To build a rock-hard six-pack you need to push your abs muscles to the limit to force them to grow, and there are few exercises that test your core as hard as the barbell roll-out. It’s a tough move, but as with all exercises – and especially the advanced ones – the more effort you put in, the quicker and more impressive the results.
The big advantage of the barbell roll-out over other abs-specific moves, such as crunches or bicycles, is that your entire abdominal region is engaged for the entire rep. The muscle fibres have to fire together to stabilise your torso as your lower and raise your chest. Plus, the closer you can get your chest to the floor – providing you keep your abs tensed – the harder your abs will have to work.
How To Do The Barbell Roll-Out
Kneel in front of a barbell on the floor. Lean forward so the barbell is directly underneath your shoulders and grip the bar with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Roll the bar as far out as you can until you feel you might break form, then return. Use your abdominals to control the movement, making it slow and deliberate, and keep your back straight throughout the move.
Barbell Roll-Out Variations
Once you’ve mastered the move with your knees resting on the ground, make it a lot harder by only resting your feet on the floor. This increases the amount of your bodyweight your abs have to control during each rep, recruiting more muscle fibres to keep your upper body stable.
Gym Ball Roll-Out
This variation places less strain on your lower back but makes your core work hard to stabilise the wobble.
Kneel in front of a gym ball and rest your forearms on the side of the ball closest to you. Extend your arms to roll the ball forward and use your abs to control the wobble and keep your body steady.