Share this page
Pin It

August 14, 2013 | Fitnovatives Blog

5 Foam Rolling Exercises to Prep for a Dynamic Workout

A dynamic workout is characterized by high energy and vigorous activity, and you need to make sure you’re adequately warmed up before you get started. A warm-up typically involves three things: increased blood flow to the extremities (literally warming the tissues up because blood is warm), increased neural input to muscles and increased mental engagement to prepare for the levels of focus necessary in a dynamic warm-up. Done properly, warm-ups can actually be an engaging part of the workout instead of something you do because you feel like you have to.

The following five exercises provide a terrific warm-up for dynamic workouts, giving the hips, middle back, and shoulders more mobility, while offering the core musculature more stability.

  • Supine Snow Angel – 12-15 reps
  • Rolling Bridge – 10 reps
  • Shifting Plank – 12-15 reps
  • Supine Opposite Arm and Leg Extension (“Dead Bug”) – 10 reps each arm/leg combo
  • Push-up with Outer Thigh Roll – 8-10 reps with each leg on roller

The roller is used in two main ways in these exercises:

  • To provide a stability challenge, while also allowing greater mobility of the hips and shoulders
  • To provide moving pressure along the length of a muscle to increase hydration and loosen muscular adhesions

Supine Snow Angel

Supine Snow Angel

Supine Snow Angel

Roller Position: Parallel to torso
Body Position: Face up with roller along spine
With your knees bent and arms at sides with palms up, sweep your arms out to the side, finishing with them overhead (parallel to the floor because you are supine). If there is any discomfort in your shoulders during the movement, bend your elbows until you find a comfortable position. As you go through the reps, if it feels comfortable to do so, move your arms closer to the floor.

Rolling Bridge

Rolling Bridge

Roller Position: Perpendicular to torso
Body Position: Face up with roller under the shoulder blades
With your knees bent and arms crossed at your chest, push into the floor with your feet to straighten your knees, allowing the roller to move down your spine. You can do this slightly rolled to one side to perform the exercise on one side of the spinal erector muscles and then repeat on the other side.

Shifting Plank

Shifting Plank

Roller Position: Perpendicular to torso
Body Position: Face down with forearms on roller
While holding a prone plank position (for some great tips on how to do this, see the ACE video Plank School), move your elbows toward your feet until the roller is at your wrists. Reverse direction and move your elbows away from your feet until the roller is near your elbows. If you like, you can also supinate the hands. With the palms up, you will enjoy some additional massage from the roller on your forearm extensors.

Supine Opposite Arm and Leg Extension (Dead Bug)

Dead Bug

Roller Position: Parallel to torso
Body Position: Face up with roller along spine
The “dead bug” exercise is commonly used in physical therapy and core training. This variation introduces the roller for a subtle but powerful progression. With your knees bent, keep one foot flat on the floor and the opposite arm resting gently on the floor. The other knee and arm begin off the floor, with the arm and thigh perpendicular to the floor. Move that arm and leg away from each other, extending the hip, knee and shoulder to lower both limbs toward the floor. The main objective is to maintain lumbar position (stability) with movement of the hip and shoulder (mobility). There should be no change in the lumbar curve. The use of the roller increases the demands on the core musculature and also presents the opportunity for greater shoulder extension than what is possible when lying on the ground.

Push-up with Outer Thigh Roll

Push up with outer thigh roll

Roller Position: Perpendicular to torso
Body Position: Face down in push-up position with one outer thigh on roller
From a push-up position with the outer thigh on the roller just above the knee, lower the chest to the floor to perform a push-up. As you do this, the roller will travel up the thigh and should finish just below the hip as you get to the bottom of the push-up. The extra benefit of this exercise is that it increases the unlinking and rotational ability of your hips and shoulders because your hips are turned sideways, while your chest faces the floor.


With these exercises, there should be no long holds on any tender spots. That can be a helpful and appropriate part of a warm-up and recovery. However, for these exercises we want more motion to increase blood flow, while allowing the rolling pressure to reduce restrictions in muscles prior to asking them to perform at a high level.

By Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross

Jonathan’s “800 pounds of parents” inspired his fitness career as a two-time Personal Trainer of the Year Award-Winner (ACE and IDEA), fitness thought leader, and fitness/media expert for Discovery Fit & Health. His book, Abs Revealed, is a modern, intelligent approach to abdominal training. He is a Master Instructor for ACE, SPRI, Tabata Bootcamp, and formerly for TRX. His brain-based fitness training is transforming lives by transforming attitudes about fitness. A former astronomer, Jonathan used to study stellar bodies – now he builds them!

  • Filed Under:
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars  1 Comments & Ratings
  • Permalink: