Foam rollers are everywhere. It’s simply impossible to walk onto the gym floor without seeing at least one or two resting around the place. They’re the modern bodybuilders best friend and for good reason too.
There are so many important benefits of foam rolling for bodybuilding. It’s pretty insane when you stop to think about it, considering all it takes is a spongy tube and bodyweight.
Okay, maybe it takes a little bit of grit and perseverance too. It’s sometimes a game of no pain, no gain (within reason, bro).
Guys and girls who regularly foam roll can reap the rewards of:
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Increased range of motion
- Better soft muscle tissue quality
- Faster recovery
- Greater flexibility
- Improved posture
- Less tightness
All of a sudden the dude you spotted rolling his lats on the floor last week doesn’t seem so dumb. It’s cool, we didn’t understand the whole craziness around it either. That’s why we’re here though, to tell you exactly why you should roll to be swole.
How does it work?
But here’s the question. Just how can something that costs the fraction of a single masseuse session make such an impact? What’s the secret?
Well, as it turns out, there is no secret. Just think of the process as giving yourself a much needed deep tissue massage. Albeit with a cheap and convenient tool instead of your own hands and knuckles.
The technical jargon for this practice is self-myofascial release. Simply put, you’re releasing tension in the muscles by working on specific trigger points.
Trigger points are more commonly known as knots. Something you’ll have definitely heard of as target areas for sports massage therapist, or eye-wateringly felt.
Muscles should be able to contract and relax smoothly without any interference. However, after intense use in sports such as bodybuilding, they can fall victim to adhesions.
These suckers act like a sticky substance; reducing power, flexibility and causing localised pain. Rather than stretching and relaxing as normal, the muscle hits a physical bump in the road.
Tightness = Weakness
By pin-pointing these areas and tackling them with a foam roller we can convince the muscle to relax. The localized pressure gives our Golgi tendon organ the green light to tell it everything is okay, leaving the body part to return to its normal state.
Once a muscle is reset and returns back to normal function it can then be used optimally. A stiff and tight muscle is a weak muscle, which is downright unacceptable at SpotMeBro. So make sure you’re not letting the squad down with your tight ass traps.
Static and dynamic stretching is typically the most common go-to for tense and stiff bodybuilders. And whilst this tried and tested method will get you feeling looser than your girlfriends hips after too many margaritas; it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Stretching like it’s still the 80s can actually reduce the amount of force the affected muscle can produce. Guess what that means, bro? You won’t be able to exert the true power potential an insanely stacked dude like yourself deserves.
Roll into it – why you should foam roll during any warm up
So, if you’re starting out by throwing a stretching routine into your warm up, you might want to change things up. It’s time to ditch the old school and really flex into the 21st century.
Choose to implement foam rolling into your pre-lifting ritual. Don’t worry, you’ll still feel the relaxed benefits of your favorite stretches. However, instead of falling victim to a decrease in power, you’ll actually be able to enjoy the opposite.
This will be because of your newfound foam induced:
- Localized muscle activation
- Improved power potential
- Improved range of motion
Three things proven to elevate the results of your iron game.
Localized Muscle Activation
Foam rolling promotes muscle activation, which can play an awesome role in levelling up your workouts.
By activating the muscle before hitting the iron you’ll be prepping your body for hard work.
It’s kind of like a physical hype up, so don’t underestimate its usefulness.
Firstly, you’ll be increasing the circulation of blood to the area. Something which’ll seriously come in handy when your quads are screaming for oxygen under a heavy load.
You’ll also be kick-starting the mechanoreceptors. This’ll ready the muscle to react quickly if any imbalances occur. Keeping you subconsciously prepared and reducing the risk of injury.
For bodybuilders this is all a pretty big deal. If a muscle group can’t be worked to it’s full potential, there’s a massive loss in maximized gains. So make sure to specifically give the bodyparts you plan to work a wake up call.
This might not seem like an issue right now. After all, you’ve been seeing results so far without ever touching a foam roller. But imagine those lost gains stacking up throughout the years. Scary ain’t it, bro.
Improved Power Potential
As a bodybuilder you know that every rep counts – so why skimp on better quality work?
If you fail to look after the knots plaguing your body, you’re doing your physique a serious injustice.
Like a racing car heading to the track with a the brakes stuck on, a tight muscle lacks it’s true potential power.
And as we mentioned before standard stretching just doesn’t cut it. We need to get to the real root of the problem, adhesions.
Self myofascial release combats these adhesions head on, allowing the muscle to move and react freely. Scientists have stated that even one minute alone of foam rolling could improve an athletes scores in a vertical jump test.
Therefore, a less restricted muscle, just like the engine of a racing car, is a more powerful one. As a bodybuilder, an increase in power can directly relate how much you can shift in the weight room and what tempos you can handle.
Increased Range of Motion
Any gym rat worth his weight in chalk knows the importance of decent range of motion (ROM). Simply put, the more safe and effective a movement can be the better.
An increased range of motion translates to more time under tension for a lifter. And what does that mean? More metabolic stress for the working muscle of course – getting us them God damn gains.
Serving time under tension is the ultimate goal for guys and girls looking to grow their physique. Nobody ever became a beast without literally putting in the hours under the bar.
It’s the accumulation of seconds under stress that creates tiny micro-tears in the muscle. Then with proper nutrition and recovery, these guys can grow back. Bigger, better, faster and stronger than before.
The racing car analogy
Imagine our racing car again. If we put pedal to the metal on a 100 metre track we wouldn’t reach breakneck speed. Fast yes, but not to the burly engines full potential.
Now imagine we have 100 kilometres stretch of wide open road. We could let that baby rip and eventually max her out. We simply have a lot more time to put the engine to work and make it scream. That engine, is your muscle.
Self myofascial release is proven to help increase ROM – fact. Want to know the best thing? It doesn’t take a 10 day foam rolling experience at a spa retreat to work either. How does as little as two minutes sound? Totally doable, right?
A study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Reasarch showed that might be all you need. As only 120 seconds of localized foam rolling increased participants ROM a significant 10%.
Foam rolling can help bodybuilders to recover better
After hard session of squat filled suspersets and bicep bulging matrix’s there’s some serious DOMS in the pipeline. If this sounds like something you can relate to, it’s time to keep on rolling bro.
This is because foam rolling is believed to reduce muscle fatigue and DOMS when used post-exercise. Well, that’s according to a study published in the Journal Of Athletic Training anyway.
They state that a 20 minute session using a high-density roller straight after training may reduce muscle tenderness. The only catch is, these foam rolling bouts must be repeated every 24 hours. Which shouldn’t be too hard for a dedicated bro like yourself.
Grabbing a foam roller and setting down on the gym floor is something we all can do. Let’s be real, not everybody can afford to visit a sport massage therapist multiple times a week. Unless you’re an Olympic athlete or a millionaire, it just isn’t affordable.
By taking massaging matters into your own hands you can target trouble areas as routine. If you know those hamstrings always give you a kick, spend as long as you need there. Adding as little or as much pressure as you need without emptying your wallet.
How To Do It
By now you’re probably asking yourself; but how do I even do it? The key here is to listen to your body and use the time to explore areas that need attention.
There’s three main ways of informing where you should roll:
- Physical screening
- Planned preparation
Understandably things aren’t always so black and white. However, these overarching ideas are something every gym goer can understand and/or feel.
By performing unloaded mobility exercises like an air squat or a hip hinge we can listen in on our bodies. What muscle areas are tight? Where do we feel weak and off-balanced? Then, once we have found these problem areas, we can focus on improving their ROM.
Simply put – if you know what muscle groups you’ll be working then get to it, bro! Get that foam sucker out and activate away. Really get to grips with the muscles you’ll be working and prep the sh*t out of ’em.
If you’ve just thrashed the life out of those lats, treat them with kindness. Make sure to give them the attention to detail they deserve and really spend some time here post-workout. Also, it’s recommended you target large superficial muscle groups at this time.
Is something sore, tight or plain uncomfortable? Yeah, you guessed it – massage away. Obviously, if there is a real issue with pain you should always seek out the advice of a registered professional. However, for general gym goer wear and tear, try the foam roller.
All you need to get going is the ground, your own bodyweight and the foam roller itself. If you’re a newbie to rolling, grab a-hold of one of the softer, less aggressive types.
Once you have your roller to hand, it’s time to target the areas that need the attention. The trick is to move slowly and to go no faster than an inch per second. You need to create the necessary pressure and friction to work the knot, so seriously put in the time.
When you find the knot spend around 30 to 60 seconds there. Eventually the pain and discomfort should reduce and disappear during this time. However, if it doesn’t, loosen the area immediately around it and try again.
Bro, we all know you’re as tough as a barn nail. But it’s important to know the difference between discomfort and outright damaging pain.
If putting pressure on the spot feels like an 11+ on the pain scale and leaves you howling like a banshee, stop! Work on the surrounding area instead or opt for a softer roller.
Gravity is your friend so use it to your advantage. Manipulate your bodyweight using your hands, feet and the natural pull of the earth to apply less or more pressure.
When doing so, try to stay away from:
- The lower back
- Hitting the same spot until you’re overly sore
- Targeting the same area heavily two days in a row
The rest our friend is fair game.
A foam roller should be a staple in your gym bag, next to a sick set of headphones and a shaker bottle. The many benefits a little self myofascial release can give a man is well worth it’s minimal price-tag.
The whole process doesn’t need to take hours but could significantly boost your overall performance. If you’re serious about your physique, you need to grab one of these dudes.
There’s many guides online on specific techniques for different areas. Hell, we’ve even seen fully fledged tomes dedicated to the subject.
Just remember to snipe out the muscle groups you plan to use for a session and get selfish with your rolling time afterwards. As with anything, you only get out what you put in.