Roll With it: Six Alternative Uses For Your Foam Roller
If you’ve ever used a foam roller before, then you know how beneficial it can be for relieving sore muscles, speeding up recovery and improving mobility. But did you know that there are several alternative uses for your foam roller? From creating a makeshift yoga block to training to increasing core stability, these six alternative uses for your foam roller will help you get the most bang for your buck out of your kit, as well as introducing some novel new hacks into your workout routine.
1. Split Squat Barbell Hack
If you struggle to find the right height for your back foot when performing Bulgarian split squats, you may find that the gaps between various benches and boxes are just too big, and that you need a little more fine tuning to get it just right. By placing a barbell in a squat rack and resting your back foot on the sleeve, you’re easily able to adjust the height of the bar up and down until you find the sweet spot. Slotting your foam roller over the sleeve won’t just add padding, but the circular shape will also conform to the natural curve between your foot and your leg, adding an additional level of comfort.
We’re not saying this hack is going to make split squats enjoyable, but it may just make them slightly more bearable.
2. Makeshift Yoga Block/ Support
When you’re endeavouring to increase your flexibility and mobility it can sometimes seem like even the most basic positions and stretches are (literally) out of reach. This is why yoga instructors and movement aficionados rely on ‘blocks’ to reduce the range motion in certain stretches, or provide additional levels of support in others.
Your foam roller can offer exactly the same support, but with its additional height (versus a traditional yoga block) when standing upright, you may even find it far more beneficial, especially in trickier positions. Add to this, that when laying down your foam roller does what it says on the tin and rolls, you’ve essentially got a yoga block that comfortably moves with you, helping you to gradually increase or decrease the depth or your stretches more fluidly.
3. ‘Saddle’ For Banded Assisted Movements.
Band assisted movements such as pull-ups and muscle-ups can often turn into an unintended contortion act. Trying to step into or onto a tight band whilst supporting your own bodyweight can often result in you either being folded up like a pretzel, or catching a band to the chin (or worse— your nether-regions). By passing your band through a foam roller before securing it to a bar above you, you’re able to effortlessly pull the foam roller between your legs, sitting on it like a saddle or swing.
Being supported closer to your centre of mass in this way is an enormous game changer in how you perform assisted lifts, as well as helping you to avoid your workout becoming a slapstick comedy act.
4. Nordic Curl Support
The Nordic Curl and its various regressions and variations are all incredible hamstring movements that go a long way towards building stronger, healthier legs, using just your bodyweight. More often than not though, setting up for what should ostensibly be a pretty simple movement can become overly complicated. Work around this by placing a barbell in a rack, just as we discussed in point number 1 above, placing your foam roller over one sleeve, and lowering the bar until it comfortably holds down your feet as you perform your curl.
Place small diameter plates on the other side of the bar to counterbalance your weight, or use straps to secure the barbell in the rack, stopping it from lifting.
5. Grip Trainer
Training your grip strength and forearm size doesn’t require any special equipment, in fact this is one area where the most low tech solutions often turn out to be the most effective.
Case in point- the foam roller deadlift.
Slip your roller over a barbell, bringing it to the centre, before loading your bar up with plates. Next perform either a sumo deadlift, with your hands gripping your foam roller, or stand sideways onto the bar and perform a suitcase deadlift, gripping the roller with just one hand.
If you want to take the challenge a bit further, see how far you can walk, holding the bar at the side of you body, then turn around and come back using the other hand.
Trust us, you won’t need to go heavy on this one to get a serious forearm burn.
6. Balance Trainer
If you’ve ever thought you’d like to take a crack at one of those surfboard style ‘balance trainers’, but don’t want to shell out the funds for what may just be 15 minutes of fun, then you’re in luck, because you can put your balance to the test using nothing but your foam roller and an old piece of wood.
If you’ve got a skateboard deck, so much the better, but any similarly sized (and suitably strong) piece of wood will do. Simply lay it centrally across the top of your foam roller, in a perpendicular fashion, hop on top, and you’ve got yourself a balance trainer.
Note: Whilst we’re quite happy to take the credit for any fun you have, we can’t be held responsible for what happens if you fall off…
The barbell is the quintessential tool of weight training- perhaps only superseded by the humble dumbbell- but unlike the dumbbell there are a lot of options when it comes to picking the right bar. Let us run you through some of our offerings, so you can make the right decision for your needs.