The barbell rollout is undoubtedly one of the most underrated exercises. However, we can tell you from experience that it’s also one of the most effective for building the core and other muscles as well. It’s a great strengthening exercise that definitely deserves a role in your workouts and we’re going to cover this movement so that you can effectively incorporate it into your training regime.
Here’s a guide to the barbell rollout…
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Iliopsoas, Rectus Abdominis
- Type: Strength/hypertrophy
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Barbell
- Difficulty: Intermediate
The barbell rollout is typically utilized to build the muscles of the core or midsection. However, it works several muscles of which we’ve detailed below.
The iliopsoas musculotendinous unit (IPMU) or iliopsoas is formed by the major and minor psoas and the iliacus. It’s the main and strongest hip flexor muscle (other hip flexors are rectus femoris, sartorius, and tensor fasciae latae), and the iliopsoas muscles can function as one or separately.
The iliopsoas is essential for standing, walking, and running while the iliacus and major psoas function according to different postural changes.
The rectus abdominis is located on the anterior of the midsection which forms the ‘six-pack’. It functions to pull the ribs and pelvis in (curves the back).
The adductor brevis is one of the main hip adductors (movement toward center of the body) along with the adductor longus and adductor magnus. The gracilis (knee flexor) and pectineus muscles (medial rotator and hip flexor) assist in the function of these adductors. The adductor brevis adducts the thighs at the hip, while also flexing and medially rotating the thigh.
The adductor longus is one of the hip adductors as explained above.
The deltoid posterior or rear delts are one of the three heads (other heads are anterior and lateral) that make up the shoulder muscles. It, along with the other two heads, helps to abduct the arm past 15 degrees. And when the arm is abducted past 15 degrees and up to 100 degrees, the posterior and anterior head stabilizes the arm while the lateral head facilitates the movement.
The posterior head also works with the lat muscles to extend the arm during walking.
The pectineous as mentioned previously, assists the adductors, functioning as a medial rotator and hip flexor.
Pectoralis Major Sternal Head
The pectoralis major sternal head is the lower portion of the chest muscles that functions to extend the flexed arm.
The sartorius muscle is actually the longest muscle in the body, that is located across both the knee and hip joint. Consequently, it can also function to flex both joints. It also externally rotates the hips .
Tensor Fasciae Latae
The tensor fascia latae (TFL) is a thigh muscle that works with several muscle to assist in movement and stabilization of the hip and the knee. Along with the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, the TFL internally rotates and abducts the hip. It also works with the gluteus maximus to abduct the hip via the iliotibial (IT) band.
The TFL also assists the rectus femoris in the flexion of the hip, and assists in pelvis stability while standing and walking.
The teres major is located above the latissumus dorsi and is attached to the shoulder blades and upper arm bone. It functions to medially rotate and adduct the arm, and it stabilizes the shoulder joint.
How To Do The Barbell Rollout
The barbell rollout is not typically a beginner exercise
- Load the barbell with either a 25 or 45lb plate on each side.
- Get into a kneeling position and grip the bar about shoulder-width.
- Keep your core tight and back straight then push the barbell out until you’re in a superman position. Keep your arms completely straight during the entire movement. Don’t drop your hips down.
- Use your core to pull the weight back toward your knees and repeat.
Barbell Rollout Tips:
- Make sure to keep your back straight or even slightly rounded as not doing so will limit optimal abdominal activity.
- Do not allow your hips or butt to sink down.
- Use your core to eccentrically control the weight while in the extended, rolled out position and make sure your abs are contracting to pull the weight back in. Using your arms to pull the weight back defeats the purpose of the exercise.
- If you can’t complete the entire range of motion, roll out as far as you can and keep trying to progress further and further.
3 Rollout Variations
There are a few variations of this movement that you can do without having to use a barbell, which makes it a pretty versatile exercise.
The ab wheel device is no doubt the most popular variation. It does much of the same thing but it takes up a lot less space. Although, it may require a little more balance and stability which is definitely a good thing especially if you’re trying to train your core muscles.
Bodyweight sliding variation
You can replicate the barbell rollout by placing something that’ll slide across the floor under your hands. Dryer sheets, paper towels, tupperware caps, moving sliders are all great options.
Some people will also walk their hands forward and walk them back as an alternative but the sliding variation is excellent, and this is a very effective method also used for other exercises as well.
Using a stability ball
A stability or exercise ball is a very useful tool that is also recommend for beginners because it’s easier. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy though because it does require additional stabilization and balance to do it effectively.
Here’s a great video example with instructions…
How To Incorporate The Barbell Rollout Into Your Training Routine
The barbell rollout is a pretty intense exercise when done right. That’s why we recommend either doing it after your primary lifts in a workout session or as part of your core training routine. Just make sure that you are adequately warmed up before performing this exercise since it does involve stretching of the core muscles.
- 3 sets x 8-15 reps is a good range to stick within
One great way to include the barbell rollout in your training is to do supersets which involves doing two exercises back to back. So, for example, you’d do hanging leg raises and then jump right into the barbell rollout. You could take a short rest break and then repeat this for 3 total sets.
The rollout also makes for a great circuit training exercise which involves doing a series of exercises for rounds.
The barbell rollout has earned its place in any core training routine. It takes a little practice but once you become proficient at it, get ready because the gains are coming. We hope that you found this guide helpful and now it’s time to get to training!