Introduction: How to Make Your Own Ab Wheel and Ab Wheel Alternatives

Picture of How to Make Your Own Ab Wheel and Ab Wheel Alternatives

How to make your own ab wheel if you are living in India.

If you have searched online stores like ebay_dot_in to buy ab-wheels in India, you will notice that they don't come very cheap. Their cost, which is typically around Rs 500, is disproportionate to the simplicity of the device, and they cost even more if imported (a few thousands of rupees). That's a lot to spend on a device you can easily make yourself for Rs 150 or less. Plus, only the one wheel version is available for sale. Inspired by Ross Enamait's four wheel alternative, I set out to make one myself. Here are the articles required and the steps for construction:

Step 1: Articles Needed

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You will need:
1. Four 'bicycle balance wheels' made of plastic. They are cheap and are easily available in cycle repair shops in India. Diameter of the ones I'm using is 10.7 cm and width at circumference is 3.2 cm.
2. Two cylindrical iron/steel rods. Diameter 1.25 cm.
3. Transparent cello-tape.
4. 7 meters of thick, cotton rope. (They are typically used to tie mosquito nets to bed poles or nails on walls. If you are living in Bengal, ask for 'moshaari taangaanor dori', i.e. rope to hang a mosquito net)
5. 2 meters of cotton thread.
6. some newspaper
7. a pair of scissors
8. a blunt pencil

Step 2: Remove the Lids

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Use a blunt pencil to push and loosen the pegs of the wheel-lid from their slots in the main wheel. The lid should come off easily with a little patience.

Step 3: Cello Tape to Reduce Friction

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If your steel/iron rod is somewhat rusted on the surface (not all through its body else it could break under pressure!), wrap cello-tape few times in between 2 to 6 centimeters from one end. It is up to you to decide how many times to wrap: too few and the tape would wear down from abrasion with the wheel, too much and the wheel would not rotate smoothly. Wrap in cork-screw fashion (over 4 centimeters of the rod).

Step 4: Wind the Rope for Hand-grip

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About 10 cm from one end, start winding the rope. Secure the beginning of the rope with tape. 

Step 5: Secure Ends With Tape

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Keep winding till you reach the point at a distance of 10 cm from the other end. Now wind back to the beginning position. Secure this end also with tape (of course). Remember to wind as tightly and closely as you can (here's the advantage of using a cotton rope over a nylon rope: there's less chance of a cotton rope slipping).

Step 6: To Prevent Wheels From Coming Out

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Tie thread to limit the lateral movement of the wheel and to prevent it from escaping the shaft. In particular, it might be necessary to tie thread near the grip to prevent the wheel from coming too close to your hand and rubbing against your hand.

Step 7: Almost Done...

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...but do not skip the safety measure in the next step

Step 8: Careful of Sharp Edges!

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There could be sharp edges at the ends of the rods (depends on the manner the rod was cut) and they can be a potential cause of accident or injury. You could file away those sharp edges; better it would be to cover the ends with something soft. I rolled up newspapers and attached them to each end, as explained in the pictures.

Step 9: Hooray!

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(update, 4 Jan 2012:
It may happen that you experience the wheels rotating less smoothly after some days of use because the cello-tape starts coming off in tiny pieces due to abrasion. Applying talcum powder at the axle will restore the smooth rotation!)

Step 10: Ab Wheel Alternatives

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The main idea behind using an ab-wheel is to offer little resistance to your outstretched hands from extending even further. It falls on your core muscles entirely to maintain your body in the horizontal or slightly-angled position, whereas if you use your palms the friction between your palms and the floor makes it a lot easier on your core. Hence, as alternatives to the traditional ab-wheel, you could use:
1. An ice block to provide a slippery surface for your palms (just kidding! your fingers will get frost bite!)
2. Screw a four-wheeled caster to a small wooden board. Make two of those, one for each hand.
3. Use a pair of roller skates (same idea as point 2)! To provide something to grip with your hands, you could think of rolling a newspaper tightly and tying it to each skate.
4. The effective part of the ab-wheel exercise is the position where you have extended as far as your current core strength will let you go and hold. So, I believe, instead of jackknifing, just holding that farthest-for-you position will be enough exercise. So, from the initial position you could just walk your hands to a wooden board kept on three or four cylindrical/spherical objects! (Like pieces of a PVC pipe! Tennis balls! See diagram.)
5. Get creative; daydream for more ideas on wheels or frictionless surfaces!

All these alternatives can be had for less than Rs 500.

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