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Feeling Ab Wheel Rollouts in Lower Back



I have introduced ab wheel rollouts to my routine. When I do them, I can feel them working my abs (obviously) but also my lower back a lot. Is this normal or a compensation for a weakness somewhere else (abs maybe?)?


na it’s bad juju, and most likely means you’re hyperextending your spine. Don’t do that. You’re right to think it’s a weakness in your abs (core, technically, but whatevs).

Tensing your glutes is a must, but if you’re doing that and it’s still hurting then it’s probably the case that the exercise is too advanced for you.

If that’s what’s up then regress the movement until you’re strong enough


Thanks for the quick response.

I did think it was weakness in the core to be honest (hence why I have introduced them to begin with) but I’d like to clarify that they’re not hurting, I can just feel the muscles in my back working hard too.

Assuming this is still bad, can you think of an alternative exercise that works the same muscles with the same mechanics but isn’t quite as advanced?

Thanks again


Ah ok, well if there’s no pain then there’s no massive problem in my opinion. Your core is like a box and the lower back is an important part of that box, so it’ll get worked every time you’re bracing your spine. I think if you are feeling them more in your back than in your abs then you have a problem.

In terms of regression, you can do rollouts on bigger things. A swiss ball is a good start, then from the you can move to doing them standing, then try a medicine ball, then the roller. There’s probably other intermediate steps you could take but that’s the first ones that spring to my tiny mind.

Swiss ball jacknives are a good anti-extension/hip flexion with a neutral spine exercise that I think are underrated.


Thanks. I will look into it and also wait to see if anybody pops up with other suggestions/advice. Much appreciated.


How do you progress to a full rollout?


never done it, nor coached anyone to do it, mate. If I was to give it a go I’d get super good at sets of rollouts on my knees (like 20 reps).

Next step’d be kneeling on an aerobics step or something. This is as far as I’ve gotten in the past.

The problem then is the jump from kneeling to standing is fucking huge in terms of difficulty, even with the step of using the, well, step. I was never patient enough with it and have always given up at this point.

How I think I’d approach it though were I to give it another try would be some sort of ROM progression, gradually letting the reps get deeper as you get stronger. I know some people do this using a wall to stop the roller getting out too far. I dunno; seems like a recipe just to go slamming roller-first into the wall, but having never tried it I can’t really comment on it.

So, for what it’s worth, that’s what I’d do.

Someone like @Chris_Colucci would probably be able to coach it better than I.


Way I went from doing them with about 30 cm of motion and then falling over to now doing them for 4 x 10 like nose to floor was rom progression as Yogi said. Start a set distance from a wall that’s comfortable and then pause at wall then back. Increase rom from the wall until you can do it without going into a wall and just stop and reverse motion yourself. Takes a lot of time.


Thanks @Yogi1 and @hugh_gilly. This was really helpful👌


FWIW, ROM progression pretty much is the standard. You can also stick with the on-the-knees rollouts and use hand walkouts and/or fallouts as “assistance” work to build strength in that “arms out/overhead” fully extended position.

You can also play with foot width for the standing ab wheel. A wider stance (think sumo dead-ish) will be less challenging than standing at military attention with your heels touching.


Ab work definitely doesn’t need to be advanced or complicated to be effective. Pallof presses and/or iso-holds and all sorts of plank variations can work well for general “core” work.

Stir-the-pots might work well as an ab wheel substitute, since it has some dynamic movement along with the stability demands.


I could them at 200lb . I found 1 arm presses ups and their variations had a lot of carryover. That and I would say swings not sure way but there is something about stabilising a swinging load. I used to a lot of barbell/dumbbell one snatches and cleans too. I think just being all round strong and lean in the big lifts would probably allow you to do it.