6 Rollout variations for a rigid trunk

Let’s be honest here, some of the most bad ass demonstrations of fitness are related to trunk strength. There are far and few lifts that can’t be limited from a weak trunk and it can be incredibly defeating when you go to crush a lift and have the strength in your legs/upper body but get stopped because you fold in the center.

Rollouts are some of the best trunk exercises for building up a torso to handle high load and stay rigid. In its essence it is a plank with the arms moving, relating it more to other movements where the trunk has to maintain its rigidity and the limbs move. However, for a lifter who has spent a good amount of time working on them, the basic ab wheel rollout can get easy. Thats where the following variations come in.


Ball roll out - this is my starting point for people as the ball puts us into a decreased horizontal angle and makes the difficulty reduced and you can learn to hone the movement.

Ab wheel roll out - the standard ab wheel rollout should be mastered before moving on to the more challenging variations. Key details are learning to control your lower back, pelvis, and rib cage. This should be a plank with arm movement, so keep the hips in place throughout.

Band resisted roll out - The band increases the challenge to the upper body to bring the wheel back in, challenging the anterior core musculature to resist the extension force coming from the lats.

Split stance ab wheel rollout - Transitioning from both knees to the split stance reduces the inherent stability of the exercise by lengthening out the contact points. Due to the placement of the foot in relation to the knee, it also increases the rotational aspect of the exercise, not usually challenged in the roll out. It is a good means to also begin working towards the ab wheel rollout off the toes.

Roller roll out - Changing the implement to the roller, we can find a medium point between the kneeling position and being on the toes. The roller doesn’t go out as far as the wheel does, and we are able to bend arms more easily, reducing the demand on the upper body and putting more stress to the trunk.

Eccentric standing roll out - progressing to controlling an eccentric lower off the toes allows a means for overloading the movement, then dropping to the knees for pulling back in. You should aim for lowering out as far as you can without losing your trunk position, then just before you’re about to lose it, drop to your knees. This puts a higher stress on trunk than we’d be able to offer through the kneeling version.

Move well, lift heavy, stay healthy,

The Strength Therapist

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