I did 7-minute abs wheel planks every day for a week — here’s what happened to my body

Woman at home doing an abs wheel plank
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Seven-minute planks are challenging enough, but abs wheel planks take the bodyweight core exercise to a whole new level of ouch. I dedicated seven minutes each day for one week to see what, if anything, would happen.

Of course, I’m not talking about physiological changes to how my body looks — spoiler, no sculpted six-pack or chiseled torso is waiting at the finish line just because I upped the ante on planks. Sadly. 

That aside, you’ll be surprised how a week-long fitness challenge can help you learn about your body. I rolled out one of the best yoga mats for home workouts (I love the Lululemon Take Form) and got going. Here’s what happened. 

How to do abs wheel planks

Man using an abs wheel during abs rollouts in a studio

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s no surprise you’ll need an abs wheel for the abs wheel plank. The thinner the wheel, the more challenging it will be for your muscles, balance and stability. For beginners, a thicker wheel is more accessible, and you can start from your knees if you find the exercise too difficult. 

  • Start kneeling on the floor or an exercise mat with the abs wheel in front of you
  • Grip the handles with both hands
  • Step back into a plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and hips aligned with your shoulders
  • Brace your stomach, glutes and thighs and contract as many muscles as possible to create a solid torso
  • Keep your arms straight and hold the position.

I did 7-minute ab wheel planks every day for a week — here’s what happened to my body 

With the form nailed, I decided to add the core-focused exercise to my daily routine for a week. To fit the move in alongside my regular training, I settled on seven minutes of abs wheel planks each day. Here's what happened. 

It's a full-body burner

The plank is categorized as a core workout but hits every major muscle group in the body, including the shoulders, chest, arms, lower back, abs, obliques, hips, glutes, thighs and hamstrings.

Performing a plank requires full-body contraction, meaning you’ll squeeze as many muscles as possible while maintaining a consistent inhale-exhale. I’m very familiar with planks, so I opted for seven 60-second working sets with a brief rest between them.

It’s safe to say that my core and shoulders were on fire by the end of the seventh set, and I had to be careful to maintain a solid torso to avoid sending weight into my lower back.

It tested my balance and stability

The abs wheel plank tests your body’s neuromuscular ability to build stability while balanced on a thin wheel, which means your muscles ultimately work harder to keep you stable.

To up the ante even more, I attempted to roll toward a stronger core by guiding the wheel slightly forward and back while holding the plank position and engaging more of my shoulders, chest and abs.

The progression requires full control over the wheel, and I kept my shoulders tracking over the wheel at all times, slightly shifting my weight forward as I moved.

The toughest part of this variation is the rollback, which requires you to almost drag the wheel toward you, firing up muscles I didn’t even know I had. Using a sticky-grip yoga mat created more friction, working my muscles even harder.

My whole body felt switched on

Abs wheel planks, performed alongside a regular exercise routine, can help strengthen your abdominal muscles and improve core strength. I love that this plank variation also targets the muscles responsible for stabilization, including my hip flexors, glutes, deeper core muscles called the transverse abdominis and lower back. 

I experienced 360-degree torso engagement during the exercise and, throughout the week, felt myself dialing into how my body felt — tired, mostly, but in a good way like I’d had a full-body workout. On some days, I practiced lifting one leg at a time for 20-30 seconds, then switching sides. 

Lifting a leg helped engage my hips, glutes, hamstrings and quads and made me work harder to stay balanced and parallel to the mat. I wouldn't recommend it if you find the standard abs wheel plank tough to maintain, but it helped spice things up for me over the week.

What are the benefits of abs wheel planks?

As mentioned, the abs wheel plank builds core strength, improves stability and control and targets the muscles responsible for posture, stabilization and balance, which can also improve your functional fitness and protect you from injury.

By the end of the week, how did I feel? Surprisingly, my tolerance has built, my form feels stronger, and (on the last day), I felt less concerned about the clock ticking down. But ultimately, my body looks the same, and just like Rome, strength isn't built in a day (or week). 

If you want to sculpt muscle definition, even a month of planks alone won’t do it. I recommend adding compound exercises into your routine, recruiting large and powerful muscles that will help you burn calories and expend more energy while still recruiting your core muscles. 

I also recommend dialing into your diet as body fat percentage plays a big role in how much of your muscles you can see. 

More from Tom's Guide

Back to Yoga Mats
Any Price
Showing 10 of 108 deals
Our Review
Gaiam Kids Yoga Mat Exercise...
Our Review
Gaiam Yoga Mat Slap Band,...
Our Review
Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
Our Review
Gaiam Kids' Yoga Mat - Rocket...
Our Review
Gaiam Stay-Put Yoga Mat...
Our Review
Manduka PRO Lite Yoga Mat -...
Our Review
Gaiam Kids Yoga Mat Exercise...
Our Review
Manduka PRO Lite Yoga Mat -...
Our Review
Gaiam No-Slip Yoga Mat Towel,...
Our Review
Manduka PRO Lite Yoga Mat -...
Load more deals
Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.