Foam Roller Exercises and Recovery Stretches
Add the foam roller to your fat-loss arsenal and help your muscles recover post-workout with these soft-tissue massage techniques
If there’s one piece of training kit to splash out on, it’s a foam roller. Without good mobility, your efforts to get stronger, build muscle or even sit comfortably at your desk will be futile.
This simple tube, when used right, can soothe tight muscles before, during or after a session. It can also serve as a multifaceted prop – a med ball, abs wheel and fitness step rolled into one – to add an extra challenge to a bodyweight circuit.
This fat-loss workout combines both to get your internal calorie furnace firing, stretch muscles before they start to tighten and provide emergency massage therapy to jump-start the recovery process. The best part? No pain, all gain. “You should be out of your comfort zone, especially when you’re looking to burn unwanted calories from your midriff, but not writhing in agony,” says trainer Fred Westcott (interfyt.com), who created this plan.
How these Foam Roller Exercises Work
The moves in this workout are split into pairs. “The routine combines explosive, full-body moves with core-targeted technical exercises, and finishes with mobility-enhancing stretches,” says Westcott. The result: a comprehensive session that’ll torch calories, strengthen your abs and leave you feeling fresh by the time your heart rate returns to normal.
Do 20 reps for the power and core moves 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B with no rest between each. Repeat three to five times depending on your training experience and energy levels, resting 60 seconds between each round. Finish with 20 seconds each of the stretches 3A and 3B, again repeating between three and five times but with no rest.
1A Jump-over burpee press-up
Jump and rotate in the air to land facing the roller. Put your hands on the tube and drop into a press-up. Drive back up and leap over to the other side.
1B Russian twist
Hold the roller with straight arms and lift your legs and back off the floor to balance on your bum. Keeping your abs tensed, twist slowly from side to side.
2A Mountain climbers
With your hands on the roller, jump your feet forward alternately as fast as you can. Keep your hips low to maintain a straight back.
2B Archer press-up
In the top of a press-up with one hand on the tube, bend the other arm to lower your body while the arm on the roller extends to your side. Then push back up. Clench your glutes to keep your core locked out.
Kneel with your forearms on the tube. Keep your core rock-solid as you slowly extend forwards so the roller comes towards you. Reverse to the start. Too easy? Do walking roll-outs from standing.
3B Yoga cat stretch
With the roller under your thighs, press down with your hands to pull your body forwards and gently arch your back. Slowly reverse to the beginning. Breathe in as you arch to increase the stretch.