Core exercises are a dime-a-dozen in your social media feed. There are many ways to target this vital area, some effective and some not. The dull and practical core exercises get neglected in the attention for eyeballs, while the new cool core exercise on the block gets all the love. One of those neglected exercises is the ab rollout.

To the uninitiated, it seems easy and doesn’t do much. All you do is roll up and back while keeping your back straight, but wait until you try it. The ab rollout strengthens your core in the lengthened position and challenges you eccentrically and concentrically.

That’s a fancy way of saying it’s difficult, and you’ll feel a new level of soreness afterward. Suppose you’re a fan of challenging exercises and don’t mind paying the soreness price. In that case, you’ll love this variation by Nick Tumminello, a Master Trainer in Boca Raton, Florida.

Nick is the author of Strength Zone Training and has worked with clients from the NFL, NBA, and MMA. He really knows his stuff.  Here, Tumminello brings you his tough ab rollout variation, the medicine ball rollout.

Why Regular Ab Rollouts Work

The dull, boring, and effective core exercises should always stay in style. Here’s why Tumminello uses the classic ab rollout and his variation with all his clients.

 “Ab rollouts are great because they train your abs in a more extended range of motion, which increases muscle and strength. Furthermore, you don’t flex your spine like when you do traditional or variations of crunches or sit-ups.

“This exercise can help you gain muscle faster because research shows that isometric exercises force our muscles to work at longer muscle lengths, which is what the ab rollout does, and can translate to nearly three times as much muscle growth,” says Tumminello.

Benefits of The Medicine Ball Rollout

Because the ab rollout seems simple, some lifters think more range of motion is better. However, this comes at the price of losing position and putting your lower back at risk. Tumminello explains that this is why he came up with the med ball rollout.

“The med ball rollout is better than the traditional ab rollout in two ways.

First, it’s safer. Many people have hurt their backs using the ab wheel because they went out too far. In my version, that won’t happen because you have better control over how far out you go since the ball doesn’t roll nearly as quickly as the wheel.

Secondly, it gives you more bang for your training buck because it also works your triceps and lats to walk your hands back. “ says Tumminello.

Medicine Ball Rollout Form Tips

The key to the ab rollout and its variations is keeping your shoulders down and back and your spine neutral. Here, Tumminello suggests a few more form tips to get the best out of this exercise.

  1.     The further out you go, the more challenging it is. So, only go out as far as you can without feeling pressure in your lower back or allowing your lower back to sag towards the floor.
  2.     As you get out as far as you think you can go, squeeze your glutes and pull the ball back toward you. Squeezing your glutes creates a posterior pelvic tilt, which will cause your abs to work even harder because you’re better able to engage your abs.
  3.     If you can’t squeeze your glutes with your arms extended out, you’ve exceeded the ROM you can control.

Set and Rep Suggestions

Quality trumps quantity with the med ball rollout because of its challenging nature. Tumminello suggests two to three sets of four to ten reps, and the number of reps you do depends on your strength level. Think of this exercise as doing heavy sets of bench presses, where you can’t do as many reps.