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Published Jun 7, 2022 9:34 AM

Ab rollers are a killer way to spice up your workout and sculpt that dream core. Ab rollers are simple, relatively inexpensive, and easy on the spinal discs versus those archaic sit-ups that I’m sure we all hate. Who knew something so basic in its design can help you feel such a good burn? Given its simplicity, there are quite a lot to choose from, however, and it can be a bit of a headache to sift through all the options. Let Task & Purpose lend a hand. 

Breaking a sweat should be for your workout, not your shopping, so let us guide you through the best ab rollers on the market today. Enter our guide which we’ve carefully curated using our blend of personal knowledge and consumer feedback to help you decide on the right product for your specific application.

Methodology 

As journalists and service members who’ve made fitness part of our lifestyles, we at Task & Purpose must deliver the most informative yet honest reviews possible. From all sorts of cardio machines to trick bits of gear for getting your bulk on, we know our way around quality fitness equipment. I enjoy a good ab roller — even though they absolutely annihilate my scrawny self — and have used quite a few of various grades, and it was a pleasure to dive deep into these neat and peculiar models for you.

Sourcing a dozen ab rollers would’ve been a timely and costly affair for a single writer, so this guide was curated primarily research-driven and aided by previous experiences with ab rollers at gyms and at home. Most ab rollers were easily found on a central hub like Amazon, but deviating into the Google Sea highlighted unique standouts equally worth your attention. That said, Rogue Fitness and Core Masters were additional sources of consumer feedback and product insight. 

The best ab rollers were capable of delivering diverse workouts with robust quality to survive harsh lives under the most dedicated fitness gurus. Rollers with little-to-no consumer feedback were ignored as we typically lean towards items with trusted, real-world backing. As always, readers are always encouraged to come and learn more about how Task & Purpose generally curates its buyer’s guides.

The Core Masters CoreFlex4D definitely flexes on its peers in both design and quality. This product elevates the capabilities of a basic ab roller with a grip and wheel design that promotes a full core workout. A wide wheel ensures stability throughout the basic motions while being easy to manipulate for leans and twists. The outward-mounted handle and elbow pads place you in a supported plank position to go through the motions with significantly less strain on your wrists, thus allowing you to keep focusing on your core for longer. Build quality is reportedly quite stout, with frequent consumer praise and a reassuring 300-pound weight capacity.

The primary complaint to be had is the headache price at nearly $165. At the time of writing, a sale had knocked an appreciable $50 off, which still placed it as one of the most expensive products available. But surely, the most dedicated athletes will take the potential of this ab roller and run away with it.

Product Specs
  • Materials: foam, plastic, metal
  • Weight capacity: 330 pounds
  • Wheel width x diameter: 4 x 7 inches
PROS

Capable of working entire core

Comfortable and ergonomic

Bank vault build quality

CONS

Pricing as painful as the workout

If the CoreFlex4D strikes fear in the hearts of the budget-minded, this Sprwhale Fitness Ab Roller will rejuvenate the soul with its unbelievably-friendly $20 sticker. Seriously, click the link! Twenty dollars! Two, zero! One would think the resulting product would be a plastic-ridden wheel-on-a-stick that would break in less than a week, but fortunately, that hasn’t been the case for users. The handles are textured with foam and rubber inserts for a ceaseless grip on the roller. The main tube is stainless steel and helps this product achieve an astronomical 485-pound capacity. And to sweeten the deal, a nifty jump rope is included. How thoughtful.

I came into this product skeptical and uneasy, but there was a surprisingly low volume of customer complaints to be found. Most reviews praised the shocking degree of quality and sturdiness of such an affordable product. One reported issue was that the wheel might tend to slip on hard flooring despite the soft material and tread. If you have plenty of carpet and no need for added gimmicks, this product may very well be the perfect deal.

Product Specs
  • Materials: foam, rubber, metal
  • Weight capacity: 485 pounds
  • Wheel width x diameter: 2 x 7 inches
PROS

One of the most affordable products online

Large, treaded wheel for enhanced stability

Textured grips

Additional equipment bundled in

CONS

Not grippiest wheel for hard floors

Honorable Mention

Marketed as a “next step up” for experienced users, the Rogue Fitness Ab Wheel is a simple yet ultra-robust roller that can really take a beating. The slightly-rounded tire encourages turning and twisting to flex those obliques, and its soft outer material ensures minimal slip and maximum stability. Consumers moving on from cheaper options were taken back by the perceived sense of durability with the Ab Wheel that was nonexistent in other wheels, which reportedly felt flimsy and wobbly by comparison. The actual movement of the wheel itself is silky smooth with no perceived drag, kudos to its sealed bearings.

The main caveat is the $75 price which, while not as stratospheric as a premium full-body or full-core roller, is still a big chunk. Users have argued that you’d be saving money by not hopping from cheap roller to cheap roller and that it’s a product to last a lifetime, but you can’t help but raise an eyebrow at such a lofty price for a basic, simplistic ab roller design.

Product Specs
  • Materials: rubber, metal
  • Weight capacity: N/A
  • Wheel width x diameter: 3 x 8 inches
PROS

Simplistic design (for those who appreciate simplicity)

Build quality to last a lifetime

Slightly-rounded wheel adds an extra challenge for experienced users

CONS

Far from the most expensive but still quite pricey

No frills or gimmicks for the high price

The Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro is an ingenious take on ab rollers. I didn’t even know this roller style existed until I found it during my research. The gist is that it uses a steel coil spring inside the girthy wheel — wide for stability yet also rounded to allow leaning — to create resistance as you go through the motions. The spring will, in turn, make your workouts more challenging, a welcome addition to a hardcore athlete’s home gym and one that reportedly works quite well. As an added plus, the handles are quite compact and are even removable for easy storage, a generous commodity to offset the bulk of the spring-loaded wheel.

However, it’s not the end-all of ab rollers, as adding an extra moving part to the equation does raise concerns about compromised reliability. The spring that users have found to be admirably helpful has the potential of wearing and losing its strength as the product ages. A few users have reported their spring jamming, which thankfully has a simple fix, and one user even reported that their spring had snapped entirely. Effective? Yes, but caution, caution, caution.

Product Specs
  • Materials: plastic, metal
  • Weight capacity: N/A
  • Wheel width x diameter: 7.88 x 9 inches
PROS

Compact, removable handles for easier storage

Wide wheels for stability

Slightly-rounded wheels for challenging new workouts

CONS

Concerns of gradually wearing spring

Reports of springs jamming

Best Portable

If the Ab Carver Pro was an innovative oddity, the RBX Ab Roller Wheels are just downright weird. Advertised as portable rollers for bringing on vacations or to workspaces, these options rewrite what an ab roller can be by taking the form of dumbbells on roller skates. Their marketing needs no proof. Just look at how small they are! Dorm dwellers may especially love the compactness for stowing in drawers and would be a delight for, oh say, airmen at tech school. They’re sold as a pair, meaning you get one roller per hand, thus allowing for a greatly diversified workout that can also challenge your upper body. Consumers laud the silky operation of the minuscule wheels, which roll so smoothly, that they can be utilized on both hard flooring and light carpeting.

Surprisingly, this was one of the most universally loved items on this list with little to complain about. Any issues were mere nitpicks. One could argue that the tiny wheels could be hampered by thick carpeting, but others may see that as added resistance to a great workout. The overall quality and long-term longevity are unknown, and a maximum weight capacity is not listed.

Product Specs
  • Materials: plastic
  • Weight capacity: N/A
  • Wheel width x diameter: N/A
PROS

Two separate rollers greatly diversify your workout

Incredibly compact

Silky-smooth wheels

CONS

Unknown longevity

Tiny wheels may be hampered by thicker carpets and rugs

The EnterSports 6-In-1 Ab Wheel Roller Kit is a superb, multi-piece care package for athletes looking to fill their home gym in one fell click. If “kits” weren’t already a stand-alone category, this would’ve swept Best Value in a heartbeat. For roughly $30, the kit includes EnterSport’s ab roller, a pair of resistance bands, knee pads, and push-up bars. Yes, that’s not six, and it really means some items are just included in pairs, but it’s certainly more content than some premium, stand-alone ab rollers. The welcome additions will help diversify your routine and add a dash of resistance to your standard bodyweight workouts.

That said, there’s been a bit of Genie-In-A-Bottle syndrome with how not all is perfect with this item. While all the equipment is effective and functions as advertised, consumers have raised mild concerns over build quality with how much plastic is involved in the construction, especially the push-up bars. And the knee pads were shockingly small and sure to deter larger individuals; described as, “fit only for teenagers.” Towering Marines, beware.

Product Specs
  • Materials: metal, PVC, TPR
  • Weight capacity: 600 pounds
  • Wheel width x diameter: 3.2 x 8 inches
PROS

Incredibly friendly price tag

Immense strength and durability

It’s a goodie box for athletes!

CONS

Miniscule knee pads

Mild build quality concerns from consumers

6-In-1 really mean the same items are just paired

Our verdict on ab rollers

The unique CoreFlex4D ab roller takes the cake for its robust construction and comfortable ergonomics to please newcomers and experts alike. The Sprwhale Fitness product earns Best Value for delivering a durable, honest ab roller at an undeniable bargain. And Rogue Fitness deserves your attention for those seeking a top-tier, resilient ab roller to last into their retirement home years.

What to consider when buying an ab roller

Most ab rollers fall under one giant umbrella as they aim to accomplish the same task in the same manner. It can be hard to make distinctions between the different types unless you squint and take note of the tidbits that make each type special. Do you want a do-it-all doohickey with foot straps and outward handles, or do you want pure, distilled simplicity? Here are the key paths through which an ab roller can distinguish itself. 

Types of ab rollers

Basic

For lack of a better term, these are your most common, most affordable types of ab rollers. They may implement metal into their design but are generally plastic with straight-out horizontal grips. Their wheels are often thin with squared-off contact patches that evoke memories of Radio Flyer wagons, but some may sport unique, conical designs for added versatility. 

Nearly all the items you’ll find at gyms and stores will be this style of ab roller, meaning that if this is your jam, all you have left to do is pick a quality model and check out. However, the rudimentary design doesn’t always mean they’re cheap, and some premium models built to withstand a lifetime of hardcore exercises may command premium price tags.

Full-body/full-core exercise

These are the unique oddities with peculiar add-ons created to enhance the range of workouts they can perform significantly; the CoreFlex4D ab roller is a good example. Such products may utilize pads for resting arms or more outward-mounted grips for different positioning during various exercise routines. They can also sport a more rounded-off wheel that encourages twisting and leaning during some exercises. A few examples have even been noted to have straps near the handles for placing your feet to work your lower body.

These will often be built to handle the demands of the added exercises that they’ll help perform. As such, expect higher maximum weight capacities and perhaps even higher price tags. The simpler the design, such as those with just footrests, the less painful the price.

Portable

Portable ab rollers are the neat trinkets marketed as being capable of being brought to workplaces or vacation spots. Who decides to get a good core pump going at the office is anyone’s guess, but these will help you do it through some pretty clever methods. Many designs are your basic ab rollers but enhanced with detachable handles or more compact wheels for easy transporting. A more ingenious design such as RBX ab rollers takes things to a new level with two minuscule rollers for each hand.

As for purchasing, they’re priced similarly to their fixed, slightly-bulkier counterparts and are reasonably easy to find on the online marketplace, albeit less common. While I couldn’t quite dig up concrete evidence, the small sizes and easily-detachable components raise concerns over longevity.

Key features of ab rollers

Handles

As simple as it sounds, these are what you grip onto as you go through the motions of activating your core. There’s not much to making a handle good or bad. Instead, it’s a matter of personal preference. Basic handles will be straight, no-frills plastic bars. Others may have dimples punched in them or some form of texturing for improved grip. A few may have foam inserts for resisting slippage when your knees are weak and palms are sweaty (from the workout, not Mom’s spaghetti).

Premium full-body ab rollers often have curved, outward-positioned handles with elbow pads where standard handles would go. This places the body in a more stable plank position for an even more effective workout. Some full-body rollers also sport foot straps or pedals for utilizing your lower body.

Wheels 

This is the literal and metaphorical core that makes an ab roller an ab roller. How these are designed will have slight but noticeable effects on the product’s overall feel. While most ab rollers appear the same, some wheels may be installed with a much tighter fit, whereas lower-end products can wobble and rattle. Some may be cheap plastic with a prominent tread design that vibrates over hard floors. Others, such as Rogue Fitness rollers, may use a soft rubber or foam wheel that glides over most surfaces. 

Some ab rollers may use wider wheels or even two wheels for better weight distribution and enhanced capacity, and unique products such as the Perfect Fitness ab roller feature built-in springs to create tension. This adds resistance for a more effective workout, although these types of wheels are far rarer.

Equipment bundles

Not unlike a previous guide on medicine balls, it must be noted that equipment bundles are hot ticket items on the online marketplace, and ab roller bundles are no exception. It doesn’t even have to be an Amazon-specific bundle, as some companies sell entire workout kits complete with resistance bands, push-up bars, and more.

These kits will mainly include knee pads and resistance bands at the very least, but some go so far as to include jump ropes and hand grippers. If medicine ball kits are geared towards strength training and bodybuilding, ab roller kits will be decked out for high-intensity aerobic and anaerobic routines.

Pricing of an ab roller

Most ab rollers are relatively inexpensive items, save for a few top-tier gym nut specials. Expect most ab rollers on the online marketplace to ring in between $30 and $40. Full-body and full-core models such as the CoreFlex4D quickly blitz past the $100 mark with higher-quality rollers, with more traditional designs such as the Rogue Fitness Ab Wheel slot right beneath at $75. Our Best Value Sprwhale Fitness product rings in at an easygoing $20. 

Tips and tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and ab rollers. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • To any service members bracing for a PT test, ab rollers will help but not fully substitute the muscle-memory advantage of practicing sit-ups. Use them as a supplement to your routine but not a replacement. 
  • For those who aren’t concerned with PT tests, inch towards ab rollers and other ab workouts that don’t strain your spine so much. Sit-ups put you at risk of a herniated spinal disc.
  • Seek full-body or full-core ab rollers with the elbow pads if you’d like more comfort. They brace you in a plank position and take some strain off your wrists.
  • Dorm dwellers or those in smaller houses and apartments will enjoy any portable ab roller or ab rollers with collapsible/removable handles due to their easy storage.
  • It is acceptable to tuck your abs into a very slight, cat-like hunch as you roll in, as this will allow you to maintain a tightness in your core without over flexing your spine.

FAQs about ab rollers

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Are ab rollers effective?

A: Absolutely. As you go through the movements, you’re holding your position to work your core isometrically, almost akin to a plank. This method activates more muscle fibers as you’re utilizing most of, if not your entire core, to stabilize yourself. 

Q: Is an ab roller bad for the back?

A: They’re quite the opposite. As you’re striving to maintain your flat or mostly-flat position throughout your movements, you’re not compressing your spinal discs and avoid risking a herniated disc. When done right, even a slight tuck as you roll in won’t be enough to over flex your spine.

Q: Can an ab roller get me a six-pack?

A: The best answer is maybe. Of course, like any solid routine, you can shave fat and build a brick wall of a gut, but that’s also heavily influenced by intensity, frequency, and diet. Don’t think of ab rollers as your endgame weapon but as an extra nifty tool at your disposal.

Q: Are ab rollers better than sit-ups?

A: Ab rollers deliver an effective workout as you’re utilizing your core to maintain position throughout the movements without stressing your lower spine. A study has shown that, while you’re merely stabilizing yourself, ab rollers activate more muscle fibers than basic sit-ups, as well.

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