If you've got just a matter of weeks until you board a plane for a trip to the tropics, you might be panicking over whether you'll have enough time to get your abs into shape for the beach. It's easy to think that you should spend as many hours a day as possible doing ab exercises, such as the ab roller. But even with bikini season approaching, you need to give your abs time to heal between workouts.
Also called the ab wheel, the ab roller is an exercise accessory that you can use to help develop your abdominal muscles. Ab rollers typically have one or two wheels with handles on each side, which allow you to hold the device securely as you use it. Many gyms have ab rollers available to their members, and if you follow a home-based workout, these devices are easy to find at most exercise equipment stores.
One of the perks of using an ab roller in your workout is that despite the device's simplicity, you can use it in several ways. The most common ab roller workout involves kneeling on the floor and holding the ab wheel in front of you with your arms vertical. When ready, extend your arms and roll the device away from you, and then roll it back to your starting position. Variations include rolling to either side, elevating one leg during the exercise and even rolling from a standing position.
When it comes to resistance training, less can be more, advises the American Council on Exercise. The ACE reports that if you perform more than 25 reps of any type of exercise for your abs, your technique is likely incorrect. The ACE recommends one to three sets of between 10 and 25 reps of ab exercises and the final reps of each of your sets should be physically demanding.
The ACE advises against working out your abs every day, and suggests at least one day of rest between ab workouts. The website SixPackFactory.com suggests one to two days between ab workouts, which gives your abs enough time to heal. The post-workout recovery time is unique to each individual; if you find your arms are still extremely sore two days after using an ab roller, wait for an additional day before resuming your workout.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.