Many of you might be familiar with the ab rollout. It is one challenging core exercise that you can do to strengthen your core. Ab rollouts are usually done with an ab roller or with a barbell. Since there are so many benefits of doing ab rollouts, not many people can do it.

I have seen many people either can’t do the rollouts or do it completely wrong. Many of them overach their lower back or use their back or shoulders too much instead of abs. So what’s the point in doing ab rollouts if you can’t feel your abs working?

It is an ab exercise so you must feel the tension in your abs rather than lower back. It is not safe for your lower back to be in an overarching position as it can lead to injury. So doing ab rollouts in the wrong way should always be avoided.

So what can you do instead of ab rollouts? What are some other exercises you can do that can progress you towards a rollout?

In this article, I have shared the best ab rollout alternatives that you can do to improve your core strength and endurance. You will find easier exercises at the beginning and then more challenging activities as you proceed with the article. But before looking at the alternatives, You should first know the muscles engaged during ab rollout.

Muscles Worked During Ab Rollout

There are so many muscles that are engaged during ab rollout. The primary muscles engaged are rectus admins (abs), serratus anterior, obliques, and erector spinae. Along with that, secondary muscles like the lats and shoulder are also engaged to assist during a movement.

You must ensure you are doing it right; otherwise, your lats and shoulders will become a prime mover instead of the secondary muscles.

Ab Rollout Alternatives

1. Floor Sit-ups

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Sit-up is a very popular exercise to target abs. Most people who go to the gym and work out will know about this exercise. You can do this easily on the floor at your home or anywhere you want. So if you can’t do an ab rollout, don’t worry! Do a regular sit-up instead.

How to do

1. Lie on your back with both feet on the floor. Keep your knees bent and heels on the floor. Keep your hands on the side thighs. This will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving your torso up and exhaling on the way up. Squeeze your abs hard as you move up. Bring your torso up until the abs are fully contracted.

3. Slowly return to the starting position while inhaling on the way down. Keep your neck neutral as you move.

Rest- 45 sec

Recommended reps – 15-20

You can use the help of your thighs to get up if it is difficult for you. Keep your neck neutral and make sure that you squeeze your abs and push your abs down to get the maximum contraction from the abs.

2. V-Ups

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V-ups are another great exercise to target the abs. This is another floor exercise where you need to move both limbs to make a V at the end. This exercise requires good abdominal strength and balance to perform efficiently. You don’t need an ab roller for this. You can do it easily on the floor.

How to do

1. Lie on the floor while keeping both legs close to each other. Now move your hands up and back towards the floor. Your knees should be extended. This will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving your legs and arms up together. As you move your arms, bring the torso just when you start raising your legs.

3. Bring your legs and hands close to each other and try to touch your legs with your hand. Make sure to exhale and squeeze your abs as you go up.

4. Then slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Rest- 45 sec

Recommended reps – 15-20

Always make sure that when you raise your legs, your lower back should not arch. Arching the lower back during a leg raise will engage your hip flexors more than the abs. So make sure to keep your lower back flat for better results.

Ab exercises are all about form and good contraction. So make sure that your abs are engaged more than any other muscles.

3. Plank

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Plank is one of the famous and foundational exercises to strengthen the core. This exercise is very effective, especially for beginners in building a solid foundation that will help you in other big lifts like deadlifts and squats.

So if you are struggling with ab rollout, you should probably do plank more often to improve your core strength. After some days, you can slowly progress towards the ab rollout.

How to do

1. Go down on your knees and place both arms on the floor with your elbows pointing out. Keep both feet together with your toes on the floor.

2. Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders and knees should be extended.

3. Bring your hips up to the point where your hips and back are in a straight line. Hold this position for the prescribed number of seconds.

Time – 1-2 minutes hold ( for beginners, even 30 seconds are enough)

Make sure that you don’t overach your lower back. Also, you should squeeze your hips while holding the plank position.

4. Cross Knee Plank

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Cross knee plank is an advanced version of the plank. Here you will touch your knee with one hand while being in a plank position. This will be a great alternative to a side bend because it will engage your obliques and many other small muscles present near the waist and love handles.

This exercise will prepare you to perform better in ab rollouts.

Targeted muscles – Obliques, abs, and transverse abdominis

How to do

1. Get down on the floor and place your arm on the floor such that your elbow is under the shoulder. Keep your toes on the floor with your back flat and glutes tight.

2. Start the exercise by lifting one arm and the opposite leg from the floor. Bend your knees and bring your knee towards the torso.

3. Touch your knee with your hand while maintaining proper form and then place your arm and foot back on the floor.

4. Repeat the same procedure for the other side.

Rest- 45 sec

Recommended reps – 15-20

Make sure that your hips, waist, and back are in a straight line. Don’t bring your hips or torso down. Hold a plank position as you perform the movement.

This exercise is also good for those who want to challenge their core by making plank difficult. If you can do plank easily for 1-2 minutes, then you should make plank difficult by adding these movements.

5. Plank On Exercise Ball

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Plank on an exercise ball is a progression of the regular planks. If you can comfortably do planks for a minute or two, you should try it on an exercise ball. This exercise will be more challenging and will require you to maintain balance. The ball will make the surface less stable and will be more difficult. So make sure that you have enough strength before performing this exercise.

How to do

1. Get on your knees and place both arms on the exercise ball. By balancing the ball, lift and extend your knees and bring your feet together.

2. Hold your body in a plank position by keeping your hips and back at the same level. Make sure to maintain the form.

3. Hold this position for about a minute or 2. You can start with 30 seconds of 3 sets initially and then gradually increase from there.

Make sure that you don’t drop your hips or move your torso backward. You can injure yourself if you move back as the ball will roll forward as you move backward.

This is an advanced exercise so make sure that you master the basic plank before trying this exercise.

6. Swiss Ball Rollout

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Now, this is another progression of the plank we have discussed above. Swiss ball rollout is another excellent alternative to ab rollout. Here, instead of rolling the bar, you will move the ball. Again, This exercise is not meant for beginners, so make sure you can do planks easily before trying this exercise.

Targeted muscles – rectus abdominis (abs), obliques, serratus anterior and transverse abdominis

How to do

1. Get onto your knees and keep a swiss ball in front of you. You should be on the mat to avoid knee injury.

2. Now, place both arms on the ball. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Start rolling the ball with your arms and move your torso forward.

3. Continue moving the ball forward and stop when your core almost wants to give up. From there, squeeze your abs and hips and roll the ball back to the starting point.

Make sure that you use your abs and hips to roll the ball towards you rather than your lower back and shoulder. You can make this exercise challenging by starting in a more bent position.

7. Plank With Hip Twist

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This is another best alternative to side bends. If you can do planks easily, then this exercise will be a significant variation you can add to challenge your core.

Targeted muscles – rectus abdominis (abs), obliques, and transverse abdominis

How to do

1. Go down on a plank position by placing both hands on the floor with both feet close to each other.

2. Keep your elbows under your shoulder. Your hips and back should be in a straight line. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your left hip toward the floor. Keep your hips up as you move.

4. Almost touch the floor and then use your core muscles to bring your hips up towards the starting position. Repeat the same procedure from the other side.

Rest- 45 sec

Recommended reps- 15 on each side

Along with your abs, you will also engage your obliques and transverse abdominis. These exercises will also help you improve your squats and other big lifts because your core is engaged in a lot of compound movements like deadlifts and lunges. So do these exercises to improve your overall strength and performance.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to ab rollout. So if you can’t do ab rollouts and want to progress towards improving your strength, to do it one day, then these are the exercises you should try. All these exercises should be done with proper form and technique, or you won’t get better results.

All ab exercises should be done in a controlled and proper form so that you know that you avoid using other muscles in the movement. You should not just swing or move your torso up and down. Here, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of each rep that matters. If you do 1000 crunches and your hip flexors or neck is tired, and there is not much burning in your abs, then there is no point in doing 1000 crunches. So focus on the muscles you want to target and do each rep as the last one.

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