The ab rollout is significantly more difficult to perform than front plank.
You have a plethora of choices when it comes to putting together a core workout. Commonly, isometric exercises, which force your core muscles to hold a static position, are overlooked. Both the ab rollout using the ab wheel and the plank are used to work your core isometrically, which in turn helps you maintain proper posture and reduce your risk of back pain. If you're just beginning a core strength program, you'll want to begin with the less challenging front plank.
ID the Muscles Worked
Both the ab rollout and planks work the rectus abdominis, which is the largest and major abdominal muscle. The obliques, at the sides of your torso, and the hip flexors, which are a collection of muscles located at the front of your hips, also contribute to both exercises. According to ExRx.net, the hip flexors are the primary muscles worked during the ab rollout, while it's your rectus abdominis that's worked in the front plank. In addition, the ab roller requires work from the latissimus dorsi, which is the broad muscle in your upper back that when developed gives you the "winged" appearance. This muscle prevents your arms from giving out as you roll the wheel away from you.
Consider the Benefits of Isometrics
The ab rollout and plank challenge your abs and obliques isometrically, which means the muscles work to hold your spine in a static position. When you're sitting or standing, your abs and obliques are forced to consistently isometrically contract in order for you to maintain proper posture. Building isometric strength in your core muscles with exercises like the ab rollout and plank allows those muscles to hold your spine in correct alignment for a longer duration.
Use the Ab Wheel
To perform the ab rollout, kneel with your knees together and the wheel on the floor in front of you. Reach down and grip the handles of the wheel. Roll the wheel out away from your body, finishing with your arms extended and your hips and torso in a straight line. Hold this extended position for a moment, then roll the wheel in toward your knees to return to the starting position. Immediately begin the next repetition. You can change it up by rolling out diagonally to the left and then to the right on the next rep, which will concentrate more on the outer oblique muscles.
Perform the Plank
The plank doesn't require any equipment. Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat or other soft surface. Set your elbows on the floor so they're directly under your shoulders. Rise up onto your forearms and toes, so your thighs and torso are off the floor and form a straight line. Do not allow your hips to stick up or sag toward the floor. Hold this position for a duration of five to 10 seconds for beginners. Increase the duration as your core muscles become stronger.
Pay Attention to Your Body
The plank is often used as a way to develop isometric abdominal and oblique strength to eventually move on to rollout exercises. If you suffer from lower back issues, you may want to limit your range of motion, or simply stay away from the ab wheel. If you don't have adequate abdominal and oblique strength, as you roll the wheel out, you could hyperextend your spine. This places significant compressive forces on your spinal discs.