For starters huh? This could end up being the longest thread in history.
First of all let's get the convo back in context. This started here. That'll open in a separate window.
Pity posted this Cressey vid that had rollouts in it and I said 'it's a rollout it's not rocket science'. I was being sarcastic and tongue in cheek but there is a kind of a point to it. Let me make up a little story to illustrate the point.
Once upon a time there were a bunch of newfangled resistance training devices on the market. What they all had in common was that they were stretchy. Some of them were like springs and looked something like this:
And others later came out that were similar but with rubber bands instead of springs. These were mostly a bodybuidler thing. They were called "chest expanders". Everybody and his mother had one. They were going to look like Reg Park or Charles Atlas or somebody by using it. There were all sorts of real and imagined benefits to it. Surprisingly though, the marketers of these products didn't develop them in some high tech strength training laboratory.
Sure there were some people in some places, with a lot of knowledge, who saw there may be some unique benefits to these kinds of devices in general. But after a surge in popularity they were for years dismissed as a fad for the duped masses and for a long time no serious athlete would be bothered with such a thing.
All those "fadish" devices of yesteryear are back with a vengeance and they are everywhere from rehab, to home workout sets, to professional strength facilities, to hardcore powerlifters. We call them 'resistance bands' and the only thing that really differs is the resistance level and length. They are not even considered "resistance" any more but are "accommodating resistance" and there are just reams of real scientific benefits to using them and reams of completely exaggerated and BS reasons.
Marketing has changed since the old days. Now, you want to sell fitness stuff you've got to have "science" attached to it. Doesn't even have to be real science. Fortunately with resistance bands there is plenty of real reasons to use them. Yet, nothing really has changed since the old days. Talking about "accommodating resistance" doesn't change the fact that a heavy resistance band is a good way to build muscle and a person could do very well with just a bunch of bands, provided they were careful with the resistance levels and exercise choice.
Heck even the spring chest expander can almost be talked about without persecution. But there is still this stigma attached to this kind of thing. It ain't free weights and it ain't fancy machines. There are still people who say 'rubber bands are for pussies'. You don't want to recall this silly "fad" product. So when you talk about them you can't just say, here is a cool way to add resistance. You have to attach all sorts of mysterious and complicated benefits to them and then couple that with a lot of complicated ways to use them. You may not have any training or experience in using them in a real rehab setting with enough of clients, for instance, but that won't stop you from writing about how to use them for rehab and such. The way people talk about using them with weights for powerlifting is similar. People don't just talk about straight forward "scientific" reasons and ways to use them, they have to make it seem almost like mythical science. It's so damned scientific you can't even understand it.
The ab wheel is very similar. Except it never really went away. A lot of these guys writing about ab wheels these days weren't even alive when the ab wheel came out! That's right. It's been around since, I believe, at least the early seventies. That 40 years ago. I had one when I was like 10 or 11. I had a spring chest expander too. Ever since then, during the times when I was training seriously, I always had an ab wheel. Not just me, lots of people. We were underground, lol. Because the ab wheel was a 'bullshit' waste of time and didn't do crap for abs. I mean, Arnold was telling everybody to do crunches.
But of course the ab wheel was a great "ab trainer" and it was a great core trainer only you didn't have to know it to get the benefits. You just needed to not have hardcore people telling you to do fifty to a hundred crunches and not use stupid fad crap like ab wheels.
Kind of suddenly the ab wheel bandwagon is on. The same people who were dismissing it are praising it. But what's changed is the ability to bullshit. We're much more sophisticated at it.
Let me give some perspective on the "science" of the ab wheel. This is language from a study in 2004 which compared the Ab Wheel Rollout to curls, FitBall and AbSlide:
The newest type of abdominal exercise equipment to appear on the market requires the athlete to roll out a wheel-like device while moving from a kneeling position into a prone layout position, then return to the kneeling position.
Some version of an ab wheel made by several different manufactures has ALWAYS been on the market since, like I said before, at least the early seventies. It has JUST NOW, "come to the attention" of the "scientific" community "at large" so to speak. And pretty much every "biomechanical anaysis" of it is using electormyographic studies to compare it to other ab exercises. Funny thing is they don't compare it to "similar" things. For intance, I compared planks. Wouldn't it make sense to use electromyography to compare ab wheel rollout to planks rather than curls? We've already compared and compared trunk flexion to extension avoidance type exercises again and again. Anyway..
The guys who need to jump on the sciency bandwagon seem to want to make up all sorts of fancy sounding reasons for the ab wheel. Now, it's a bit hard to figure out how just how different an ab wheel is from a plank. A pushup activates much the same musulature. They want to make it sound like they are drawing on science up the yahoo but there isn't that much except, again, comparing apples to oranges to different color apples. So we get stuff like "lengthening the lever arm". That's fancy talk for lengthening the body to make the exercise harder. You can't just say it makes it harder you have to make it sound like there is some other benefit to that through the use of fancy terminology. Personally I haven't seen any free body diagrams of the ab wheel rollout…(Joe? Wanna make one?)
So that is why I said walkouts. It's the same effect.
What really separates these exercises (the different prone and supine ones) is whether it's a rehab setting or whether you have specific issues in the spine. There are people that an ab wheel rollout is better for than say a hanging leg raise. But it goes the other way around as well. For someone who is healthy and fit and doesn't have any significant rehab issues or specific spinal problems…there is not a decided benefit between a whole bunch of different "nontraditional" ab exercises or core exercises, if you prefer. It opens up this whole debate whether standing core exercises are better, etc. You get 'transfer of training' debates.
If you accept that regular crunches and situps suck you still have the choice of a bunch of different ones and they all have their claims to efficacy from one extent to another.
When the general public can get a farmers walk thing from Target you'll be getting the same people saying how farmer's walks are better than the ab wheel because, "insert science". My personal opinion right now? The ab wheel is a good thing to have around and do but a farmer's walk is better, lol. But the good news is, if you can do them both safely, you have the choice of doing them both. The farmer's walk is much more funner though.
Some of this could come off, to people who don't know me, as one of those anti-science diatribes. It is nothing of the sort. What I'm talking about is separating the science from what people do with the science. Specifically science here means 'knowledge'. There may be all sorts of facts about ab wheels but what counts at the end of the day is what people do with those facts. Since knowledge is inter-related and inter-woven, facts can be thrown into a lot of different hats, jumbled up, and then come out looking like different "knowledge". The fuller the hat, though, the less significant one subject, such as ab wheel rollouts, becomes.