What’s better than an ab roller for a hardcore core workout? Well, according to the team behind the SKLZ Core Wheels, the answer is simple: two ab rollers. And judging by the evidence from our tests, they would be right; the product wowed our in-house testers, earning it the top spot on our list of the best ab rollers.
SKLZ inverts the usual ab roller set-up of a central wheel with handles on either side, instead providing a plush foam handle with rubber wheels on each end. What really sets the Core Wheels apart, though, is the fact there are two for them. As a result, if you’re new to resistance training and wondering how to get a stronger core (opens in new tab), all movements can be scaled to make them easier – just use a roller with one hand while keeping your other hand on the ground as a point of stability.
– Unique dual-roller design
– Plush foam handles
– Smaller, sturdy rubber wheels
As you grow stronger, you can progress to trickier variations of each movement, so whatever your ability level the SKLZ Core Wheels have something for you.
They’re more versatile than your average ab roller too, with the dual-handled design opening up a world of possibilities for upper body strengthening movements like chest flyes and alligator push-ups.
So, if it’s a scalable, fun and effective training tool you’re after, look no further.
The SKLZ Core Wheels can be bought for $44.999 from the SKLZ website in the US or £32.00 from Amazon in the UK, making them a mid-range option among the ab rollers we tested.
However, they are more versatile than your average ab roller and benefit from a sturdy build, which we think justifies the higher price.
Set-up and design
- Set-up and design score: 5/5
The SKLZ Core Wheels arrive already assembled, so all you have to do is remove them from the box and you’re ready to rock and roll (emphasis firmly on the roll). This was far less fiddly than the likes of the overcomplicated Lifeline Power Wheel, making a good first impression on our testers.
They come with a small manual explaining how to do some exercises to get you started, or if you’re in need of a few more ideas you can go to the SKLZ YouTube page to find enjoyable variations of bodyweight training staples like the plank and push-up. These are a few years old now, but they are still a handy training resource.
The foam handles are plush and comfortable, without being so thick they’re hard to grip, and the rubber wheels feel sturdy and hardwearing, leaving us confident the rollers could handle our weight in the plank and pike positions.
The slightly sticky rubber tread picks up dust quite easily, but this wasn’t too difficult to clean and was our only design gripe. This feature also gives them a non-slip quality, making them safer to use on potentially slippery surfaces like tiled floors.
The wheels move smoothly and the handles have a subtly ergonomic design, with a thicker center and narrower ends to better fit the shape of our hands. The Core Wheels are lightweight and compact too, measuring just 6in by 9.5in, so they can easily be slipped into most gym bags if you want to finish your lifting session with a quick abs blast.
As mentioned previously, the standout feature of the SKLZ Core Wheels is the fact there are two of them, making them a far more versatile training tool than the average ab roller.
You can still perform most of the ab roller exercises (opens in new tab) you would expect from a standard machine, such as ab wheel rollouts and roller planks, but you can also perform upper body strength exercises like chest flyes and Archer push-ups.
Their two-pronged approach makes the SKLZ Core Wheels a good option for beginners too, as it allows you to perform easier versions of advanced movements. For example, if you find a kneeling ab wheel rollout slightly too difficult, you can place one hand on a roller and the other one on the ground as a point of stability before performing the rollout with a single arm. This is a great way to get used to the movement pattern and build up your strength before you progress to more advanced versions of each exercise.
The Core Wheels have a solid feel that inspired confidence when using them. We never felt like they were going to let us down, even when directing the majority of our body weight down through the handles while in a pike position. The foam handles are plush but feel hardwearing, and (a little bit of dust aside) the rubber wheels showed no signs of damage or marking after we had tested them on the best yoga mats (opens in new tab), gym mats, tiles, wood and cement flooring.
- Functionality score: 4.5/5
If you’re of the opinion that, “Once you’ve seen one ab roller, you’ve seen them all”, the SKLZ Core Wheels are here to prove you wrong. They’re a breath of fresh air in the ab roller market, and one we genuinely enjoyed testing.
Performing more conventional ab roller exercises like kneeling ab wheel rollouts or a jack knife, we found the wheels moved smoothly and the handles continued to feel comfortable throughout workouts, preventing our hands from fatiguing.
The wheels are on the smaller side so, unlike the Lifeline Power Wheel, they won’t work on uneven outdoor surfaces like grass, and the slightly sticky rubber can pick up dust quite easily. But, if you’re working out at home or on a mat, this won’t be a problem, and the slight stickiness of the rubber wheels means they won’t slip during use.
The opportunity to scale difficult movements makes them more accessible for anyone new to resistance or weight training (opens in new tab), and the fact you have a roller in each hand means you can decide how wide your grip is (with slightly more spaced out hands putting less strain on your shoulders than the narrow grip facilitated by normal ab rollers).
The result of this is a more comfortable ab workout, which still has the ability to torch your core and leave your abs feeling well and truly worked.
However, don’t be fooled, there’s plenty to keep seasoned exercisers entertained too. When we moved on to exercises that are more specific to the SKLZ Core Wheels like alligator push-ups, dynamic planks and thoracic mobility work (opens in new tab), we found adding instability and movement to classic exercises increased their difficulty. This activated our abdominals more as we worked to stay stable, while also hitting our chest, shoulders, triceps and other stabilizing muscles.
Overall, it was fun to try a new way of training our abs, and the Core Wheels provided a welcome break from the home workout staples of standard push-ups and planks.
Value for money
- Value for money score: 4.5/5
At $44.99 (or a slightly cheaper £32.99 in the UK) the SKLZ Core Wheels fall firmly in the middle of our price range when compared to other ab rollers we tested. They’re cheaper than products that pride themselves on innovation, like the Lifeline Power Wheel and the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro, but they’re slightly pricier than traditional models such as the Vinsguir Ab Roller and the Gymshark Ab Roller.
However, we think their versatility, individuality, and clever yet functional design more than merit this slight price hike, and definitely think they’re worth the extra investment.
Of all the ab rollers we tested, the SKLZ Core Wheels were our favorite. Their innovative yet simple reinvention of the wheel makes them far more versatile than a standard ab roller, allowing us to complete upper body strength exercises and scale advanced core exercises to suit our fitness level. Meanwhile the opportunity to widen our grip took some of the strain off our shoulders – a common issue people encounter with ab rollers.
They’re a well-made product too, with the comfortable yet hard wearing handles and sturdy rubber wheels emerging from our tests blemish-free (aside from a little dust on the wheels).
So, we think they would make a nifty, not to mention durable, addition to any home gym arsenal, and one that can add a sense of experimentation and fun to your gym-free workout routine.
If this isn’t for you
If you’re simply after a standard ab roller, but don’t want to sacrifice quality, we would recommend the sturdily built Vinsguir Ab Roller (above). It has a classic design, allowing you to perform exercises like ab wheel rollouts with no fuss, but sets itself apart from its competitors through its use of premium materials. The stainless steel central handle feels robust, and the plastic central wheel has a rubber tread around the outside. The wheel is also thicker than most ab rollers to stop it veering off-course during some exercises.
Or, if you want a budget option, the Gymshark Ab Roller can be picked up for just $20 (£18). Don’t worry, though, for your money you still get padded handles and grooved wheels for added grip, so you can train your core in comfort – burning abs aside.
How we test ab rollers
We took some of the best ab rollers out for a spin to see which ones were able to torch our core. Our in-house testers completed these eight ab roller exercises with each roller, taking note of their set-up and design, durability, and functionality. We also tested out any additional innovative features they had to offer – such as the unique foot straps of the Lifeline Power Wheel Ultimate Core Trainer – and considered the value for money provided by each product. These factors were combined to deliver a final score out of five stars.
The SKLZ Core Wheels score an impressive 4.7 stars out of a possible five on Amazon, from more than 1,400 customer ratings. Customers loved their compact design, saying they were a far less intrusive training tool than the likes of a weights bench, while still allowing them to train their core, chest, shoulders and more. A couple of reviewers highlighted that they are more expensive than an average ab roller, but more than 1,000 five star reviews suggest most people were happy to pay for their enhanced functionality.