The Foam Roller Fitness Workout for Maximum Strength & Flexibility (2021 Guide)

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For everyone from the active and agile to the sedentary and tense, rollers and other exercise tools can counteract the negative effect of an eight-hour day sitting down, a double shift standing on your feet, or 10 miles logged as you train.

Using a foam roller increases flexibility promotes healing after injury, improves the alignment of your spine, and heightens your body awareness.

Foam Roller Workout for max strength

What is a foam roller?

A foam roller, also known as a massage chair, is usually made of a dense foam material (polyurethane) with a waffle pattern of dimpled foam stacked on top. It can be used for multiple reasons, such as reducing soreness, increasing flexibility, and eliminating painful muscle knots in those areas where they are most prone to strain. 

What is a Foam Roller

Types of Foam Roller

  • Circular roller 

This is the most common type of roller, available in all sorts of lengths and densities. It’s used for most of the exercises in this book. 

  • Half roller 

The half roller doesn’t actually roll, but it’s more stable than a circular roller and is a useful prop to stand on in many exercises. 

  • Textured roller 

This advanced foam roller uses texture to provide points of increased pressure on your soft tissue. The extra mechanical stress elicits extra release.


Both static stretching and foam rolling increases your range of movement. However, holding a static stretch too long and too often can reduce your muscles’ ability to contract (shorten). On the other hand, foam rolling increases the flexibility of your muscles while maintaining their healthy ability to lengthen (stretch) and contract.

Related: Best Gadgets for Healthy Living

Foam roller Workout Benefits

A foam roller can also act as a prop for strength training exercises. Exercising with a roller in this way makes your movement more efficient and helps to improve your posture and balance.

Build Core Strength

The foam roller introduces instability to your exercises, which will intensify the engagement of your core muscles.

Working out on a stable surface can eventually become too easy; by adding a foam roller, the instability requires you to engage your joints and deeper-lying muscles to help you maintain your balance.

After mastering certain exercises on a stable surface, add a roller so that holding the position is more challenging. Keep your lower back static and maintain a neutral spine so that your exercises are safe and effective.

Optimize Body Awareness

Whether you’re minimally active or you’re athletic and agile, using a roller improves body awareness, also called proprioception.

Self-myofascial release exercises awaken and sharpen sensory input, and core-strengthening exercises require your joints and muscles to act harmoniously.

Together, both types of exercise develop the signals in your muscles that provide information to your brain, asking your body to move in a particular way. You’ll learn improved spatial awareness and naturally act with balance and improved reaction time.

Improve Posture and Alignment

Sitting in a car or at a desk all day, looking down at a mobile phone screen, and reaching for a keyboard all deteriorate a natural and healthy posture.

Foam rolling regularly will restore flexibility to your soft tissues so that your muscle groups lengthen and contract together more efficiently.

Balanced and supple muscles allow your body to achieve a healthy posture and your bones to rest in pain-free alignment.

You can also use the roller as a “response” prop to strengthen weaker muscles and lock in good posture by placing the roller just beside your moving muscles during certain exercises.

If the roller falls or moves excessively, you can gauge whether stronger muscles are compensating for any weaker muscles. This response method teaches your body to work more optimally, which aligns the spine and stabilizes your posture.

Foam Roller for Workout out Lower Back

When your hips are immobile or tight, the lower back compensates, causing knots and poor alignment. Perform this programme to activate your hip muscles, massage the related muscles, and relieve lower back discomfort.

What You Need for Foam Roller Lower Back Workout:

  • Foam roller 
  • Massage ball 
  • Yoga mat

What to do:

  • Do the exercises in order. 
  • Spend 30 to 45 seconds on each exercise. 
  • Monitor your pain level and adjust the pressure accordingly. 
  • Focus pressure on your soft tissue and avoid rolling bones.
SL NO.ExercisesTools
1Hip Flexor ReleaseFoam roller
2Hamstrings ReleaseFoam roller
3Spine RestorationFoam roller
4Lower Back ReleaseFoam roller
5Target Lower Back ReleaseMassage ball 
6Spine LengtheningFoam roller
7Bird Dog ReachFoam roller
Foam Roller for Workout out Lower Back
foam roller lower back

Foam Roller Pre Workout

To provide a dynamic warm-up for your muscles, a routine should include as much foam rolling as possible in addition to challenging, active movements. Complete these exercises to loosen your muscles for an injury-free workout.

What you need for Foam Roller pre workout:

  • Foam roller 
  • Half roller 
  • Yoga mat

What to do:

  • Do the exercises in order. 
  • Spend 30 to 45 seconds on each exercise. 
  • Breathe deeply and relax your muscles. 
  • Maintain a moderate pace for exercises 5 to 8 to accelerate your circulation.
SL NO.ExercisesTools
1Gluteal Group ReleaseFoam roller
2Quadriceps ReleaseFoam roller
3Outer Thigh and Hip ReleaseFoam roller
4Spine RestorationFoam roller
5Straight-Leg RaiseFoam roller 
6Straight-Leg Gluteal BridgeFoam roller
7Roller RolloutFoam roller
8Overhead SquatFoam roller+ Half roller
Foam Roller Pre Workout
foam roller pre workout

How it helps:

Warming up gently increases your heart rate to loosen joints and increase the blood flow to muscles

Foam Roller Post Workout

After any kind of workout, your body needs time to slow the heart rate and maximize gains in the range of movement of the muscles. Do this programme to restore a comfortable breathing pattern and to ensure post-workout flexibility.

What you need for Foam Roller Post Workout:

  • Foam roller 
  • Yoga mat

What to do: 

  • Do the exercises in order. 
  • Spend 30 to 45 seconds on each exercise. 
  • Breathe deeply and relax your muscles. 
  • Repeat the program if your heart rate is still rapid after the first completion.
SL NO.ExercisesTools
1Roller WalkoutFoam roller
2Side-Lying Rib Cage RotationFoam roller
3Bird Dog ReachFoam roller
4Hip SwivelFoam roller
5Half-Kneeling Rib Cage RotationFoam roller 
Foam Roller Post Workout

Core Strength Workout with Foam Roller

Plank Progressions

Since crunches and sit-ups reinforce rounded posture, the plank is a great way to support an erect stance. This exercise outlines three progressions – advance your plank when you master the previous one with strength and perfect posture. 

This exercise targets the obliques, the abdomen, and the shoulder blade stabilizers. Strengthening these muscles makes the body more stable and efficient.

Roller Rollout

Lock in good posture throughout your day by doing the Roller rollout. This core-strengthening exercise produces a bigger contraction of the abdomen than a traditional sit-up, so it dramatically improves your body’s ability to remain in alignment. 

This exercise targets the core musculature and the latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles of the back. These influence shoulder position and spinal alignment.

Roller Walkout

This challenging core and shoulder exercise improves torso stability in many positions, such as standing upright and sitting. The Roller walkout translates to better posture and balance during exercise and daily activities by strengthening the core.

This exercise targets the obliques and abdominals of the core and improves their relationship with the hips during movement. It also strengthens the anterior shoulder.

Bird Dog Reach

Incorporating the foam roller with the Bird dog reach exercise improves your balance and tests your ability to distribute load across one hip and shoulder. It’s a great way to develop spine and hip control during one-leg-stance actions such as walking.

This exercise targets the abdominals, obliques, gluteals, and deltoids, which stabilize the pelvis and torso and improve movement efficiency.

Hip Swivel

For those with limited spine mobility or for rotational sport athletes, this core exercise addresses issues with the rotation of the pelvis and torso. Using the foam roller activates the hip adductors and challenges your core, integrating them for effective twisting.

This exercise targets the obliques of the outer abdomen and the hip adductors of the inner thigh. They support the rib cage and hips.

Sitting Rib Cage Rotation

If you sit for prolonged periods, you’ll benefit from this mobility enhancing exercise. A good range of movement in your thoracic spine limits excessive movement in the lower back. Using the roller to activate your adductors helps to stabilize the often painful area.

This exercise targets the thoracic spine, from the neck to the lower back, as well as the abdomen. These areas are responsible for bending and twisting the torso.

Half-Kneeling Core Rotation

To mimic everyday mechanical movements such as walking and running, the Half-kneeling core rotation dynamically incorporates the hips with torso rotation. By using a roller for feedback, it indicates whether hip tightness inhibits your rotational performance.

This exercise targets the core muscles, the gluteal group, and the hip adductor muscles. They help to rotate the torso from side to side while walking.

Side-Lying Rib Cage Rotation

The Side-lying ribcage rotation strengthens your ability to perform thoracic rotation (twisting of the upper and middle back) in relation to your inner thighs. It’s a good intermediate challenge if you find the Half-kneeling core rotation too difficult. 

This exercise targets the adductor muscle group of the inner thighs and the core muscles. These muscles control leverage for torso rotation.

Straight-Leg Raise

A great staple for any exercise routine, the Straight-leg raise emulates the mechanical movements of walking and running. The exercise integrates core strength with your ability to stabilize one hip while mobilizing the other, as you do in any single-leg stance.

This exercise coordinates the movement of the hip flexors, obliques, and abdomen. These are essential for walking.

How to Choose the Best Foam Roller

Foam rollers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and colours. Texture and density affect the intensity of your release, and the size and shape of a roller make it particularly suited for certain exercises.

You’ll want to select a roller that can meet a majority of your needs and goals. For basic massage and exercise when you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep it simple with a circular roller.

TIP: When choosing a roller, consider how to maximize mechanical stress on soft tissue without exceeding your pain tolerance. Try a smooth, 92cm (36in) roller to begin with.

Choosing the Right Roller

There is no one-size-fits-all foam roller. The best roller for you is one that’s comfortable, effective, and not too painful. If you can, test your roller before you buy it. Consider these factors: 

  • Shape: Choose a circular roller if you want to release large muscle groups or to perform most core and balance exercises. Use a half roller as an exercise prop if you want to modify exercises in which you’re not actually rolling the foam roller. 
  • Length and diameter: Consider that a longer roller is bulkier but stable and great for back exercises. A shorter roller is harder to control but more portable and best for leg exercises. Most are 46 or 92cm (18 or 36in) long. While they’re usually 15cm (6in) in diameter, a smaller diameter is great for aging or physical therapy patients. 
  • Material and density: Determine if your pain tolerance and desired level of release require a more or less dense roller. A standard roller uses high-density foam and provides a moderate release, while a plastic core roller (often hollow) provides a more intense release. 
  • Texture: Choose texture based on your level of muscle tension. A roller with bumps and ridges adds additional points of pressure to your soft tissue, which maximizes release. A smooth roller distributes pressure, so the massage is more gentle.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best foam rollers in 2021

LuxFit Foam Roller

best foam rollers

OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller

best foam rollers 2021

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

best foam rollers for core

Moji Foam Roller

best foam rollers for ab

Zyllion Vibrating Foam Roller

best vibrating foam rollers

Why use foam roller for workout?

The foam roller is a multi-purpose tool that can benefit just about anyone. Rollers are effective both as deep-tissue massagers and as props to build strength and bring your body into alignment.

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