The Ab Roller is a product that started out early in the fitness infomercial phenomenon.
I can’t tell you how many of these things I’ve seen at people’s garage sales or tossed to the curb on garbage day!
I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that The Ab Roller’s been around for almost 20 years and was the first infomercial fitness product to reach one billion in sales! That might be impressive from a sales & marketing perspective, but…
Does The Ab Roller Work?
I’m guessing since you’re reading this, you’ve seen the commercial where you simply lie down on the floor, place your head in the support and your arms in the cradle, and crunch away.
The big selling point for using the Ab Roller is that the stress is taken off your neck and you’re better able to focus on your abs.
The real reason why you experience neck and back pain while doing crunches is because of poor technique. What the Ab Roller is doing is guiding your technique and supporting your head.
You can execute pain-free crunches by keeping your head and neck in neutral position throughout the exercise. But, if you can’t resist the urge to tug at your neck, place both hands beside your ears with just your fingertips touching them instead of behind your head.
The Ab Roller Evolution vs. The Ab Roller
The Ab Roller Evolution is what has replaced the original Ab Roller. Both essentially look the same, but the Evolution his constructed to flip upside down so that you can use it as push-up handles or dipping bars. Also, the Evolution has small, vertical bars on either side of the headrest for weigh plates. You can place your own free weight plates on there to increase resistance, thereby cranking up your workout intensity.
The American Council on Exercise completed a 2001 study that evaluated the Ab Roller and compared its effectiveness against conventional floor crunches. The results indicated that the Ab Roller does not trigger significantly more activity in the rectus abdominus and oblique’s than do conventional floor crunches.
Something else to note is that although the Ab Roller Evolution offers an effective workout for your chest, arms, shoulders and core – it neglects your back.
The ability to add extra weight is a useful feature, but you could do this just as easily, without purchasing any extra equipment, by holding a weight plate against your chest as you do crunches.
The other thing you need to understand is this: six pack abs can be built and remain hidden under fat! You might be doing a superb job of exercising your abdominals, and training them religiously, but you can still end up having a chubby looking belly.
Ultimately, you’ll need to lose the belly fat before, during or after you’ve built those phenomenal muscles. It’s a two pronged approach of losing the pudge and toning the muscles. That requires a combination of both diet and exercise.
So while you are figuring out how it is you are going to train to get the midsection you want, you’ll need to look into what dietary changes to make to support your goal.
Although this product had a good concept, it really doesn’t translate into a worthwhile product. Yes, many of you may feel a strain in your neck while performing crunches, but with the right training and progressions, you can easily overcome this.
Furthermore, neck strain usually occurs at the beginning of a new fitness training program and is due to the muscles of your neck being weak and likely deconditioned from poor habits in your daily life.
In fact, the Ab Roller Evolution might actually weaken your neck muscles because it provides too much support. It’s like having someone hold your head up while you crunch.
There are a bunch of copy-cat products out there like the Ab Shaper, Ab Trainer Club Pro, Ab roller Plus, Kettler Ab Roller, Tunturi Power Ab Roller, PowerTech GTI Deluxe Ab Roller (that name really makes me laugh) and I could go on…
Regardless of how slick the name is, they all look pretty similar because they just copied the original Ab Roller or the Evolution – and none of them are any better.
If you want to use specialized ab apparatus to focus on flattening your belly, there are far better pieces of equipment out there than the Ab Roller Evolution. Look into Investing into a quality piece of machinery or just stick with doing unassisted ab exercises.
If you still really do want one, you can find good deals on Amazon: