Click Here if you are unable to see the full content or animation of this eNewsletter  



     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2011 issue 8



Foam Rollers

I LOVE my foam roller... actually rollers.  I think I have 4 of them now, plus a few massage balls and a massage stick.  I have a few in my gym, one in my office, and one in the living room.  When it comes to massages, I like to really feel it and using the foam rollers allows me to adjust the pressure that I am working through my muscles as well as to have direct control for specifically targeting any trouble spots.

Foam rollers offer many of the same benefits as a sports massage, without the big price tag (most of mine were about $20 from the local sporting goods store).  The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.

Myofascial release is a body work technique in which a practitioner uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.

Myofascial release has also been shown to relieve various muscle and joint pains such as IT band syndrome and shin splints as well as improving flexibility and range of motion.  Bodybuilders also use myofascial release to help build bigger muscles.  Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body.  But your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth. Think for a moment about your muscles. You train them and feed them properly. They want to grow and will grow but something is holding them back. They have no room to grow!  Because fascia is so tough, it doesn't allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won't change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within.

If bodybuilding is your goal, you'll want to also stretch at the appropriate time.  The key to effective fascial stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full of blood.  When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.

Foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation you can target just about any muscle group.  Using a foam roller is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of practice and some body contortion. You start by finding a relatively open area with some floor space. Position your body with the area you want to work on top of the foam roller. Your body weight creates the pressure that massages and releases tight spots in the fascia. You control the pressure by applying more or less body weight on the foam roller and using your hands and feet to offset your weight as needed. It's helpful to try a variety of positions and see what works best for you.

Tips for Using a Foam Roller

  • Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release.
  • Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout.
  • Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.
  • Gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.
  • Move slowly and work from the center of the body out toward your extremities.
  • If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
  • Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
  • Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
  • Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.
  • Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes is all you need.
  • Rest a day between sessions when you start.
  • Drink plenty of water after a session, just as you would after a sports massage.
  • After a few weeks you can increase your session time and frequency if you choose.
  • Do not use a foam roller without your physician's approval if your have any heart or vascular illness or a chronic pain condition.



Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Slider Hamstrings


I decided to stick with the slider exercise for this month again.  Why?  Because they are so cheap and effective to carry around.  Like I said last month, a 4-pack of super-sliders will run you about $10, and you really only need 2 of them.  They are somewhat small and flat and certainly easy enough to throw in your suitcase for some of those tricky exercises.  Take this exercise in particular... It's difficult to really target your hamstrings without some type of equipment.  A simple pair of these furniture sliders provide you with a simple way to blast your hamstrings with this bodyweight exercise.


Target:  legs and butt (hamstrings, gluteus maximus)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Start on your back with your arms at your sides and your heels on a pair of furniture sliders.  Draw your heels towards your butt, but try to raise your butt up so that there is a straight line from your knees to your hips to your shoulders.  Maintain a steady pace up and down and try to limit the contact of your butt with the ground until you are finished with your desired repetitions.


First a bit of history... For centuries, church bells wore rung through the laborious act of pulling levers, which were strung through wheels and attached to the bells.  The largest bells weighed as much as three tons, requiring a team of qualified men possessing great strength, skill and coordination to achieve the proper sound.  In an effort to perfect their technique, bell-ringers would practice with silent, non-clapper bells called 'dumb-bells'.  Athletes then took advantage of the concept that bells came in different weights and sizes, ingeniously attaching two small bells to the ends of a wooden or metal bar (barbell) or utilizing the detached clapper as a tool to increase muscle size and strength.  As athletes began to create purpose-built equipment, the name 'dumbbell' remained.

I go through about a gallon of orange juice per week... anybody need any dumbbells?  I like the sturdy Tropicana one gallon jugs.  One of these jugs full of water is about 8 lbs.  Fill it with sand and it's about 13 lbs.  You can play around with different types of filler like nuts and bolts or any combination of different stuff.

There are countless exercises that you can perform with these jug-dumbbells.  Hammer curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, etc... Because of the position of the handle, you could even mess around with some of the standard kettlebell swings, windmills and related kettlebell exercises, providing that the angle of the handle doesn't put undo pressure on your wrists. 

ref:  Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for Women

Vacation Intervals

Obsessed?  Me?  Maybe a little... but hey, I've been overweight and out of shape in the past, and I DIDN'T LIKE IT ONE BIT!  So, with a week long vacation out in Reno, NV... you know I had to do something!  So I figured I'd take up some space in my newsletter this month and let you know about the workout that I put together with limited resources available.

I can't always tell if I'm going to have access to a bike, treadmill, elliptical or even a decent place to run.  I also don't want to be too fanatical about it, so I try to limit the amount of time that I'm spending while still accomplishing my main goals.  So for total body resistance training, while still getting my cardio in I typically opt for a mixed interval circuit to get the job done.  Although I'm a big fan of stair-intervals, I can't always count on having access to a sturdy set unless I'm staying in a hotel.  For this reason I'll pack my trusty jump rope in my bag. 

So for a solid 30 minute cardio interval circuit, I'll hit the rope for a minute, do a burpee pyramid, then 30 seconds rest, another minute on the rope, pushups, 30 seconds rest, rope, split squats, rest, rope, crunches, rest, rope, inverted rows, rest, etc... This kind of interval can certainly crank up your heartrate, so make sure that you choose adequate rest periods, exercises, and interval durations that work for you.  When choosing your exercises make sure that you have a plan for the week.  It's best to have 48 hours between the training of each muscle group.  If you do the circuit every day, you can split upper body and lower body on different days.  For every other day, you can mix in all body parts in one circuit.

I have to tell you, although I try to be good with my food choices, I'm no saint :)  Vacation food and drink is tough to resist and I know in advance that I'm going to indulge.  No reason to stop burning calories at a point when you're consuming all the junk!  You've worked too hard to make a difference to take a few steps back! 

It's Go Time!

Oh man... is it really August already?  The final hoorah of the summer?  If you kept busy this summer, I'm sure that you're as surprised as me.  But hey, it's not over yet.  Get up, get out, and do something! 

I don't feel too bad about my summer so far.  I've done 2 5K mud runs, have another one in October, and my annual MS bike ride at the end of September.  The weekend Warrior Workout Club has had a successful following too.  I'm good with that, although I'd do more if I had the time!  How about you?  There's still time... make a mark on your summer!  Guaranteed you can find something that fits your fitness level... or better yet, something that gives you a reason to strive for a certain fitness level!  There are plenty of charity walk/runs, bike rides, triathlons, whatever.  Find one that works for you and go do it... and bring a few friends and/or family members... the good thing about fitness is that it can be contagious J Have a great rest of the summer folks!

For prior issues of this eNewsletter, to subscribe, or unsubscribe, please visit the following link -->

Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"The only one thing I can change is myself, but sometimes that makes all of the difference."

youtube of the month --> foam roller exercises
A collection of foam roller stretches for injury prevention and rehab. | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




Get Toned!   Get Fit!   Lose Weight!   Feel Great!


TODAY! Fitness, LLC. , Bear, Delaware