Power wheel exercises are not absolutely pure bodyweight exercises, in that they do use a piece of exercise equipment and not just the human body itself. However, most of the resistance is supplied by your weight, so these exercises are more bodyweight than anything else. They are also excellent for developing your body powerfully with little risk of injury, like other calisthenics and bodyweight workouts.
The abdominal muscles are brought to their peak of tone by carrying out power wheel rollouts, which are described in greater detail below. These are highly advanced bodyweight exercises, however. You should not even attempt them until intermediate exercises such as side plank stars and ring flies have lost their “oomph” and are beginning to seem weak and flabby.
A good set of abdominal muscles is needed as the foundation for this challenging phase of your ab development. The muscles produced by these techniques will give you the musculature necessary for immediate attempts on the human flag, advanced gymnastics, etc.
What a power wheel is
A power wheel is a small, sturdy exercise device which can be summed up as a small, solid wheel with a handle on either side. The handle is actually an axle which passes through a hole at the wheel’s center, allowing you to grip the power wheel with both hands, one on each side of the wheel. Making use of this device permits you to perform exercises and extensions which would otherwise be impossible, but which are extremely useful for developing your muscles.
Be sure to purchase a power wheel made out of high impact plastic and/or metal components. The device must be rugged to repeatedly sustain your nearly full body weight thousands of times per year. Fortunately, a number of models are now available, giving you a good choice between sizes and characteristics.
The power wheel rollout
For bodyweight exercise enthusiasts, the power wheel is the foundation of one of the most demanding exercises available to you – the power wheel rollout. This deceptively simple workout technique requires strong abdominal muscles, and builds these muscles even more – it is the ultimate source of muscular power for the abdomen and core.
To complete a power wheel rollout, follow these steps:
- Kneel on a mat, and lean forward so that you can grasp the handles of a power wheel placed on the floor in front of you.
- Keeping your thighs, hips, and back in a straight line, roll the power wheel straight forward.
- Continue to roll the power wheel forward, extending your arms, while lowering your body forward towards the floor.
- In the final position, your arms are stretched straight out over your head to their fullest possible extent, your body is around six inches above the floor, and your body is still as straight as possible.
- Slowly pull yourself back, retracting your arms and raising your body, to the starting position.
This is an extremely powerful workout and all movements should be carried out as slowly as possible for maximum effect. You will be supporting most of your weight – and pulling it back upright – using your abdominal muscles, which is why you need to develop these muscles before attempting the power wheel rollout. Failing to do so could risk a hernia due to the high stress that will be placed on your abdominal wall.
If you buy a power wheel with resistance settings, increasing the friction of the wheel will actually make the exercise easier, since the resistance of the wheel will provide a measure of mechanical support for your body weight. Thus, a power wheel with resistance is probably best for a beginner even if it is somewhat more expensive.
There are a number of other bodyweight burn exercises that make use of the power wheel, too. Although these are not quite as demanding, they still fall into the difficult, advanced end of the calisthenics spectrum, and are often used as preparation for rollouts.
The next article takes a closer look at some of these techniques in case you need to build up your gut muscles further before tackling the power wheel rollout – the undisputed monarch of abdominal bodyweight exercises.
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