In your quest to sculpting rock-hard abs, you may have found yourself wondering about the benefits of certain training accessories to assist you.
Though, is equipment better than simply utilizing bodyweight?
On one hand, equipment like ab rollers can offer a very easy and effective way to work the midsection, but on the other hand, bodyweight movements such as crunches are a staple in any core workout.
This article explores the pros and cons of both ab rollers and crunches, and which is better for building your core.
Firstly, let’s look at why having a strong core is so important, even more so than having visually sculpted abs!
The Importance of a Strong Core
While having a 6-pack of abs can look fit and healthy, there are many more benefits to having a sculpted midsection.
A strong core can help improve balance, decrease the risk of injury, and support the spine during forceful movements. Posture and stability play a key role in our everyday life as well as fitness-related activities, and having a strong core can make doing these activities easier and safer.
This is why it’s important to incorporate some core workouts into your training regimen. While many workouts you may do in the gym will work your core, dedicating some additional time to work solely on core strength and stability would go a long way.
So, let’s take a look at the benefits of introducing some kit into our core workouts!
The Pros of Ab Rollers
You’ll likely find ab rollers in the pile of loose kit and equipment in your local gym.
Ab rollers are essentially a wheel with handles on either side. They can be used to perform several exercises that target different muscles in the midsection.
This is one of the main benefits of using an ab roller - it allows you to work different angles of your core, helping to build overall strength.
Ab rollers can work all four layers of our abdominals:
- The transverses abdominis, which is our innermost muscles of the abs that help keep our spine stable and compress the ribs and organs
- The multifidus muscle and erector spinae, which are the deep muscles in the back that run alongside our spines vertebrae
- The internal and external obliques, which functions primarily as an accessory to the diaphragm, helping to support breathing
- The rectus abdominis, the superficial top layer, otherwise known as your six-pack!
Ab rollers are a much tougher approach to a core workout, and can often be considered an intermediate to advanced movement. This is because there is little to no waist flexion during the rollout, which allows our torso to stay rigid.
Though, with a little practice, anyone can use an ab roller and reap the benefits of a stronger core and improved stability.
The Cons of Ab Rollers
Although ab rollers have their upsides, there are some drawbacks.
This is particularly true if you are new to exercise. As mentioned, ab roller exercises tend to be more suitable for intermediate to advanced gym-goers.
Additionally, they work a lot of muscles at once, which can be quite overwhelming if you’re new to exercise.
Using an ab roller may also put pressure on your shoulders and back, which can increase the risk of injuries if you are not conditioned enough for the strain of the movement.
Despite this piece of kit looking so simple and easy to use, it can be challenging to use. You may want to substitute ab rolling exercises for something less intense and straining.
The Pros of Crunches
Introducing the crunch - one of the best, most effective ab exercises.
These are a great option for beginners and advanced athletes alike, particularly as you can regress or progress this movement to suit your fitness level and ability.
The crunch is a simple movement that only requires an exercise mat for some cushioning.
Some of the benefits of crunches include:
- Less strain and pressure on your back
- Lower chance of injury
- Low-impact yet effective
- Easy and does not require equipment
The Cons of Crunches
However, while crunches are a simple and effective movement, there still requires a level of technique and form to avoid any injuries and downsides. Your spine and neck should align to ensure you do not cause any injury or strain on your neck.
Another downside to crunches is that it doesn’t work as many muscles as more advanced movements. Crunches predominately work the upper abdominals, so if you want to work more muscles during your workout, it would be a good idea to program in other movements that work other areas.
Ab Rollers Vs Crunches: Summary
Both ab roller exercises and crunches are very useful movements to program into your core workouts.
Crunches are ideal for beginners and experts alike, with the ability to scale the movement or make it more challenging. However, they only work a small selection of the muscles found in your midsection.
Ab rollers are a more advanced piece of kit that work the entire core, as well as other parts of the body for improved stability and overall strength. However, they are a much tougher movement, so may not be the best option for beginners.
We would recommend including both movements in your core routine, if possible. Though, prioritize the ab roller if your body can handle it!
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