Comfortable on hands. Less shoulder strain. Built-in resistance and ergonomic handles maximize results. Interior kinetic engine uses a carbon steel spring to provide resistance and amplify workout. Ultra-wide wheel tread offers stability during oblique workout. Angled grips activate arm and core muscles. Removable handles. Includes high-density foam kneepad for superior comfort.
Spring-assisted return helps beginners, but takes away from the work your body does.
Smooth and stable. Sturdy. Packable for travel. Double wheel design gives more stability than a single-wheel design and more efficiently works your core. Nonslip handles. Comes fully assembled.
Men with larger hands may want to try another model.
Durable. 2 nonskid wheels for added stability. Easy-grip handles. Easy assembly. Can be used to strengthen and tone abs, shoulder, arms, and back. Lightweight and portable. Fitness guide included.
No spring-assisted return, but this ensures you work your abs harder.
Great traction. Wide wheel with large diameter keeps larger knuckles off the floor. Nonslip rubber wheel securely grips any floor type. Wheel is made of strong stainless steel, nonslip rubber, and durable PVC. Handles made of comfortable EVA foam. Kneepad included. Easy to assemble.
Difficult for beginners to use.
Ultra-wide nonskid wheel. Durable steel coil provides resistance on the way out and a controlled return. Ergonomic pro-grip handles minimize hand fatigue while maximizing control. Not too bulky or heavy. Easy to assemble.
Unidirectional, so take care to put hands on the proper handle.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Flabby abs got you down? Or maybe you’re already sporting a six-pack but want to increase your overall core strength. Either way, an ab wheel should be on your fitness short list.
Ab wheels target the abs but work the back, arms, hips, and leg muscles, too. They’re small enough to fit under a bed or in a closet, and you don’t need to be an exercise guru to figure out how to use one.
If you’re ready to buy an ab wheel but you’re not sure exactly what you want, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a shopping guide with the details and features you need to consider to make an informed decision.
As far as gym equipment goes, ab wheels are relatively small. They are, however, awkwardly shaped, so you do have to consider size and storage space. Most ab wheels have a small enough wheel (five or six inches in circumference) that they can be stored under a bed or tucked away in a closet corner. However, some of the larger models with foot pedals may have a 13-inch wheel.
If you’re looking at a model with a wheel circumference in the double digits, measure your storage space to be sure it will fit.
Number of wheels
When ab wheels first hit the market, they sported a one-wheel design. It didn’t take long for ab enthusiasts to realize that while one wheel is effective, it’s not the stablest design. The more wheels an ab wheel has, the easier it is to balance and stabilize. Single wheels with a wide width also increase stability.
Number of handles
A two-handed ab wheel is the model you are probably most familiar with. It features a wheel or two with handles on either side. But there are also ab wheels that come as a pair. Each ab wheel has a handle set between two wheels, so your hands move independently. These models increase difficulty but also allow for a broader range of exercises.
Beginners should take extra precautions to not roll out too far on the first use. Try placing the ab wheel a foot from a wall on the first roll out. That way, if you lose control, the wall acts as a stopper, preventing injury due to lack of control.
Ab wheels made almost entirely of plastic are lightweight, inexpensive, and provide an adequate workout. However, plastic wheels don’t offer the grip necessary for use on smooth floors unless they have a rubber coating.
Rubber-coated handles are easier to grip and give you better control over your movements. Wheels with rubber treads also have improved grip, which further increases stability.
Foam-coated handles improve grip but aren’t as durable as their rubber counterparts.
Higher-end ab wheels may have an innerspring mechanism to provide resistance. Springs made of stainless or carbon steel provide impressive resistance and have excellent durability. Of course, they also add to the price, but if you’ll be using the ab wheel regularly, it’s probably worth a few extra dollars.
Tread improves the grip of the wheel so you can roll out whether you’re on a smooth surface or carpet. Some models don’t have tread but rely on the natural grip of their rubber wheels. Tread and/or rubber are both adequate ways to keep an ab wheel stable. The models you need to watch out for are the ones with a plastic wheel with no tread. These wheels often slide across the floor instead of roll, which reduces the effectiveness of the workout.
Handle and grip design
Handles with a rubber or foam coating are easier to grip, especially as your hands start to get sweaty. Some handles have molded finger grips for improved hand placement. Others have ergonomic handles to relieve pressure on your wrists.
Foot pedals will either be mounted to or built into the handle near the wheel. Once you clip your feet in, you can target new areas of the abs, legs, back, and arms that you can’t reach with a regular ab wheel. Some foot pedals are removable, but even if they’re not, you can still use the handles for a normal roll out.
Some ab wheels provide internal resistance to increase the workout intensity. These models have an internal spring mechanism that applies resistance. Some single-handle ab wheels are attached to a knee pad via a resistance band that increases resistance as the wheel is moved away from the body.
Ab wheels may come with a long list of accessories, which can add to the value.
Knee pad: These are often made of the same rubber as yoga mats but are small enough to fit directly under the knees.
Weighted jump rope: Ab wheels often come as part of a full body exercise kit that also includes a weighted jump rope for aerobic exercise.
Resistance bands: Like jump ropes, resistance bands are often part of a full body workout kit.
Workout guidebook or instructional DVD: Models that include a guidebook or DVD give you everything you need to get started. But don’t fret if the model you want doesn’t have either of these extras as there are plenty of instructional videos and guides online.
Push-up bars: Ab wheels work the shoulders and triceps, but add a push-up bar and you’ve got a full upper body workout. If the ab wheel has foot pedals, you can even do push-ups while balancing your feet on the ab wheel.
Ab wheels have moving parts. Pull back your hair and tuck in any loose clothing that could potentially get caught in the wheel.
Protect your knees. Ab wheels often come with a knee pad, but if the model you choose doesn’t, you can purchase a knee pad separately or use a yoga mat in a pinch.
For less than $15, you’ll find ab wheels with a plastic wheel and knee pad. The wheel may have tread and foam or rubber on the handles.
In the $15 to $30 price range are single- and double-wheeled models with rubber tread and ergonomic handles with finger grips. These ab wheels may also be part of a kit that could include resistance bands and a knee pad.
Between $30 and $50 are ab wheels with foot pedals. Wheels are larger in this category, with innerspring resistance technology being far more common. These models are also more likely to be part of a full exercise kit that includes a jump rope, push-up bars, and resistance bands.
Ergonomics with high-tech resistance
Ergonomic handles with two wide, rubber-coated wheels make this an easy-to-use ab wheel. But don’t let the ease of the design lull you into thinking it won’t provide an incredible workout. It also has a carbon steel innerspring mechanism to increase resistance. Best of all, the handles are removable for easy storage.
An ab wheel requires lower back strength. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some lower back strengthening exercises before you can fully use the ab wheel.
You can use an ab wheel in a modified plank position on your knees. Like push-ups, rolling while on your knees is easier and puts less pressure on the lower back. You can then progress to a full plank position.
Wheels have moving parts, so hair and threads can get caught. Try to keep your workout area clean and occasionally wipe down the ab wheel to prevent a slippery film of dust from forming.
Simplicity with excellent traction
A single, rubber-coated wheel and a foam-enhanced grip make this ab wheel an effective wheel at a reasonable price. It may only have a single wheel, but the wide width adds stability so you’re not wobbling on the roll out or return. It comes with a knee pad, so you’re ready to go as soon as you open the box.
We love sifting through all the options, but, unfortunately, we can’t put everything we love on our top five list. However, here’s a couple of ab wheels we considered that might be perfect for you. The Lifeline Power Wheel is really the ultimate ab wheel. The 13-inch wheel has foot pedals and handles so it can be used to work both the upper and lower body. It’s not small, so make sure you have the storage space. For those who want to shake up their roll out, the SKLZ Core Wheels Dynamic Strength and Ab Trainer is an excellent pair of ab wheels. This set lets you roll out each side of the body independently. They’re also small enough to stash or pack anywhere.
Q. Do ab wheels pose any health or safety risks?
A. As with any type of fitness equipment, proper use and form are key to safety. If used improperly, an ab wheel can strain the muscles and ligaments in the lower back. That’s why it’s so important to keep the back straight and taut while using the wheel. Pay attention to how your body feels and don’t extend beyond the strength of your lower back. The more you use the ab wheel, the stronger and further you’ll be able to push yourself.
Q. Is balancing an ab wheel difficult?
A. Ab wheels do require some balance and stability. It’s best to start with small movements until you become accustomed to how the ab wheel feels and works. Extend your reach by a few inches each day, and with time your strength and balance will grow.
Q. Can I do more than roll out my abs?
A. Ab wheels are far more versatile than many people realize. They can be used to target the obliques, hip flexors, quads, and glutes, especially when using models with foot pedals. The shoulders, upper back, and arms also get a workout as you balance over the wheel. There are workout guides and YouTube videos online to help you discover the many ways you can fully utilize an ab wheel.
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