Abdominal exercise

Top 10 Body Weight Exercises No. 8 – Abdo roll-out

Abdo roll-out

The abdo roll-out is an advanced core exercise focusing on the eccentric (muscle lengthening) element of the abdominal musculature contraction. Eccentric contractions are those where muscle fibres are lengthening under load. This is always an important part of the exercise to work as it has a direct and functional performance relation to movement in sport. What does this mean? Read on…

Highlight on eccentric contractions for sport:

Eccentric contractions occur when a muscle is lengthening while force is applied to it, i.e. when a bicep curl movement is traveling back to the return position from the shoulder to the hips. Let’s bring our bicep into an example of how eccentric contractions are important in sport.

Imagine a fielder catching a ball in one hand. As the ball is caught the elbow is in a flexed position and the bicep is half flexed. In order to decelerate the speed of the ball, the bicep (plus controlling contraction from the triceps) needs to eccentrically contract to stop the arm extending too quickly. These type of contractions are happening constantly throughout the body during many sporting actions and training for them produces a more stable and faster performance with less likelihood of injury.

Primary muscles worked: rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis.

Secondary muscles worked: Isometric use of iliopsoas (hip flexors), lower back, gluteus maximus, pectoralis and deltoids.

Benefits: Develops a strong abdominal area. Improves stability of the pelvic and lower spinal structures.

Good for: Any sporting movement, especially those requiring stability and integrated strength of the lower and upper torso, for example: athletics, swimming or gymnastics (questionably, not darts!).

How to do it: …….

  • kneel down behind a Swiss Ball and lean forward onto the ball using your forearms
  • drop your hips down in-line with the body – you should now feel tension in the abdominal muscles
  • keeping the core `braced`, slowly extend the elbows and lengthen the arms as far as possible
  • draw the arms back to the start point and repeat for: 2 or 3 sets x 12 – 20 reps


  • If you’re feeling pain in the lower back reduce the distance the arms extend
  • keep the neck neutral by looking at the ball
  • keep constant tension in the abdominal muscles to work them effectively and support the back


  • Full position: from feet as opposed to knees – this is advanced and requires significant core strength to perform (don’t try it at home kids unless you’re well practiced!)

Other upper body weight movements in the series: