Sore, stiff, tight? We feel you. Take some time for self-massage. Used pre-workout, pre-stretching, or simply to start the day, foam rolling has serious benefits, including easing muscle soreness, correcting muscle imbalance, increasing range of motion, and preventing injury.
Some gyms have foam rollers, but it might be worth investing in your own. (They’re still way cheaper than a professional massage!) Rollers vary in size, firmness, and shape. Long rollers provide more area for stability and support, while shorter options are more versatile and convenient for travel. A soft foam provides a gentler massage than a high-density version. Some options include a grid-like design or a ridged surface, which helps target tough-to-relieve knots and trigger points.
Don’t be fooled by the expensive ones though unless you really want one. The generic rollers are just as good. You can get them in all kinds of firmness levels depending on need, body weight etc.
I would caution against direct rolling of the IT band; with the lack of elasticity in connective tissues, it can lead to a plastic strain response and subsequent damage. Franklyn-Miller summarized the article here.
For many lifters, the bench press is the “gold standard” for developing upper body strength, but its reputation invites a lot of ego-driven cluelessness around how to do it with good and safe technique. Its deceptive simplicity is where many new (and even veteran) lifters run into trouble, so let’s talk about how you can bench better and more safely.
For clarity’s sake, we’re talking about the barbell bench press (sans the balloons from the GIF above). When you watch someone bench, it looks like the exercise is all arms, chest, and the occasional loud, obnoxious grunts, but it’s actually a compound movement that also includes shoulders, traps, triceps, upper back, core, hips, and even legs to a certain degree.
Sadly, pulling a bench up to the power rack at a gym is a fantastic way to find out who the regular a-holes are at that gym. I’ve experienced more than one occasion where someone had a problem with me using a rack to bench, despite the fact the rack was clearly not in use. I don’t understand that mentality, some people just need to own the world.