Foam rollers are commonly used to massage away sports- and exercise-related stiffness and soreness. They also facilitate stretching tight muscles and joints, and they're surprisingly useful for performing in-home, outdoor, or intense weight-room workouts.
Below are two challenging workouts that use a foam roller to enhance upper- and lower-body and core strength, balance and endurance—key sports conditioning and everyday attributes.
Bonus: The foam roller exercises in these workouts can serve as a dynamic warm-up in conjunction with free-weight movements or as bodyweight-only training sessions. After completing each workout, use the foam roller as a post-exercise cooldown to stretch and massage those tense muscles!
- Perform the workouts on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
- Hydrate before, during and after workouts.
- Do an upper- and lower-body dynamic warm-up (Walking Lunges and Overhead Presses) and cooldown upper/lower-body stretches for greater range of motion and flexibility.
- Use caution! The foam roller can slide on a slippery or wet floor, so make sure it's placed on a stable surface such as carpeting, dry grass or turf.
- Sets/Reps: 2x10
- Rest: 30 seconds between sets and 60 seconds between exercises.
- Note: Some exercises involve supersets combined with short 30-second rests between movements, which optimize sports-enhancing endurance and mimic the brief rest periods between sports activity.
- Foam roller
- Exercise mat (optional)
- Water bottle
- Timer/Your Phone Timer (optional)
- Elevated Prone, Side and Supine Planks. With your feet on the foam roller, superset prone, side and supine Planks, holding each position for 30 seconds. Following a 30-second rest, do another superset.
- Bulgarian Split Squats. Place your left foot atop the roller to the rear. Keep your hands at your sides. Squat until your fingers touch the floor for 10 reps without rest. Repeat with your right foot on the roller. This exercise improves both lower-body strength and core stability.
- Single Leg Push-Ups. Place your hands atop the roller at shoulder-width. Perform 10 Push-Ups with your left foot off the ground, and continue non-stop with your right foot off the ground. Excellent all-in-one upper body/core-strengthening and balance-improving exercise.
- Roller Rows. After resting from your Single-Leg Push-Ups, remain in the push-up position with the roller parallel to your left side. Pick up the roller with your left hand and pull it close to your waist. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the right hand without resting.
- Walking Forward and Reverse Lunges with Overhead Presses. Hold the roller at the ends horizontally and extend your arms at chest level. Simultaneously raise the roller overhead while alternately lunging forward 10 times. Superset with 10 Reverse Walking Lunges and Overhead Presses.
- Roller Rollouts. With your knees on a mat and hands on the roller, roll it out, extending your arms as far as possible. Roll it back to start position 10 times. Another all-in-one core and upper-body-strengthening movement.
- Walking Side Lunges and Twists. Hold the roller horizontally at chest level with your arms extended. Simultaneously rotate your body to the right with the roller while lunging right. Bring your feet back together and continue 9 more times. Repeat without resting laterally lunging and rotating to the left. Strengthens upper and lower body and core muscles.
- Single-Leg Squats and Upright Rows. Hold the roller horizontally with both hands about shoulder-width apart at waist level. Bend your left knee and lift your right foot off the floor. Squat and simultaneously pull the roller up to chest level. Repeat 9 more times and continue Single-Leg Squats/Upright Rows non-stop with your right knee bent and your left foot off the floor. Great exercise for building upper- and lower-body size and strength and promoting balance.
- Squat Thrusts and Push-Ups. Assume a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width on the roller. Alternate Squat Thrusts and Push-Ups non-stop for 30 seconds. Promotes lower- and upper-body power, strength, size and endurance.
- Single-Leg Hip Raises. Assume a supinated position on the mat with your heels atop the roller and your hands at your sides. Raise your hips off the mat and raise your left heel a few inches off the roller. Hold for 30 seconds. Without resting, repeat with your right heel off the roller. The exercise strengthens hips and core muscles and enhances balance.