The Incredible Ab Rollout
Building functional strength and stability in the core requires an understanding of the role abdominal muscles play in human movement. Like all muscles core musculature is capable of three types of contractions: concentric (muscles shortening), isometric (muscle produce force without movement); and eccentric (muscles produce force while lengthening).
Each of these contraction types helps us perform a different function. Concentric contractions are used to project force externally from the body such as throwing, pushing, or pulling something external or pushing or pulling our body away or towards an object or the ground. This is what we see in movement and most exercises done in the gym are concentric dominant meaning that the emphasis is on this type of contraction.
Isometric contractions are used to prevent movement and stabilize. Examples include preventing movement of the core while the large lower body muscles are used to move the body through space during all forms of locomotion.
Eccentric contractions are used to absorb force, decelerate, and store energy in connective tissue which is then used during concentric contractions.
Almost all common abdominal exercise focuses on concentric or isometric muscle action. But what types of contraction are used most frequently in movement and sports? For the core area the answer is that these muscles are most frequently used to prevent or control movement meaning isometric and eccentric muscle action.
For the best carry over to movement and sport you should choose core exercises that focus on isometric and eccentric muscle contractions. For isometric action planks and side planks of all types are a fantastic choice and most people have realized they need to include them in their exercise routines. However, that leaves out the eccentric dominant exercises which is where Ab Rollouts of all types are great.
Ab rollouts can be performed using any of these inexpensive and easy to find tools:
Ab Roller Wheels (wheel with two handles with wheel in center)
Furniture Coasters on carpet
Platform with wheels on smooth, hard surface such as furniture dollies or dollies made specifically for abdominal exercise such the Ab Dolly (https://abdolly.com/ ) or Freeform Board (http://freeformboard.com/ )
Large, inflatable stability ball
Slideboard with booties or socks on hands or feet
Towel on smooth floor
Rollouts can be done with hands or hands and elbows on the device while on knees or feet as you move forward and extend all the muscles of the core under control then pause before returning to the starting position. For a great tutorial check out Mike Boyle here: http://www.stack.com/a/ab-rollout
To see what a reverse ab rollout looks like (feet moving instead of hands/arms) see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHASX4t0DhI
Small, subtle movements can make a HUGE difference in challenge level – here is an example of a variation called the Body Saw – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhOulCT3kCQ or this example using a towel on floor – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsjGpUH2hg0 or this variation using furniture sliders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C3XP4nAVyY