The Homemade Wheel

By Ross Enamait - Published in 2008

Several years ago (January, 2005), I posted a brief video that included a homemade wheel demonstration. In the time since, I've received several questions regarding these homemade wheels. To avoid further confusion, I have created a new video clip dedicated specifically to this homemade tool. To fully understand the video however, I strongly encourage reading through this entire article.


Building The Wheel


Before discussing the benefits of the wheel, it first makes sense to discuss the construction of this low-tech tool.

A trip to Home Depot will be all that is necessary to locate the tools for this job. Each roller will require two 6-inch lawnmower tires, a 10-inch hex bolt (1/2 inch thick), duct tape, and a few hose clamps.

Secure one tire at each end of the hex bolt. Small hose clamps can be used to keep the wheels in place.

Next, wrap the handle with duct tape to increase its thickness. The standard 1/2 inch handle is too thin on its own. Duct tape is a quick fix to this problem.

More sophisticated techniques could certainly be used to increase handle thickness, but my low-tech solution is more than adequate.

My duct tape model may not be the most visually appealing, but it gets the job done. And let's not forget that beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
December 2009 Update - Since first making these wheels back in 2005, there have been several discussions on the forum regarding handle upgrades (ex. using PVC). Refer to the blog entry below for additional ideas regarding wheel construction:

Homemade Wheel Update

Why Bother?


Before constructing this tool, you are likely wondering why bother with such a project. Why not simply purchase a two handed, store bought model? I have my reasons...

In addition to its unilateral benefits, the single handed model allows for several additional movements (demonstrated within the video above). Many of these exercises would not be possible with a traditional wheel.

The single handed wheel also offers a smoother, more controlled roll when compared to many of the poorly constructed (plastic) models. The lawnmower tires that I use are built to last and endure outdoor terrain. The wheels seen in the video above are the same wheels that I demonstrated several years ago. They are used regularly by several athletes, including myself, and show no signs of wear. And just in case you are wondering, I do not own stock in Home Depot, so I have nothing to gain if you purchase the supplies.

Furthermore, traditional wheels have become slightly more difficult to locate in recent years. After the ab wheel craze that came several years ago, many of the wheel manufacturers have either gone belly up or simply abandoned the product. Five or six years ago, I can remember purchasing cheap wheels at Wal-mart for a few dollars. Wal-mart no longer carries the wheels however. You'll likely need to spend more money for a product that is still poorly constructed, sitting atop plastic wheels that lack stability. As you can see, the homemade wheels may not be such a crazy idea after all.

As for the benefits, the wheel is one of my favorite core training tools. Yes, "core training" is an overused buzz phrase that induces nausea among many, but the original concept still has merit. There is so much that you can do (and accomplish) with this simple piece of equipment. It truly becomes a full body exercise tool. The wheels are effective, inexpensive, easy to pack when traveling, and quiet when used. As a father to a toddler (with another on the way) a quiet strength tool comes in handy, much more than I would have ever guessed.

An Important Reminder


It is worth noting that the ab wheel, although simplistic in nature, is a challenging piece of equipment. The advanced variations will require a great deal of strength for safe performance. A novice may need years, not months, to perform these movements. Do not rush to perform the advanced exercises. Slow and steady not only wins the race, but ensures a healthy start and finish.

Conversely, the wheel is not a dangerous piece of equipment. Unfortunately, I often see the wheel described as harmful to the low back. Such statements are false. Back problems do not begin with the wheel. Back problems originate through neglect. Many athletes in today's era have neglected the back. While striving to enhance the visible mirror muscles, the posterior chain is all but forgotten. For example, the large erector spinae muscles (prime mover of back extension) often receive little, if any direct work (big mistake). When any muscle group is neglected, and then put under considerable strain, injuries may result. Overexertion to an underdeveloped muscle group does not mean that an exercise is dangerous. Ignorance is far more dangerous than any movement.

Please Note - The standing variations seen within the video are much more challenging than those from the knees. Do not rush to perform these exercises. The stabilization needs are considerable for all standing rollouts. If you lack strength in this department, you may notice your hips caving towards the ground. This response signals that you should be working with a less strenuous exercise.

The Exercises


Below, I have provided a brief summary of each exercise seen within the video. The descriptions, although brief, should clarify the purpose and significance of each movement.

Summary


Aside from the physical benefits, the wheel is inexpensive, easy to build, easy to pack when traveling, and one of the more enjoyable pieces of equipment to use. The wheel has long been a staple in my own training plan. I use it regularly and continue to reap benefits from this versatile piece of equipment.





About the Author - Ross Enamait is an innovative athlete and trainer, whose training style is among the most intense that you will find. Ross is committed to excellence and advancements in high performance conditioning and strength development. He has a sincere interest in helping today's athlete in their quest for greatness.

Ross has authored several training manuals, and operates a training business in the New England area. Feel free to contact him at [email protected], and follow his regular updates at www.rosstraining.com/blog
.