If you're like me, you've taken one look at the ab wheel at the gym and gone running back to your mat. For such a small piece of equipment, the ab wheel is intimidating, and with good reason. Eric and Ryan Johnson, the NSCA-certified trainers behind Homage Fitness, told POPSUGAR that although the ab wheel first rose to fame through cheesy infomercials, "out of the endless amounts of 'As Seen on TV' abdominal products out there, the ab wheel is the best piece of equipment, hands down."

Unlike exercises like sit-ups and crunches, they explained, the ab wheel trains your abs to resist the motion of your spine extending. "When done correctly, by not allowing your lower back to extend or belly button sag towards the floor, the core is working to stabilise the spine," Eric and Ryan said. They use ab wheel exercises as challenging progressions from the plank; once your plank variations start feeling too run-of-the-mill, use an ab wheel to spice things up.

Be warned, ab wheel rollouts are tough; you'll probably be shaking the first few times you try them. But Eric and Ryan gave POPSUGAR four exercises to help you work your way up to a full rollout. Add a few reps of the easiest form, the ab wheel rollout from your knees, to your core workout. As that gets easier, start to tackle the rest of the variations, which get progressively harder.

Keep reading to see exactly how to do each exercise, and remember to take your time progressing from each one. Ab wheel exercises are challenging, and you'll get the most benefit if you fully master the form of each variation before moving on.

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