Are an ab wheel and plank exercises a good replacement for the good old but boring crunches? What effects are better and what it cannot replace?

  • That depends on what your goals are.
    – rrirower
    Dec 28, 2015 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


The ab-wheel and products like it can give you much faster results than crunches and sit-ups alone. I would advise that you have to have almost perfect form when using wheel type products and must hold your abdominal muscles tight when pulling and pushing as well as focusing on maintaining a solid posture and working slowly. It is easy to hurt yourself when using these types of aides, I would not recommend them if you are not already in fairly decent shape with good to very strong arms, chest walls, abdominal muscles and supporting lower back musculature. They can be very challenging, consider first a sit-up bench. They are designed for ergonomics and with some care taken can easily give you the same results as well as offering the options to add weight on your chest or in your hands and being able to target "spare tires". As far as planking goes if you are not attempting very dangerous places to plank then it is always a good exercise for any spare time. I find in between television programs and during commercials its a good time killer. Always keep your core tight, back straight, and work on breathing and maintaining as long as possible.

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    I'll admit to some curiosity... do you have a basis for it beinf more effective?
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 29, 2015 at 3:46
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    Physical Trainer, Coach, Firefighter 11+ years. On the job injury 9 years ago pushed me to attempt every product out there to keep up with abs and lower back without increasing back pain. Ab roller was horribly painful until i had my supportive muscles built properly. still a very hard exercise, many clients have trouble with it as well. The benches and planking together have repeatedly given same results and many better than a wheel or sit-ups and crunches alone.
    – L. Samson
    Dec 29, 2015 at 3:59
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    Not bad products, just annoyed that ads show very fit folks using them with ease. The average american even in shape will struggle if using a wheel properly. And stress put on wrists and shoulders can be uncomfortable and dangerous if underlying issues exist, IE. carpal tunnel, tendinitis, cuff weakness/tears, neck and shoulder strains, etc. Had two clients swear by an ab-roller and seemed to maintain nice form, however, i will mention both were amateur wrestling and spent close to thirty hours in the gym a week faithfully. They we also amateur lifters with other fitness related activities.
    – L. Samson
    Dec 29, 2015 at 4:07
  • great answer, i completely agree that ab wheels are on the advanced side, and i've stopped recommending them for anyone who can't do dips/heavy-ish squats/etc. welcome to stackexchange @L.Samson
    – Eric
    Dec 29, 2015 at 12:29

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