Ab Roller vs. Planks: Which One Gets You a Six-pack Faster?

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Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


When it comes to getting a six-pack, there are many different exercises that you can do. Some people prefer ab wheel rollouts, while others prefer planks.

Ab roller vs planks: which is better?

There is no clear winner when it comes to ab roller vs. planks for getting a six-pack faster. They are both effective exercises that target the abdominal muscles. The main difference is that planks are a static exercise, meaning that you hold your body in one position for an extended period of time. On the other hand, ab rollers are a dynamic exercise, meaning that you move your body through a range of motion.

Below we’ll cover what each training offers, how they’re different, and how to create the optimum combination of both exercises.

Are Ab Wheel Better Than Planks?

Your ab roller delivers faster development of your abs but is considerably more complicated to execute correctly than planks.

Even trainers who have performed hundreds of repetitions still find it difficult to maintain excellent ab roller technique for more than a few repetitions.

Besides getting your abs engaged, the right ab rollout also drives your shoulders and back muscles. So, they work your entire upper more intensively than other ab exercises.

However, form and technique are crucial in making the ab wheel an effective abdominal exercise. And this takes both experience and practice to get right.

So, beginners may get a better core workout from planking before investing in an ab wheel.

For more advanced trainers, performing ab wheel rollouts with proper form will be a good step up from simply planking.

But if you’re only starting to build your core strength, planking is quite enough initially.

Is An Ab Wheel Effective?

Yes. The ab wheel is incredibly effective in building your core muscles, specifically your ab muscles and overall upper body. In addition to your abdominal muscles, it can target other muscles, including your lats and delts.

The ab roller is like a dynamic plank position that keeps moving your core muscles and engaging a lot of your upper body muscle mass.

So, it’s a great alternative whether you’re looking to get a dedicated ab workout or simply want some bodyweight exercises that get your primary muscles worked, especially in the upper body.

Can You Get Abs from Just Planks?

Although planks are an important part of any ab workout regimen, they may not get you abs by themselves.

Planking does help your entire upper body, but it’s not a dedicated exercise meant to build muscle in the abdominal area visibly.

So, focused workouts like crunches, sit-ups, and ab wheel rollouts are examples of exercises that specifically target the rectus abdominis.

Planking, on the other hand, works wonders for your erector spinae, shoulder blades, arms, and your entire core muscles.

However, variations of the plank position should certainly be part of your workouts. These are the perfect abdominal exercises.

How Often Should You Do Them?

Beginners should avoid using the ab wheel too frequently. You need to practice the rollout before you are able to use the ab wheel properly.

So, start with a couple of reps with the correct form and motion. Once you’ve mastered the ab wheel rollout, you can perform it in reps of 7 to 12 spread across multiple sets (more on this later).

Planking can also be tough on the core muscles for first-time users. However, planks are less rigorous and more forgiving on your abdominal muscles.

So, you can do it more frequently as long as you don’t overwork your abs and thighs.

With planking, you can practice short durations from 15 – 30 seconds to over a minute.

Which is Better: Ab Wheels or Planks?

Benefits: Ab Wheels vs. Planks

When comparing the ab roller vs planks benefits, both exercises have value for strengthening the core. Here is an overview of the unique advantages of each:

Ab Wheel Benefits

  • Ab wheel rollouts keep your core tight, especially working on your internal and external obliques, sustaining strong core muscles, and developing washboard abs. 
  • Sit-ups and crunches target the same muscles as ab rollouts, but the ab wheel delivers more effect over a shorter period of time.
  • The right ab rollout routine can work more than a dozen different muscles. This includes everything from targeting your rectus abdominis to strengthening your arms. 
  • A full ab wheel rollout emphasizes movement from your entire body while keeping your heart rate up. This means your ab wheel exercises do count as cardio too. 
  • When you roll the wheel on the ab roller, you’ll have to keep your core strong and summon every group of stabilizer muscles to perform the rollout correctly. This helps strengthen your joint stability and resilience. 
  • Its minimal design makes it easy to transport the ab wheel from home to the gym. This portability and convenience earn it extra points. 
  • Ab rollout exercises also improve blood circulation and increase oxygen to the brain. This works towards better mental health and a more focused state of mind. 
  • This exercise also improves your body’s ability to hold an upright pose and posture. It’s especially helpful for users who struggle with their physical stance and bearing owing to neck pain, shoulder injuries, etc. 
  • No amount of upper body exercises will improve your abs’ visibility if it stays hidden inside your belly fat. Ab wheel rollouts can help burn excess fat, and that dreaded love handles around the abdomen. 

Ab Wheel Benefits

  • Planking is perhaps the easiest workout and also an intense core exercise. It can build both your rectus and transverse abdominis to create the aura of strong, hard abs. 
  • It also develops your hip flexors, much like hanging leg raises but is easier to perform.
  • Planks will enhance your gluteal muscles, giving you a much stronger back and buttocks. 
  • Planking can be considered the best core exercise if you prefer exercises that don’t require equipment, are easy to perform, and don’t require much training or expertise. 
  • Using planking positions can also help your body’s alignment and improve your posture and overall body balance. 
  • Given its simplicity and easy execution, planking also poses less risk for unexpected injuries and is less stressful on the spine. 
  • Furthermore, planking serves as a calming experience due to the concentration required to focus on the task at hand. 
  • Besides the upper half of your body, planking also develops strength and performance capacity in your thighs and legs. 

Drawbacks: Ab Wheel vs. Planks

Ab Wheel

When it comes to ab wheel workouts, the biggest catch is that they require a lot of time, practice, and focus to perform well. Naturally, it’s not the best option for beginners and inexperienced users.

The ab rollout exercises are also harder to perform, even if you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast.

Working on your core while being supported by the same core isn’t easy by any standards. It’s similar to traditional pull-ups or push-ups, but with the added weight of your body creating friction with the floor.

Also, ab wheel exercises aren’t the best for the lower body, whereas planking does. Given its difficulty and intensity, ab wheel rollouts also carry higher risks of injury and strained muscles.

Even a small mistake in form and delivery can create immediate problems for your spine and back.


As far as the best core exercise is concerned, planking simply doesn’t have enough dynamism and effectiveness to serve as a dedicated ab exercise.

Contrary to the specialized ab wheel, planking is a milder and easier alternative. It’s a static form of traditional exercises like a push-up or pull-up.

Planking is also a monotonous exercise that can be tedious. It doesn’t offer the intensity or resilience of a bench press or the fat-burning benefits of jogging/running.

Another disadvantage with planking is that the gains may decrease as your body manages to do better. If planking is not mixed with intensive exercises, it becomes more of a pastime than a workout.

Which is More Beginner Friendly?

Planking is easily the better ab workout for people with no experience. Thanks to its simple execution and zero equipment needs, anyone can plank at any time.

Also, planking remains the better choice if you’re a newbie in the gym looking for comprehensive upper and lower body exercises instead of a dedicated ab workout.

Which Will Build Six Pack Abs Quickly?

The energy and vigor it demands allow ab wheel workouts to build abdominal muscles faster and more efficiently.

That’s because ab wheel rollouts can concentrate more pressure on your core muscles, while planking spreads the intensity across more muscle groups.

Which One Allows For More Workout Variation?

While both ab rolls and planks accommodate various variations, the incredibly nuanced and different versions of planking give it more variation and range.

Which Muscle Groups Do They Target?

When comparing the ab roller vs planks muscles worked, there are some key differences.

The ab roller will primarily target the abdominal muscle groups and improve your shoulders, lats, and shoulders. This exercise is great for strengthening the core.

On the other hand, planking will target all of these areas, as well as your biceps, triceps, pectorals, thighs, and glutes. The plank is a more full-body exercise that engages multiple muscle groups at once.

So, while the ab roller hones in on the abs and back, the plank takes more of a total body approach.

Ab Wheel vs Plank Exercises: How to Use?

Ab Wheel

To use the ab wheel correctly, your starting position should be kneeling, with arms in a straight line down to the wheel’s handles. You can place a yoga mat under your knees to get some grip and padding from the mat’s soft surface.

Then, clench your stomach to focus the pressure on your abdomen. This core strength pressure is crucial to master for an effective ab roller workout. If you put the pressure back on your lower body or thighs, your hip flexors get the workout instead of your abs.

Next, slowly roll the wheel forward as you continue focusing the pressure on your core. Allow your body to experience the extension as the wheel rolls forward, keeping your arms straight.

Now, pull up the wheel along the ground and assume the kneeling position again. Remember that your core workout will happen if you only focus the tension on your abdomen.

Beginners often rely excessively on the strength of their arms to roll the wheel back. But this will shift the pressure to your arms, making them handle all the pressure, similar to a push-up or military press.

For more advanced users, you can begin with your legs in a standing position and your body bent at the waist to reach the wheel’s handles.

  • Knee rollout
  • Wide-stance/Narrow-stance front rollout
  • V rollouts
  • Tucks (Oblique, Knee)
  • Single-arm rollout
  • One-leg rollout


To perform a standard high plank, lie prone on the floor and place your hands (palms down) below your shoulders.

Next, position your toes against the floor and prop yourself up to a push-up position with your arms extended. Shift the pressure across your abdomen and keep your thighs and glutes tense.

Beginners can remain in this position for 15 seconds or more. Experienced gym users can begin pushing their limits beyond minutes.

To try a variation, maintain the same position but support your weight on your elbows and outer wrists (instead of your hands). Pressure will be added to your arms and even build shoulder muscles similar to performing pull-ups.

  • Forearm plank
  • Side plank
  • Reach plank
  • Plank wiper
  • Plank jacks
  • Sliding plank crunch
  • Plank push-ups
  • Plank piston

Workout Routine

To create the optimum combination of your ab rollouts and planks, begin with a regimen similar to the one given below (Choose reps/duration based on your level).

  • 5 – 12 reps on the ab wheel
  • Plank for 15-30 seconds
  • 5 – 12 reps on the ab wheel
  • Plank for 30-45 seconds
  • 5 – 12 reps on the ab wheel
  • Plank for 45 – 1 minute or more

You have the liberty to intensify or bring down the difficulty of reps depending on how trained and experienced you are with these exercises.

Which is Safer?

For the beginner, the ab wheel poses more threat of injury if the form and stance are not mastered. Begin cautiously and follow clear instructions to avoid injuries or unnecessary back strains.

However, this high-risk aspect of the ab wheel also creates a high-reward scenario because the gains and the outcome are obvious.

Wrapping Up

There is no clear winner regarding the ab roller vs. planks debate. Both exercises have their benefits and drawbacks, depending on your goals and what you’re looking for in a workout.

The ab roller is a great choice if you want something that will challenge your core and give you a better workout.

However, if you’re looking for an exercise that’s going to be easier on your body and won’t put as much strain on your back, then planks are the way to go.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which exercise is right for you.


How much plank should I do a day to get abs?

For most people, planking of 10-60 seconds across a few reps is enough intensity for a day’s workout.

How many planks would it take to get abs?

That depends on your current fitness levels, but a reasonable amount of planks should be plenty if you have other exercises.

How long should the average person be able to hold a plank?

The average person should be able to hold a plank for anything below 3 – 60 seconds.

Can you get a six-pack from planks?

Yes, if you pair it up with other workouts that specifically target the abs.

Will planking for one minute a day give me abs?

With this practice, you’ll eventually develop impressive abs, but combining it with a few ab wheel exercises will be faster.

Are planks better than ab workouts?

Planks are good for overall balance and fitness, but dedicated exercises will make a bigger difference for ab workouts.

Will an ab roller flatten my stomach?

Not necessarily. You’ll first have to lose any existing belly fat before your hard abs are visible.

How often should I use ab roller to see results?

Use the ab roller for 3-4 sets of 5-10 reps each daily. Then, scale up your intensity as you get more comfortable with the pressure.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

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