Friday, April 29, 2011

A foam roller workout just for you!

Ugh, the dentist. While I appreciate pearly whites as much as the next girl, I don't appreciate being poked and prodded by a hygienist. It's just not fun. My lips stretch and crack, my jaw feels like it will lock, and when they rinse that gritty mess of toothpaste off my teeth—those little itty bitty drops of water that land on my face irritate the bejeezus out of me. Ugh, the dentist. At least I walked away without the need for further attention. No cavities, what-what!

Anyways, the one good thing about yesterday's appointment? It put me in a part of town I don't usually venture into, which put me directly across the street from an artsy fartsy little coffee shop with free wireless and flowing Intelligentsia. I ordered up a cup of decaf with a splash of skim and hazelnut, plus a small and simple plate of veggies and hummus. 

I said to my coffee cup: "Go ahead, stain my clean teeth, you vicious little cup of coffee. We'll show that hygienist, you and me."

And so there I sat (without makeup)...

...typing away. Typing this post, actually. The post I've been promising you for what seems like forever. You know, the one that contains a foam roller workout. Sorry for the delay. My to-do list has been looking a bit like this lately:

Scattered and disorganized, page after colorfully chaotic page. I can't seem to get ahead. Nevermind that my Google Reader is well over 300 deep at this point. I think I'm a week behind. But I digress. A foam roller workout. So let's chat.

Many people assume that foam rollers are for stretching...for self-inflicted deep tissue massages. And while those people assume correctly, it is not the entire story. Foam rollers work wonders in terms of increased core strength and stability. And they can also take your workout to a different level by changing, albeit ever so slightly, some fairly common exercises that you're already doing. (Side note: I don't typically dig celery, but it appears to be an excellent transporter of hummus.)

I have put together the following (just for you), and it will require the use of one full-length roller. These are pretty standard pieces of almost every gym, and if you're working out in the privacy of your own home, they can be purchased rather cheaply. (Another side note: Holy avocado and hummus! I'm in love.) And so we begin.

A Foam-Rollin' Workout
1) SINGLE-LEG SQUATS: Clearly you won't be standing on the foam roller. Rather, I want you to try using it as a balance tool. So many of us fit freaks can probably do squats until tomorrow, which is why it proves to be important that we challenge our legs individually on occasion. So use the roller to keep yourself upright as you squat, squat and squat your little tushies to, tomorrow.

2) BRIDGES: Target your glutes and hamstrings exclusively with this move. Lie flat on the ground, place your hands by your sides, feet on top of the roller. Hold it steady as you push your hips toward th ceiling, contracting your glutes and hams the whole way through.

3A) PUSHUPS: Put your hands right on that roller and push your little heart up over and over again. Although it doesn't change the mechanics of the pushup, it creates an unstable surface which forces you to engage your core a bit more. (Can't do pushups? Click HERE.)

3B) CHEST FLYES: So if you really hate pushups, try chest flyes. Lie on the foam roller so that it follows the length of your spine with your head resting on one end for support. Feet together and on the floor, or if you're feeling really adventurous, lift one foot off the floor. Proceed to perform your chest flyes, engaging your core for more balance.

4) POSTERIOR ARM LIFTS: Lie face-down on the foam roller, with the roller following your spine. Rest your forehead on the foam roller. Relax, but take your arms out to the side. Create a fist, stick your thumb out and point it toward the ceiling. Contract your back muscles, bringing your shoulder blades together to ultimately lift your hands a few inches closer to the ceiling. This is a slow movement, so take your time to contract those shoulder/back muscles.

5) KNEE TUCKS: You might have done this one on an exercise ball. The concept translates to the foam roller. Lie on your stomach, hands under your shoulders, foam roller positioned just below your knee caps. Push up into pushup position, then tuck your knees into your chest. Repeat without losing that pushup position.

Not too tough, right? Enough to get you started. If you have access to a half roller, try adding in a few bicep curls and triceps presses while standing right on top of it. Don't try this with a full roller, as it might roll right out from under your feet which will...well, I'll let you imagine it. If you don't have a half roller, swapping in a BOSU or two balance pods will suffice it.

And with that, I must leave you. Clearly I have much to do. So happy it's Friday, so ready for the weekend. I'm going to yoga tomorrow, and I think the in-laws are coming down for a visit. That's about it for the weekend's agenda. How nice is a weekend with little to nothing to do?

Very nice, me thinks.

Question: Whatcha got going on this weekend? Anything fit-tastic planned?

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