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Foam Training – Innovative Training Solutions – Article and Video

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You’ve probably heard of using foam in the weightroom.  Previously, you might have only thought of using it for resting your knee on, while your stretching your hip flexors.

Well, a recent talk with Mike Hanley of HanleyStrength.com changed that.

He told me that he had his clients marching on thick foam to help with their knee and hip problems.  He said Louie Simmons had told him about it.   How he has been using it for activation and rehab purposes.

It is also well recognized in the powerlifting community that foam can also be used on the box squat, and we will talk about this too, later in this article.

Now, this of course got me thinking about other uses of foam.  I ordered a few blocks and started incorporating it into my program and the program of my clients.

Let’s look at a few different ways that you can incorporate foam into the weightroom.

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Quick Studies:

As you learned in the Chaos Manual:

Unstable foam surface = good rehab

Unstable foam surface = not good for power development

Studies from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) confirm my publication:

“Instability resistance exercises induce high muscle activation of postural limb and trunk muscles. The increased activation has been attributed to the increased stabilization functions.  Instability resistance training with its high muscle activation and lower external stress on joints could also be beneficial for general musculoskeletal health and certain types of rehabilitation.”

“Unstable conditions can lead to decreased force and power output, decreased range of motion and velocity. Furthermore ground based weight training exercises such as squats and dead lifts can provide equal or greater trunk activation than using instability devices. Another study has also reported that highly trained individuals do not experience greater trunk activation when performing exercises under light or moderately unstable conditions.”

“Since many of the benefits of instability devices can be achieved with high resistance involving ground based free weights, advanced resistance trained individuals may not need to emphasize this type of training in their strength and power training programs.”

“The benefits of instability resistance training may be more pronounced for those individuals pursuing primarily general health and rehabilitation benefits and not participating in training with free weights involving high loads.”

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1.  Hand Walking

Taking the concept of activating the lower body with the foam, we can also activate the upper body.

Benefits of Hand Walking on Foam:

  • Activate the traps, rhomboids, serratus anterior, pectorals, shoulders
  • Vibrational training – reflexive/reactive motor unit activation, contraction and recruitment
  • Stability of the shoulder
  • Wrist, finger mobility

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2.  Marching

By marching on the foam, you will be activating and rehabbing the musculature of the lower body.

Benefits of Marching on Foam:

  • Activate the quads, gastrocs, soleus
  • Vibrational training – reflexive/reactive motor unit activation, contraction and recruitment
  • Stability of the knee
  • Mobility of the ankles and toes

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3.  Box Squat

Foam can be inserted on top of a conventional box squat box or platform.

Benefits of Foam on a Box Squat:

  • Breaks the eccentric / concentric chain
  • Enforces the need to contract harder and dynamically accelerate off the box and out of the hole
  • Helps novice lifters progress as they learn how to utilize box appropriately and not collapse onto the box

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4.  Ab Rolling on Foam

Foam can be placed under the support base for ab rolling.

Benefits of Ab Rolling on Foam:

  • Activate the rectus abdominus, hip flexors, internal / external obliques
  • Vibrational training – reflexive/reactive motor unit activation, contraction and recruitment

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5.  Bulgarian Split Squats on Foam

Foam can be placed under the lead leg while performing Bulgarian split squats.

Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squats on Foam:

  • Activate the quads, glutes, hamstrings
  • Stability of the knee
  • Mobility of the hips, ankles and toes
  • Vibrational training – reflexive/reactive motor unit activation, contraction and recruitment

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12 Responses to “Foam Training – Innovative Training Solutions – Article and Video”

  1. Sarah Rippel Says:

    Great stuff! I especially like the “foam marching” b/c to me, it’s a bit similar to walking in sand. Great for the ankles and lower leg! I appreciate what you guys do – straightforward, no BS, effective training info. Keep it up!

  2. steven Says:

    Great stuff!! I enjoy and appreciate the no BS approach about training. Keep up the awesome work.

  3. Joe Hashey Says:

    Good information, I really strust it.

    Foam is a quality training tool, thanks for the article.

  4. Joe Mugovero Says:

    I have no imagination and look to Smitty for new ideas that could be used for advancement

  5. jamie Says:

    thanks for the article

    is their a density rating or something like that for foam and if so any idea what would recommendation be?

    thanks

    jamie douse

  6. Bill Long Says:

    Great read as normal!

  7. Jim Smith Says:

    In fact, everyone look for an upcoming promotion for Eric’s thesis on Diesel, we are working out the details now.

  8. Jeff Sims Says:

    Jim,

    Great article. Just wondered where you got the foam at? I checked some craft stores, and the foam they had didn’t seem thick enough. My left knee has been hurting. I came across some stuff your wrote on elitefts about many times knee pain is actually immobile hips, ankles, or both. Sure enough, I started foam rolling and stretching and my knee pain is decreasing! So thanks for that! Looking to incorporate the marching as well. Keep up the fantastic site, Jim!

    Jeff

  9. Ted Winter Says:

    Smitty, great vid.

    One question. Where did u get the wall mounted plate racks?

  10. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Ted,
    Pretty sure those were just home-made by the gym owner bro. They are made out of really thick-gauge steel and attached to the cinder blocks with heavy bolts, if I remember correctly.
    Jedd

  11. How to Bench Press Says:

    […] for an upper body training session. Face pulls, pull-ups, tricep press downs, t-bar retractions and hand walking on foam are a great way to warm-up the upper […]

  12. David Says:

    where do you get that foam?

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