Mike Fitch - Flexed Roll Global Bodyweight Training
The Flexed Roll with Leg Swing is a solid foundation for many variations popular in different disciplines
The Flexed Roll is a great way to build a foundation for performing a solid roll, an incredibly useful maneuver that crosses many bodyweight disciplines. While creating the GBT and Animal Flow systems, I was inspired by many different disciplines like Parkour, Gymnastics and Break Dancing. As a student of these different avenues of self mastery, it was clear that many of the movements crossed over between all of the different styles and although they may have slightly different mechanics or have different names, the similarities were obvious. Bottom line, movement is movement and it’s ALL good!

In this week’s video tutorial, we’re focusing on the Flexed Roll, which is a great starting point for developing a solid roll. It also happens to be a great abdominal exercise since you have to stay in such a tight tucked position.

Variations Between Disciplines

In all of these disciplines, you’ll have some sort of “rolling” movement. Whether it be a summer sault in gymnastics, a dive roll in Parkour or an Akido roll in martial arts (which I admittedly do not have much experience with), the goal is pretty universal: Minimize your ground impact and disperse it by rolling through.

Not all rolls are created equal. In a summer sault, the roll is more of a sagittal movement where you’re rolling completely down the center of the spine. In martial arts or Parkour, the roll may have more of a rotary component, where the ground contact starts with one shoulder and moves across the back into the opposite hip.

Mechanics of a Flexed Roll

Mike Fitch Flexed Roll
Keeping the body flexed in a tight tuck throughout the movement is key.
However, no matter which type of roll you are using, the goal is still to stay as “flexed” as possible, allowing the body to travel across the floor like a well balanced wheel.

If at any point the spine begins to flatten out or extend, the roll will be interrupted and the force of the body will be localized at that particular area. We call it a “flat tire” and I can tell you from experience, it’s not a good time. So in the Flexed Roll, our focus is on transferring your contact up and down the spine while imagining yourself rolling from one vertebra to the next, allowing for a smooth transition.

Progressing the Flexed Roll

In the video we also cover another progression which is a Flexed Roll with a Leg Swing, as well as an intro using this as a transition movement:

Mike Fitch - Flexed Roll
Adding the Leg Swing changes your center of gravity and prepares you for more advanced progressions
Mike Fitch - Flexed roll
The Flexed Roll sets you up for progressions including Transitions

The leg swing ends in a position where you’re balancing on just one of your gluteal muscles. This shifts your center of gravity, which creates more of an oblique challenge. Not only does this add more complexity and coordination but it’s a perfect set up for transitioning out of the Flexed Roll (which we’ll cover in a future video).

These movements can be used by themselves as a challenging core exercise or as a transfer from one movement to the next. So whether you’re using the Flexed roll as an abdominal exercise or as a skill practice for more complex moves, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed!

Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

Join the Conversation


  1. Mike,
    Great video and tutorial. I love the site and plan on incorporating as much of your exercises into my routine as possible. I injured my back years ago and with the bone spurs and bulging disc I have to admit I have enjoyed using your techniques to build strength and flexibility without the pain of weights. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hey Mr. Fitch,
    I just want to start by saying how greatly appreciated all of the hard work and time you put into this site is appreciated! I am sure that you are extremely busy and that you take time out of your schedule to provide killer resources for bodyweight wannabes or master alike is a real blessing to guys like me. If it hadn’t been for you and your site I would still be one of “those” athletes only defined by his max bench press. I have gone through every video on your site a dozen times each and visited all the websites in the resource section, but I was wondering if you could recommend some resources for a beginning bodyweight athlete, things such as books or video programs, I am still in high school so I don’t have a ton to spend but any suggestions would be very welcome especially things that have actual workouts and progressions. Thanks a ton and good luck with the new DVD!

  3. Very cool. Nice feature here Mike! In Aikido we did practice a lot of rolling and did some exercises very similar to what you are demonstrating here. We would do forward rolls and backward rolls. We would even jump over stacks of mats and land into the rolls. Good times!

    In fact, these forward rolls even helped save a friend of mine who flew over the handlebars of his motorcycle and went into several large Aikido rolls to disperse the forward momentum/energy. They even have less dramatic, yet very practical purposes such as if one tripped or was being pushed forward from behind…. just go into a roll and you’re right back on your feet.

    Looking forward to the follow ups!

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