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How to Develop a Wheelie Strong Anterior Core

I know, terrible pun, but forgive me…….

Core strength is important.

No news there eh?

For years now the emphasis has been on developing the posterior chain strength, which is basically your hips, hamstrings and back. This includes your core with a posterior emphasis.

The strength and fitness industry as a whole pretty much threw out all anterior core work outside of planks and turkish get ups.

But as good as these movements are, their still not enough. Our anterior core, aka “da six pack” deserves more.

This is where the Ab Wheel roll out comes in.

If you deadlift, squat, swing snatch, then this is the opposite action.

The reason I like so much is simple. It keeps the spine relatively neutral, which is good news for many people with a forward flexed posture, thunk of your fighting posture or even how you sit at your desk. It loads the abdominals in a lengthened position. What the hell does that mean?

It means that as the wheel rolls out, it is stretching out the abdominals and the lats, while at the same time loading them. This pretty close to the way in which the abdominals fire in real world movement, the muscles are usually stretch loaded prior to firing. Have a look at this thrower to see what I mean:


What do you think, has she stretched out the anterior chain, including the abdominals in order to generate more power for that throw? Now what if you were throwing a punch or a person?

There are a few important pointers that you must adhere to in order to both keep the spine safe and also get the most out of the exercise.

This video shows how it ought to be done:


Once the basic gets easy we have a few ways to progress the drill:

“Pennate Roll Outs”


Decline Roll Outs


Standing Roll Outs to a Ramp


Obviously the standing roll out is serious work, so be sure to have a solid base of kneeling work before even attempting it. On any variation, stay within your safe range of motion, if you lose control at any point, then simple drop to the floor, trying to save it can put tremendous strain into the lower back.

This cheap piece of kit is highly underrated but if used well can and will build some serious core strength and give balance to a body.


Dave Hedges

If you want to know more about strength training for BJJ,check out the Fighting Back eBook:

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