We got the chance to hang out at Jogo Gym in Bellingham, WA for a few days, before and after our workshop there. Gym owner Emilie Hester was nice enough to let us train early one morning between classes, which meant we got the space to ourselves, and were able to play with all kinds of fun toys. We jumped on their plyo boxes, hit a few reverse hypers and got to the business preparing to deadlift… until I stumbled across a strange contraption in the back corner of the gym.
M: Hey Dallas – do you know what this thing does?
D: (Eyes light up.) Yep. And you’ll be sorry you asked.
M: Crap. Want the good news?
D: What’s the good news?
M: They’ve got MORE THAN ONE.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Power Wheel. It’s similar in nature to an ab wheel, designed to work core strength and stability. The difference is that you you strap the contraption on your feet instead of holding on to it with your hands. Which, in a scientific study recently conducted in Bellingham, WA, increases your suffering by 72.4%.
After my deadlift 5×5, I grabbed what will henceforth be known as the Wheel of Doom and awkwardly strapped it on. I assumed a push-up position and, bringing my knees in towards my chest, worked reverse roll-outs in sets of 10. Which quickly turned into sets of five, as I realized the the tension needed to keep yourself from tipping to one side (and keep the wheel rolling in a straight line) was significantly more demanding than traditional hand-wheel roll-outs. Dallas worked some pike position roll-outs while I played with my scaled version for a few more sets. Then it was time for our cash-out.
Jogo gym is long and narrow, leaving plenty of floor space for walking lunges, farmer’s walks, and… bear crawls. And on that morning, our crawls were sponsored by the Doom-Wheel. Push-up position, slightly hollow, tight core and tons of cross-body tension… and crawl. I made the length of the gym (maybe 30M) once, and had to break up the next two rounds. It was just as awkward as a kettlebell bear crawl, but the cross-body tension required to keep your body in line and the wheel going straight was by far my limiting factor.
I was about to head back up the gym for a self-imposed Suffer Round when Dallas stopped me.
D: I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you should stop.
M: Oh. Really?
D: Yeah. Really.
M: Um, am I gonna feel okay tomorrow?
D: I think you just gave yourself a new ab. And you’re not going to want to laugh. At all.
M. Oh. Okay.
The next day wasn’t quite as bad as predicted, although my abs did hurt in a way that only heavy front squats and one leg renegade rows can duplicate. I can imagine doing these bear crawls as a regular part of your met-con, cash-out or track workout, but a word of caution to start slow and carefully. I suspect based on my experience that a 400M Power Wheel crawl has the potential to cripple you for days, and a saggy, twisty back would seriously compromise your spine as you get more and more tired. The key is to maintain core stability, a solid hollow position and cross-body tension at all costs, and work sets in short bursts with perfect form. (Google “Power Wheel Roll-Outs” for training tips, exercise ideas and scaling options.)
Thanks to Emilie and Jogo for the hospitality, and the opportunity to play with something new. We’ve got a Power Wheel on order as we speak – my seventh ab can’t wait to give it another go.
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