Standing Ab Wheel Rollout Progression

Ab wheel rollout progression

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen me performing standing rollouts with an ab wheel or similar device. I first performed rollouts over 25 years ago and the exercise remains my favorite core training movement. As I’ve demoed before, I can perform the exercise or similar variations almost anywhere. There are no fancy equipment requirements and the benefits are impossible to deny. The question that I often receive though is how does one progress from kneeling rollouts to the more difficult standing variation?

Ramp Rollouts

Although I’ve demoed several progressions before, there’s always new readers finding the site who aren’t familiar with my past material. With that in mind, I believe it’s useful to revisit the ramp rollouts that I first demonstrated way back in 2008 (see here).

A more recent demonstration can be seen below. In the first half, you’ll see how the ramp can be used as a progression. Towards the end, you’ll see how the ramp can also be used to increase the difficulty of the standing rollout.


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No Fancy Ramps Required

After sharing the video above, I received several questions about the specifics of the ramp. With that in mind, I’ll start by explaining how I built the ramp, but I’ll also remind you that almost anything can work. You do not need anything fancy. I’ve even seen people lift up one end of a treadmill to form a makeshift ramp.

As for my own, I built the ramp from 2×4 inch pieces of wood. There are six 2×4’s that form the top of the ramp. I also stapled carpet to the ramp so it can be used with the furniture sliders that I’ve demonstrated before (see here). The sliders do not work on a matted floor.

Higher Ramp = Less Difficult

If standing rollout progressions are new to you, it makes sense to start high and gradually work your way down. The exercise becomes more difficult as you lower the ramp. With that in mind, it can be useful to use a ramp that can be set higher than what’s possible in the video I posted above.

One such option can be seen below. What you’ll see is a picture of an old ramp that I demoed many years ago. It’s nothing but a 2×10 inch piece of wood that has a small 2×4 inch strip nailed to the back. The 2×4 inch strip keeps it in place when it’s hooked onto the safety bars of a power rack. This set-up allows me to adjust the ramp to any height. Simply raise or lower the bars on the power rack.

Ab wheel ramp

Sample Progression

When progressing to standing rollouts, it’s important to remember that less can be more. All that you need is a few sets of ramp rollouts, 2 or 3 days per week. Trying to rush the process will not bring about faster results. When working towards a difficult movement, patience is critical. There are no shortcuts.

As for workouts, here is a quick sample:

  • Kneeling rollouts (1 warm-up set)
  • Ramp rollouts (4 sets, 3 to 5 reps per set)
  • Optional – Finish with one set from the knees

With this sequence, you’ll begin with one set from the knees to warm-up. Rep range for the warm-up set will be based on ability, but shoot for 10 to 15 reps. Next, you’ll work with 4 sets from the ramp. Rep range will be low to medium, as the focus here is strength (not endurance). If/when possible, lower the ramp for the 3rd and 4th set to increase the challenge.

Lastly, you may wish to finish with one set from the knees.

Final Thoughts

Naturally, ramp rollouts are just one of the many progressions available to help one achieve full standing rollouts. With that said, I believe ramp rollouts are the most effective variation that I’ve demoed over the years, both through this blog as well as my core training DVD. If you are consistent with the movement, it’s only a matter of time before you progress.

And once you’ve achieved full standing rollouts, you will have mastered one of the most effective core training exercises of all. An added benefit is that you can perform the exercise almost anywhere. Speaking as a coach who is often traveling from one competition to the next, it’s nice to have a useful movement that’s always available. I don’t travel anywhere without my wheel. It’s been used in small hotel rooms all around the world.

I am thankful for it, and my core is as well.

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“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King


  1. Hey
    Good Article..
    One alternative for a progression from knees to standing over time is standing up, lean against the wall, take a couple of steps ( say 5 steps) turn around, then ab wheel to the wall. As one gets stronger, just slowly increase steps away from the wall and sooner or later one will be doing full standing rollouts. Main aspect is knowing how to keep how body tension throughout the movement. Knowing how to tense, squeeze the core, lats, grip, etc. :))

    1. Yes, partials can be useful. The ramp tends to be quicker though as it allows the athlete to achieve full extension on day 1. With the partial, there isn’t any time spent strengthening the end of the movement (the most difficult part). The ramp allows one to gradually work towards reversing the motion of going all the way out.

  2. Thanks Ross. I’ve not been able to do the kneeling version due to some long-standing issues with my knee and now I haven’t been able to do full extension with a standing rollout since a groin issue a while back. I never thought of progressing with a ramp like this on my squat rack – and I suspect now that your idea will be my ticket towards putting the ab wheel with full extensions back in my workout program. I appreciate you taking the time to share because it is an exercise that I’ve missed lately.

  3. Hey, you have been doing such a nice work in these years. I’m from italy and i have been following you in a while. For me training the core is essential if you want a get acceptable abs but i have never tried rollouts. Because of that i will put them in my schedule training. This is allo good to lose some weight more on the belly bottom

  4. Hey Ross, awesome article and this has recently been one of my current goals to achieve the standing rollout. I think the idea of a board with various inclines is super cool but the only problem is that I workout in the gym. Maybe I could bring in my own board haha. Anyways thanks for the awesome ideas and keep up the great content!

  5. I have been wondering about this for a while as there is a huge difference between the strength needed to perform a standing rollout compared to one performed from the knees. I will be implementing this in my training and that of some of my clients.

  6. A very well explained and useful article. I will work on mastering this and hopefully incorporate it into my clients programs.
    Thanks Ross

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