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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

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More Training Info > Forward Barbell Rollout

Exercise of the Month: Forward Barbell Rollout


To strongly engage all the abdominal muscles as well as the triceps and pectorals, try this challenging core exercise or its ball variation. This movement is particularly helpful for outdoor sports that require high tension in the core (meaning strong interaction between upper and lower body) such as paddling sports, climbing, or cross-country skiing.


Kneel and place your hands 12-18 inches apart on a lightly loaded barbell on the floor in front of you. Use 2.5-5# plates on each side initially to elevate the bar slightly above the floor so you avoid dragging your knuckles on the ground as you roll the bar. Keeping your abdominals tight, inhale and roll the barbell forward as far as you can while maintaining control, and then exhale as you roll back to start.


On the first repetition, proceed slowly so that you can gauge when you need to pull back. Avoid letting the back hyperextend at the start or end position. Keep your arms straight but not locked to prevent the upper body from fatiguing before the core muscles do. Include this exercise in the late stages of core training once you have built a solid foundation of core strength. If forward flexion is contraindicated for you, do not do this exercise.


To perform the forward ball roll-out, start on your knees (floor or mat is up to you) facing a ball. Hand position is whatever is most comfortable: try placing your palms face down on the ball, cupping hands into fists with knuckles together and heels of hands on the ball, or clasping hands together with pinkies on the ball. Keep your abdominals tight and maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your hips to your knees as you roll the ball forward. As your strength increases, try doing this exercise on your toes.


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