Roll-outs is no joke. Far harder than the basic exercise, this one will hit you hard.
Even if you don’t go for the more advanced movements with the Ab Wheel, this piece of equipment is a great investment for those with home gyms. For about $10, it takes up no room and leaves every muscle in your core absolutely destroyed.
Get your Ab Wheel here: Valeo Ab Wheel
All the best in your training,
Braced Bending DVD: Bend Everything from Steel Bars, to Frying Pans, to Hammers and Wrenches
Tags: ab training, ab workouts, abdominals, core strength, core training
Posted in bodyweight training, core training workouts, core workouts for athletes, how to develop strength, strength training to improve athletic performance, strength training to prevent injury | No Comments »
Perfect Tool for Core Strength
4 Days ago, I did the drill I am going to show you today, and I am STILL SORE.
Normally, I wouldn’t judge the effectiveness of an exercise by whether or not it made me sore, but consider the following…
I have been doing Ab Wheel work for several months. I have been working it HARD.
I did 10 sets of 10 Roll-outs on my knees one day while I was on vacation, so I thought I was getting where I needed to be.
Then, last Friday, I set this drill up and 4 days later my abs are still cooked. That just goes to show you how vicious this exercise is, and why you should start doing it right now.
Standing Ab Wheel Roll-out Training
If you are looking for a way to build core strength, get stability for the lower back, strengthen the hips, and build your abdominal muscles, the only real piece of equipment that you need is the Ab Wheel.
Over the last 4 months or so, I have been including the Ab Wheel in my training on at least a weekly basis and I love it. I have written several articles about the Ab Wheel this year and will be continuing to experiment with it.
- How to Use the Ab Wheel Correctly
- Back and Triceps Training
- The Perfect Tool to Compliment Your Kettlebell Training
I would say my experimentation is still in its infancy, although the ideas that are going through my head are non-stop. I am doing my best to get them onto my ever-growing note pad, and hope to one day compile everything for you.
I have decided that one of my goals I hope to complete before the end of this year is a Full Ab Wheel Roll-out on the Feet.
As I am sure many of you know if you have tried one of these variations, the difference in difficulty between Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Knees and Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Feet is crazy. These two drills are not even in the same galaxy.
For Full Ab Wheel Roll-outs on the Feet, you must have much more abdominal strength, you must be much more stable through the core and the hips, and your shoulders must be able to with stand a great deal force in the full flexed position as well.
All of these factors, plus more that I am surely over-looking, make the Ab Wheel Roll-out version on the Feet much harder.
I have begun implementing more Ab Wheel work on my feet and moving away from Ab Wheel work on my knees altogether.
Today I want to show you a very promising progression step I have been using for working up to the Full Ab Wheel Roll-out on the Feet, and it involves using bands.
Someone asked how to do this method if you do not have bands. My answer to them is GET BANDS.
Bands are useful for countless exercises and methods. There are innumerable ways they can be used to make exercises easier, harder, and to de-load or assist you in bodyweight movements.
If you do not have a set, here are a couple of places to get them:
Again, if you don’t have bands, I really have to ask why. They are very affordable and the myriad of ways that they can be used make them very high in value. The links above are affiliate links. When you order through them, you will not only be getting yourself some training tools that you will use in countless ways, but you will also be helping me out with some commissions. Although they are small, it all helps me continue to improve this site and keep it available as a source of reliable information.
Keep an eye on new updates on my pursuit for legit Standing Ab Wheel Roll-outs by joining my Ab Wheel Roll-out Update List below.
If you don’t have an Ab Wheel yet, you can get one here: Where to Buy an Ab Wheel
All the best in your training,
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Tags: ab wheel, ab wheel roll-outs, ab wheel rollouts, standing ab wheel roll-outs, standing ab wheel rollouts
Posted in bodyweight training, core training workouts, core workouts for athletes, feats of strength, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve strength | 1 Comment »
The Ab Wheel
I recently wrote an article for My Mad Methods on the Ab Wheel, and since then, many people have contacted about it. It seems that many of you have thought the Ab Wheel was a bogus device that was just a scam or fad, but in reality, it is a very good piece of equipment that comes with a very cheap price tag – I got mine for less than $9.
For the record, I always thought the Ab Wheel was joke too. But that was before I ever used it. The first time I tried it, I could not do one good rep on my knees.
History of the Ab Wheel
What gave it even more credibility for me was when my friend, Niko Hulslander, told me that Bob Backlund, legendary Champion of the WWWF back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, based his workouts primarily around the Ab Wheel.
Now, Bob Backlund wasn’t as big as Superstar Billy Graham, who held the title before Backland, and he wasn’t anywhere near the size of a more recent Bobby Lashley, Dave Batista, or John Cena by any means, but he was always in top shape, and perhaps second only to Ric Flair in their hay-days.
Plus, Backlund is still in phenomenal shape to this day, and the Ab Wheel continues to be one of his primary forms of resistance training.
While I am sure Backlund used other types of training to attain his level of muscularity and leanness, there is no denying that the Ab Wheel is able to make the entire body work, because it is essentially a Plank on Steroids.
Bob Backlund Training on the Ab Roller
I’m coming after you, Backlund!!
How to Implement the Ab Wheel
I am sure there are hundreds of ways to add Ab Wheel work into your training program, but I can tell you that I like to use it on my Back and Triceps day. If you haven’t tried training these two together, you should – the feeling is unbelievable.
Generally, one of my first movements on this day is either Pull-ups or Chin-ups, and I superset them with Ab Wheel for 6 to 8 reps. Surely, I could do much more of this, but I train this day with a partner and if we went for more than 8 reps, it would take up way too much time and mess up the rotation, so we stick with 6 to 8.
In addition, if you do your Ab Wheel reps the right way, it becomes the perfect bridge between the Lats and Triceps. The reason is because you can use your Lats and Triceps together to explosively pull your extended body back to the starting position. This explosiveness wakes the Triceps up so they can start getting worked, and it further excites the Lats, allowing you to get deeper pulls on your Pull-ups or Chin-ups.
Of course, as I stated, you have to be doing the Ab Wheel exercise correctly in order to get this benefit out of the movement. That leads me to the next section.
Ab Wheel Technique
One of my best friends from college, Chris Christian, recently began implementing Ab Wheel into his routines. I used to train like an all-out Savage Beast with this guy back in college. I was happy to hear he was getting an Ab Wheel, but I also was concerned because he did a stretch of service for our country in Afghanistan, I believe, several years ago and ended up hurting his back. So I asked him to shoot a video of him doing them, just to make sure he was doing them properly and not putting too much stress on his back.
Turns out, his technique was just a little off, so I shot a quick video for him last night and uploaded it to YouTube. It turns out there were others doing the exercise incorrectly, and putting too much strain on their backs as well, so I am sharing the video here for all of you, too.
Demonstration of How to Use the Ab Wheel Correctly
Sorry for the weird abrupt ending. The battery died right at the end…
Look, this piece of equipment is bad-ass, even if you just stick with the basic technique, on your knees. My goals is to work up to performing the reps on my toes. It may take some time, but I will get there.
If you want to get an Ab Wheel, they are readily available at most fitness stores, I saw one this past weekend at Play-it-Again Sports, and you can find them on Amazon: Valeo Ab Wheel<= That link will take you to them.
Grab one up, give them a try and let me know what you think of the Ab Wheel.
All the best in your training.
Learn How to Bend Horseshoes with the Hammering Horseshoes DVD
I recently got this note from Rob Russell about a charity event he is holding very soon. It sounds like it’ not only going to be awesome, but very challenging as well. Check it out and please give if you can. I have donated a couple of ebooks, the Nail Bending eBook and the Card Tearing eBook.
Jedd, I love challenges and the tougher the better! I’ve been training for many years now and been down just about every avenue possible.
Over the last 7 years I’ve taken up many forms of non-conventional training, kettlebells mainly, along with strongman, maces, sandbags, grip training and over the last 2 years heavy sledgehammer training.
The first person I ever saw swinging a heavy sledgehammer was John Brookfield, it looked so brutal I knew I had to get one of my own (a 25kg one to be precise). Initially training with it was really hard, until I learned the technique and shortened the handle. In 2009 I was inspired by kettlebell and sledgehammer fanatic Stepf Dogman to go for a 1 hour sledgehammer challenge after seeing this guy weighing in at only 69kg strike a tire 520 times with a 20kg hammer. I managed 791 reps on my first challenge for a charity that I support.
October 15th sees me return aiming to break the 1000 rep barrier (that’s roughly 17 strikes/min). I have been training since May and racked up over 13,000 strikes over nearly 60 sessions. The basis of my training has been 10 min sessions 3 times per week, setting off at 10 reps/min increasing by 1 rep per week until I hit 20 reps/min for 10 mins then I started upping the length of my sessions. I knew 1000 reps was going to be a tall order so I thought starting early would get me a great base to work from.
The carryover from hammer training to repetition snatching has been great too, I recently did a new best in the 24kg 10 min snatch test with 252 reps without any specific kettlebell work, it has also done a great deal for my grip strength (my hammer handle is nearly 2″ thick). The best thing about the training I have been doing is that it’s all been done in my half hour lunch break at work. It’s resulted in being a bit sweaty at work but really gives you a physical and mental boost for the afternoon and allowed me to do other training in the evenings.
My event on the 15th October is for Charity and to boost fundraising I have written my first ebook – ‘Unconventional Conditioning,’ a 45 page book packed with many videos, tips for training and program ideas.
To get hold of this ebook and be entered into a raffle for some strength and fitness goodies I am asking for a 2GBP minimum donation on my nation on my Just Giving Page.
Thanks Rob! This event sounds AWESOME. I can’t imagine how brutally strong your hands, wrists and thumbs are getting from swinging the sledgehammer for such high volume. I know when I take my sledgehammer outside to swing it, my thumbs blow up like hot water bottles. All the best to you with your event – – Jedd
Tags: sledge training, sledgehammer training, strength challenge charity
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, core training workouts, how to buid wrist strength, how to build pinch strength, how to lose fat improve fat loss, how to lose weight and get in better shape, sledge hammer training | No Comments »
Today I have an awesome guest post from Steve Slater. Steve and I teamed up on the Intro to Strongman Training DVD and he recently put together an article on how he approaches Stone Lifting when he works with new guys in the sport. I just did a Strongman Workshop with Steve two weekends ago and he is loaded with knowledge on Strongman. Look for more articles and videos from Steve down the line. Enjoy!
Atlas Stone Training for Beginner Strongman Competitors
Atlas Stones are a fundamental test of strength in many strongman competitions, and they have also become a staple among strength training enthusiasts who are looking for the ultimate strength workout.
Stones literally tax everything from head to toe. In fact, try not contracting any major muscle group like your legs, glutes, back, chest or biceps during a stone lift, and let’s see if the stone even comes off the ground – fat chance.
When it comes to Atlas Stone training, you’ve just got to know how to do it right! So let’s get into that right now.
LEARNING THE STONES
It’s time to get your hands on some stones and get to work.
At first, it can be easy to get frustrated with atlas stones as they fight you the whole way up. Since they are round, they make your job of lifting them very difficult, and once they start to get loose on you, they often win the battle.
Learning how to conquer the atlas stones takes time and requires understanding the proper technique. Once you master the technique you then can really start to work on using the stones to take you to a new level of fitness.
Stone lifting is generally done by pulling the stone from the ground and either placing it on top of a platform or barrel, or it is put over a bar of a designated height (usually 4 feet or higher). Whatever you choose to lift the stone onto or over, make sure that it is stable. Here are some examples of loading strategies we have used.
Normally, we lift the stone over an adjustable strongman yoke bar. We also at times use solid platforms to load several stones one after the other. To make the platforms, we fastened wood pallets on top of each other, and attached plywood to the front and around all sides. We sometimes use whiskey barrels or oil drums, but if you use a barrel watch out for the lip, as it can be a finger pincher.
With all platforms, please use caution making sure the back side of the platform is braced; this will keep the platform stable so it will not tip if the stone hits it. Once you’re more experienced you can work on shouldering the lighter stones. Incidentally, the world record for a shouldered stone is held by Derek Poundstone. In 2009 he shouldered a massive stone in the range of 420 lbs.
If you practice stone shouldering, make sure you use plenty of rubber mats to drop the stones on. At our club we use four of the 5/8” thick stall mats with plywood under them so we can just drop the stones off of our shoulder or the top platforms without damaging the floor or the stones.
As for lifting the stones, there are some basic cautions to be concerned with for safety.
I have seen athletes twist at the top of a stone load. If you are going heavy or you are doing reps to failure for conditioning, once you get the stone to the tip of the platform, do not pause in that top position longer than a few seconds, and do not twist in order to try to get it onto the platform, as accidents have happened at this point before.
HEIGHT OF PLATFORM
If you use a platform for stone loading, for most stone training I think it is best to use a platform that is around sternum height or somewhere below. This is a good position, especially if you are training for a particular sport that requires hip drive and/or triple extension like a football player exploding off the line of scrimmage or a swimmer leaping off the diving block.
As a variation and progression from the normal platform, we also sometimes use a hanging target. It may be a jump stretch band or a large rope hanging from a rafter or a power rack. We dangle the band or rope from the rack as a goal upon which to touch the stone. When you touch the top of the stone to the bottom of the band, you have achieved your goal. You can also have a partner pull the band/rope up slightly after each successful rep, so you try to increase the height on each rep.
LEARNING THE TECHNIQUE
I will discuss the best way that I have found to lift an Atlas Stone, although we all may lift them slightly differently.
In training, strive to keep good form so you can strengthen your body using the safest way of lifting. As for myself, when it comes to lifting the stone, I first position the stone about 6”-8” away from what I may be loading it onto. I then face the Atlas Stone and straddle my feet over it so that my calves are around 1” from it on both sides. I make sure I stand almost directly over the stone so the balls of my feet are positioned at the center point of it.
Next, I squat down to near parallel, grabbing the stone with my arms straight down and hug the center of it with my forearms and hands trying to get my fingers as far under the stone as possible without smashing them. My finger nails will likely be touching the ground at this point.
I then squeeze hard with my fingers, hands, forearms and begin to pull with my legs and entire back. This is when I think of contracting with everything I have. My legs straighten slightly as the stone begins to come up, although the legs are never completely straight. As the stone starts to pass my knees, I then re-bend my knees back into a near parallel squat and I roll the stone onto my lap. If possible, I also may try to walk my feet in slightly. Since I’m resting the stone on my lap, bringing the feet together will position the stone higher on the abdomen when I start the second part of the lift.
From here, I will reposition my hands more towards the top of the stone maybe about 1/3rd of the way up but not all the way on top or the stone will drop down. Your palms will not be facing each other any longer. They are now angled more towards the ground. I squeeze the stone again and press it against my chest so my chin is as far over the stone as possible. Then I will dip forward and down slightly to get a stretch reflex and pull back explosively with my upper body, forcefully standing up and driving my hips forward.
If I am just lifting the stone to the high chest and then returning it to the floor, I try to keep the center of the stone directly over my feet and lean back slightly to keep my balance. If I am loading the stone to a platform or over a marker, then I will propel it upward and forward, as shown in the image above. If loading on the platform, I also quickly reposition my arms just in case I don’t quite make it and I have to push it fully onto the platform.
You now have an idea on technique. Let’s look at how to train with the stones.
For a beginner workout, I suggest you work with a light stone and focus on reps so you get used to the proper technique as well as conditioning your muscles for something they are not used to doing.
Even if you are a very strong athlete, I suggest that you keep to a stone around 200lbs or under to start with. If you are in good condition and you are new to stone lifting, try not to exceed a stone that is anything above 70% of your bodyweight. In other words, if your bodyweight is 100lbs, use about a 70lb stone, or if you weigh around 180lbs you would use about a 130lb stone, plus or minus a few pounds.
Take this stone and load it for 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps and 2-3 times per week for the first three weeks so you work on technique and conditioning. You may be tempted to go heavier, but just remember the best is yet to come so take it slow. Just try to improve your technique with the lighter stone.
For a stone workout that is centered on hardcore conditioning, you might try the following variations. Pick out a lighter stone and break the stone lifting technique down into segments. You will do the following stone lifting segment work for 3 sets of 10 reps.
The first 10 reps will be the LAP, SQUAT, DROP drill. To begin, pick up the stone, LAP it to the SQUAT position and stand up driving hard with the hips, pushing the stone upward and forward as high as you can. Then, DROP the stone on rubber mats and repeat.
For the next 10 reps, try the LAP, SQUAT and RETURN drill. In this drill, you will LAP the stone, SQUAT it up, and then this time RETURN the stone under control to your lap. Do this for 10 reps but DO NOT drop the stone.
Rest again and for the last 10 reps, do the LAP AND DROP drill, lapping the stone and then dropping it back down between your legs. Repeat this for 10 reps.
If you still have some gas in the tank, you might also finish off with 10 reps of bent over rows with an even lighter stone.
Start light with this series of drills because this can leave you exhausted and sore for days.
As you can see, Atlas Stone lifting can be a very beneficial practice that can quickly have you building muscle, burning calories, and becoming more powerful. This is particularly helpful for power and combat athletes that need to drive with the lower body, and also certain professions such as Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers who have to be able to subdue perpetrators.
With all the benefits of stone training, there are some risks involved, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. As you train, start out light and use caution. Also, condition yourself to the stresses of stone lifting. As you progress, you can add equipment into the mix such as loading platforms, hanging targets, and drop areas, and before you know it you will be performing drills for speed, explosiveness, and conditioning. In time, you will be extremely rugged.
For more information on Atlas Stone training and many other types of Strongman Training events, please check out my Strongman DVD, Introduction to Strongman Training. Loaded with technique and safety tips, I can show you how to correctly train like a Strongman or Strongwoman. And whether you ever enter a competition or not, you will definitely be a stronger version of yourself in no time.
Click here for the Introduction to Strongman DVD
Tags: atlas stone lifting, atlas stone training, atlast stones, stone lifting, stone training, stones
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, core training workouts, how to improve fitness and conditioning, stone lifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strongman competition training, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer | 10 Comments »
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