Conquering The Standing Ab Wheel Pt.1

Dustin Myers


In my humble (and incredibly strong core) opinion, the Standing Ab Wheel is one of, if not the toughest core exercises known to man.

As someone who has regularly done high rep sets of the kneeling Ab Wheel for the past 25 years, it was only until recent years that I was finally able to conquer the standing version.  So what makes the standing wheel so much tougher than the traditional one?  By taking your knees off the ground you dramatically increase the distance from the wheel to the other contact point (now your feet) which puts your body at a major mechanical disadvantage.  Even if your lats, serratus and triceps are strong enough to pull the wheel back under your chest, chances are that your lower back and abdominals will collapse under the strain when you are at the most extended point.


The solution?  Get every muscle involved in this movement stronger and bullet proof your midsection.  Here are 6 great accessory exercises that will help you develop the strength necessary to conquer the Standing Ab Wheel.


1. Weighted Hyper Extension

Using a 45 degree hyper extension, hang your arms straight down and grab either a set of dumbbells or a stack of plates.  Arch up until your spine is straight, squeezing your glutes at the top.  Slowly relax to starting position.  Do not bounce or over extend.  Alternate days between 5 sets of 20 with a light weight and 3 x 5 with heavy weight.


2. Dumbbell Pullovers

Lay across a bench with your hips lower than your shoulders.  Grasp a heavy dumbbell and lower it behind you until you feel a stretch thru your lats and upper abs.  Avoiding too big of a bend in the elbows, breathe out and return the dumbbell to starting position.  Do 3 sets of 6, after either a chest or back workout.


3. Straight Arm Lat Pull Holds

Stand in front of a cable with a tricep rope attached.  Grab the rope with a straight arm grip, arch your back (sticking your butt out slightly) and pull the rope down to your thighs without bending your arms.  Stick your chest up and retract your shoulder blades, squeezing your lats as you pause at the bottom position for 5 seconds.  complete 3 sets of 3 pause reps.


4. Hollow Body Holds

Lay on your back with your arms extended up overhead and touching the floor.  “Push” your abs down so the your low back completely touches the floor.  Flex your abs to hold this position as you raise your legs slightly and lift your hands a few inches off of the floor.  Hold the position until you feel your lower back loose contact (even slightly) with the floor.


5. Tricep Rope Crunches

Kneel down and grab a tricep rope from directly overhead.  Crunch forward, keeping your hips upright and bringing your elbows towards the middle of your thighs.  Control your movement on the way up, arching until you feel a stretch across your abs.  Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with heavy weight.


There are some exercises to increase your preparedness for this legendary core crusher.  In part 2 I will provide you with some actual ab wheel progressions to help you get to the next level.


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