Home Blog Rollouts: Friend or Foe?

Rollouts: Friend or Foe?

Written on November 4, 2009 at 8:40 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: I recently purchased Show and Go and noticed that you include barbell rollouts in the weight training program.  I did this exercise at the end of an aerobics class and was told by the fitness instructor not to do it, as it was a dangerous exercise. Given it’s in your book, I gather you deem it a safe exercise. What is your opinion on this exercise? Do you know why some people say it’s a dangerous exercise?

A: As with just about everything, the devil is in the details.  For many individuals, this is a fantastic exercise.  For others, it may be too advanced.  And, for another group of folks, it just isn’t good because it gets absolutely butchered technique-wise.  Let’s attack this piece by piece with a rationale for its inclusion/exclusion, and then some training options and coaching cues:

(yes, I know I said “A” and then “2.”  Gotta love live TV!)

You can progress this exercise a bit more by either elevating the knees slightly or going to a band-resisted ab wheel rollout.  Just a heads-up: in this video, the athlete should have stopped a bit shorter in the top position to avoid the subtle lumbar rounding that took place; it’s a good demonstration of technique that’s good, but not quite perfect:

To learn more comparable exercises and see how they fit into a comprehensive weight training program, check out  Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.


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42 Responses to “Rollouts: Friend or Foe?”

  1. Jeanne Says:

    diggin’ the “live” newsletter.

  2. Patrick Gagnon Says:

    Great stuff Eric, love the new video format. Definitely something you should look into more often in the future. And as usual, great infos

  3. Niel Says:

    Great video.

    There are plenty of videos showing technique, but the verbal cues help a lot more.

    Can’t wait to see more.

  4. David Says:

    I like the vids as an occasional supplement to the written blogs. I know it helps me to see an exercise as opposed to reading about it or seeing a static picture or drawing. THANKS!

  5. tom Says:

    hope to see more live newsletters

  6. Domenic Says:

    Great stuff, very informative

  7. Drew Says:

    I agree with Jeanne…love the “live” newsletter!

    Next week when you discuss progressions, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the standing ab wheel rollout.

  8. Eric Talmant Says:

    Nice work! I like the videos.


  9. Al in Vancouver Says:

    Very helpful Eric.

  10. J Mando Says:

    Am I the only one who feels low back pain when doing rollouts? I’ve had low back issues in the past, but even now that my back is in much better shape, I still avoid these because of the discomfort.

  11. Kumar Says:

    Thanks. The cueing tip of hips first is very helpful.

  12. len waymeyer Says:

    Thanks for the great video, keep up the great work. I don’t miss a day. NorthPoint Personal Trainers

  13. Yael Grauer Says:

    Great video. Also, we now have video evidence that you actually use Swiss balls. 😉

  14. Brandon Says:

    I love doing ab wheel rollouts. When I first started they were very hard, so I limited the range of motion by doing them in front of a wall (instead of ball idea.)Then I would back further away from the wall to increase ROM. Once, I got to full range I worked up to about 20 reps. Now I’m starting to add the bands. They take it to a whole new level. Good tips as always, good video too!

  15. Travis Says:


    Thanks for the video – I’ll be sharing with my dad who does sit-ups for his ad work, and his posture definitely can/should be improved. I think I’ll recommend bridges and thoracic mobility work first though (then roll-outs once he gets those down) because bad posture may attenuate the effectiveness of roll-outs no?


  16. Karine Says:

    LOVE the live newsletter. Keep ’em coming.

  17. David Wood Says:

    Excellent, I have been doing these wrong for years! Thanks for putting me right.

  18. Eric Beard Says:

    Nice post EC!

    I love that you nailed the form. So many people can not demonstrate exercises that they teach. They expect a high level of execution from their clients/patients and athletes and can’t demonstrate what they expect to see.This really helps with the learning process.

    Eric Beard

  19. Eric Beard Says:

    Hey J.Mando,

    Provided you do not have any alignment issues with your pelvis, sacroiliac joint or lumbar spine, your deep intrinsic core stabilizers may not be strong enough and you may be feeling the psoas muscle grab onto your spine to try and make up for it. There are endless other exercises to do to work up to the version that Eric shared.

    Also, perhaps you need to incorporate more corrective work in a session before completing it.

    Eric Beard

  20. Lelli Says:

    great video Eric. thanks for clearing up some questions i had in my head.

    i actually did the “A” & “2” thing during a presentation once too..whoops!

  21. Rick Kaselj Says:


    Like the combo of both.

    Rick Kaselj

  22. Cousin Jen Says:

    Love these! I am a visual learner!

  23. Mary Says:

    The video definitely enhances delivery of info in the newsletter. Love it! Only wish you would mute the background music for the demos! 🙂

  24. John Thompson Says:

    I do standing rollouts with two homemade wheels. They’re the only ab exercise that I always do.

  25. Coach Magnus Says:

    Video is the way to go like many others in this field I am a visual/Audible learner and these types of newsletters would be apreciated.

  26. Ernie Says:

    Wow! This format of video blogs is great! Really cool! Definitely a great possibility to get that knowledge out to us.
    Really like listening to your stuff not just on a podcast, but also with video!

  27. Paul Southern Says:

    Lov’n the Evil-Wheel video. Any chance we can get a fitness model to demonstrate next time?

  28. Jacquie Says:

    Thank you so much for doing the video – and I would love to see more as like many athletes I am a visual learner.

    Appreciate your hard work!

  29. Barry Says:

    I take it we can do these with a barbell and a couple of 5 lb. weights on each end to act as ‘wheels’? My gym doesn’t have an ab wheel.

  30. Josh Kauten Says:

    Invest $10 bucks, it will be worth it.


    But I’ve used 10kg olympic bumper plates and they work great. If you have reduced friction barbells (ex. Texas Power Bars) they work better/smoother. Also, if your an absolute beast I’ve seen guys start standing and roll out into the prone position and then return to the standing position. I personally can’t but it’s pretty impressive to watch someone do it.

  31. Benjamin Kusin Says:

    Talky video is nice but not for deaf people.

    Impressive range on your ab wheel rollout!. I don’t go that far. I can’t get that range with good form and sometimes if I go too far I get some back pain due to compressive force on my damaged disc. I just keep the range on my rollouts appropriate and still get plenty sore.

  32. Jack Says:


    Where would very steep blast strap or TRX fallouts sit on the continuum of rollout-style progressions? It seems like the more upright the body, the closer this movement would be to an “entry level” movement. So would this fit in after working on planks and 1-leg planks and possibly in place of or just after the ball rollout?

  33. Rob Says:


    Do you see use of an X-vest (or other type of weight vest or even chains worn in an X-fashion for that matter) as a worthwhile progression with various types of rollouts?

  34. Ramon Says:

    I find what helps is squuezing the crap out of my glutes, no back pain when i DO THAT!

  35. Marcel Says:

    Hei Eric,

    I think you look a little more buffed than in the beginning of the year.
    Or is it just your Pullover? 😉

    Thanks for your great site, Im looking forward to do an internship at your place somewhere in the next 2 years. (I just have to get a spot 😉 )


  36. Rob Says:

    Excellent stuff! I’ve never heard anyone teach that you should innate the movement with the hips and forearms but it makes so much sense!

  37. Lisa Says:

    So often you see people begin with the advanced version of this exercise and they are not ready for it. Thanks for putting together a great video explaining the progressions.

  38. Jeff Says:

    Great advice, Eric. Coming from someone who had surgery on their back, I can say that the technique you described is perfect. I always wanted to do to ab wheel, but didn’t have all the details down. Great video(s)!! Thank you!!

  39. Jonathan Says:

    Great post. Love’n the video blog. Agree with Niel, the cues are magic. Unfortunately, it’s the thing that most articles/blogs don’t cover when explaining how to do an exercise.

    Keep up the great work,

  40. George Says:

    Great video and explanation. Its a pity you can’t force lecturers to watch and learn from these newsletters – maybe then the fitness industry wouldn’t be churning out ill informed instructor’s preaching 10-20 year old advice.
    Look forward to the progressions.

  41. Daniel Says:

    Great video. One of the best cues is to initiate the movement at the hips. That has greatly helped me to keep my spine neutral and reap the full benefits of this exercise.

  42. CarsonS Says:

    Hopefully I followed this form (I couldn’t see myself, so I’m not sure), because I just did them today before reading this!

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