Barbell Rollout on Knees: CrossFit Ab Exercise

The Barbell Rollout is a CrossFit exercise that pumps and works on the abs, back muscles and triceps very well. But this is effective only when the correct technique is followed. Training with a barbell can be highly effective when done correctly.

This exercise is mainly intended for experienced athletes, but doing the Barbell Rollout on the knees is the best and safest way to initiate the correct technique and the best exercise for beginners. We warn you that the Barbell Ab Rollout is one of the most traumatic exercises for the spine, this is why having good stabilizing muscles within the back and core are key. But the risk can be minimized if you follow the correct execution of the technique.

The Benefits of the Barbell Rollout

When performing the Barbell Rollout on knees, the load is not only received by the abs, but also strengthens the: chest, back, shoulders and arms. Also consider the other advantages of performing Barbell Rollouts, which are:

  • Correct your posture. The Rollout with a barbell works out the muscles responsible for the straight position of the back, which helps to cope with slouching and forms a beautiful and even body posture.
  • Getting rid of back pain. Pain caused by physical overstrain of the muscles is easily removed by performing several sets of the Barbell Rollout.
  • Increased stamina. Constant static tension of the large muscle groups when performing these rollouts, has a positive effect on increasing the overall endurance of the muscles.
  • Weight Loss. When performing ab exercises with the barbell, several muscle groups are simultaneously involved in the exercise. This helps to speed up the metabolism of the body and thus, burn extra calories.

Also note that the Barbell Ab Rollout helps to improve results in other exercises also by strengthening certain muscles. For example, by strengthening the back muscles, an athlete can increase their working weights within their squats or their deadlifts.

crossfit barbell ab rollout

How to Do a Barbell Rollout?

  1. Load the barbell with 2-5 kg plates evenly on each side of the bar and position yourself on your knees;
  2. Place the barbell on the floor in front of you, so that you are in a position similar to a knee push-up. But do not rest your hands on the floor, instead, place your hands evenly on the barbell in front of you. This is the starting position;
  3. As you inhale, slowly roll the barbell forward while pulling the body into a straight line. Lower yourself as low as possible to the floor while still in a ridged position, but don’t let your body touch the floor;
  4. Hold this position for a second or two and then slowly, pull back up, keeping your body ridged and letting your abdominals do the work and return to the starting position on the exhalation. To further increase the load in this exercise, move slowly when completing your reps and keep your abs tense throughout the exercise.
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You can also complete this exercise on straight legs, which is the original Barbell Rollout, but this takes immense practice and good body strength. So only perform this exercise without the knees, if you are confident in your own abilities.


There is a fairly wide selection of crossfit exercises that strengthen the core muscles. Barbell Rollout refers to one of the most powerful ways. But we will also consider the alternative options below:

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Hanging Knee Raises

With a wide or medium based grip, grasp the horizontal bar. With your legs initially straightened and keeping a solid posture, bend your legs from the pelvis and raise them so that a right angle is formed between the lower leg and the thigh. Hold for a few seconds and then, slowly return to the starting position. Within this exercise you must keep your body ridged and from swinging, to avoid taking the working weight away from the abdominal muscles.

Plank with Opposite Arm and Leg Lift

This is similar to the normal Plank, but with enhanced working weight being put on through the torso. Place yourself horizontally with your elbows and your feet touching the floor. so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Tighten the muscles of the abs and the buttocks and put your feet shoulder-width apart. Then lift one arm and the opposite leg off the floor at the same time. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Once this is complete, you may repeat this movement but using the opposite hand and foot. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Muscle Does Barbell Rollout Work?

When performing the Barbell Ab Rollout, the following muscles are worked in this exercise:

  • Iliopsoas muscle;
  • Rectus abdominis muscle;
  • Abdominal external oblique muscles;
  • Erector spinae muscles;
  • Latissimus dorsi muscles;
  • Teres muscles of back;
  • Pectoralis minor muscle;
  • Deltoid muscles;
  • Long head triceps;
  • Quadriceps.

How Many Should I Do a Barbell Rollout?

We recommend doing 3 sets of the Barbell Rollout exercise for 8-10 reps. The rest between sets is 1 minute. You can increase the number of reps and also shorten your rest time as you get stronger and more familiar with the workout.

What are the Contraindications to Barbell Rollout?

The Barbell Ab Rollout should not be carried out if you have any severe injuries, or for any of the following underlying health conditions:

  • Intervertebral hernia;
  • Scoliosis;
  • Diseases of the lumbosacral spine;
  • Chronic Shoulder or elbow injuries.

Please note, these exercises can be very effective, but only if done correctly. It is first recommended to start with a low working weight, or in this case, using the knees to lower the working weight, until the posture and technique are correct, only then is it safe to enhance this exercise or increase your working weight.


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