From Steven Low’s excellent book, Overcoming Gravity, we have decided to visualise and explain a progression which will give great core strength and stability and is built around a piece of calisthenics equipment known as an ab wheel. The ab wheel workout is basically added resistance to a crunch where your bodyweight works against your core.

ab wheel progression

ab wheel progression

Step 1 – Plank (25s)

The plank position is a great way to quickly build core stability. Balance on your forearms and toes while keeping your torso parallel to the ground. Hold the first step for 25 seconds.

Step 2 – Plank (60s)

You may have to re-do the first step a number of times to be able to hold this, but for step 2, to build more strength and stability you must hold the plank position for 60 seconds.

Step 3 – 1 Arm 1 Leg Plank

Your core will now be working in the plank position not only to support the position but to hold balance in this more difficult set up. Plank with your left and on the floor as well as your left leg. This will be a much more difficult position in which to hold a plank position with the balancing responsibilities now resting more firmly on your core.

Step 4 – Kneeling Ab Wheel

This is the first exercise in the progression involving a wheel. Go on to your knees and grip the handles of the wheel with both hands. Allow it to roll forward until your torso is parallel to the ground and then roll back to the starting position.

Step 5 – Ramp Ab Wheel

The extra resistance here is given by gravity putting further strain on your core. Find some kind of ramp of sloped surface and kneel at the top of it. Allow the wheel to roll down the hill until your torso is parallel to the slope and roll back up.

Step 6 – Standing Negative Wheel

Here begins the truly difficult core stuff. Begin in the bottom position of step 4 with your torso parallel to the ground holding the wheel but with the balls of your feet on the floor. Roll backwards with the wheel until you are standing on your feet and bending over while still holding the wheel. Control this movement back to the starting position and repeat.

Step 7 – 1 Arm 1 Leg Wheel

Back to the evil balancing act of step 3. This time hold the wheel with your right hand and have your left foot on the floor. Slowly control the motion down until your torso is parallel to the ground in the previous 1 arm plank position and roll back up. This one will really test your core strength.

There are many other exercises that can be done with an ab wheel. Here are some more examples and variations:


Go Back to Progressions.


and if you are looking for a proven calisthenic training program then check out Getting Started With Calisthenics

ab wheel progression

ab wheel progression


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