While standard crunches work your abdominal muscles and flex your spine, the abdominal rollout—which requires an ab wheel—works the entire core region, including the rectus abdominus, the internal and external obliques as well as the transverse abdominus. These muscles help keep your body upright and stable when running.
“It’s a great exercise, and one of my favorites,” says Pascal Dobert, a three-time U.S. 3,000-meter steeplechase champion who is now a strength and conditioning coach for Nike. “It activates your core region in a way that is applicable to movement.”
How to do it:
Step 1: Get on your knees, preferably on a soft surface or mat.
Step 2: Grab the wheel with both hands and slowly roll out toward a fixed surface such as a wall or pillar. Keep the elbows straight and maintain a neutral spine. Then roll back to your starting position. The farther you reach out with the wheel, the more difficult the exercise becomes, Dobert warns. He suggests rolling out to a distance that’s comfortable and sustainable for 10–12 reps. Aim for two sets.