Random Thoughts: Self-Myofascial Release and Cardio

I have a few ostensibly random thoughts to share, so rather than break it up into separate posts, I decided a Random Thoughts post was in order.

Bear with me…

1. More self-myofascial release for the pecs and biceps

I made a post yesterday (read it here) showing four simple drills to loosen up the pecs and shoulders. After I posted, Thomas Deebel, a great chiropractor and super strong lifter in his own right, commented that rolling the biceps with a lacrosse ball on a glute-ham raise (GHR) bench works really well too.

I had never really even thought to roll the biceps, and I had never thought to use the GHR bench for lacrosse ball work, so today I gave it a shot and it was freakin’ awesome. I don’t mean awesome in a feel-good massage sort of way, I mean it more of “ouch this hurts, but it hurts so good” kind of way. It looks like this.

I think the reason it probably hurt so much is because my guns are so big…or not.

Anyway, you have to be careful rolling the biceps, so start very slowly and if you feel any tingling or sharp pain, back off immediately. It should be a mild pressure; nothing too crazy. The nice thing about using the GHR bench is that since it’s padded, it’s easier to modulate the intensity.

It got me thinking though, and I tried rolling the pecs in much the same way that I showed yesterday using a wall, but I liked the GHR bench better because it was easier to hold the ball in position, and I could adjust the pressure more easily. Like this:

If you don’t have a GHR bench, try to find a table at about mid-chest level and you should be fine.

Besides the obvious point about using the GHR bench for self-myofascial release, I just want to mention that I think it’s awesome how we can share ideas so freely via the comments, and I hope that you all continue to do so because I’m always down to learn new stuff.

2. Great resource for cardio

Yesterday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to come home and find an advanced copy of Martin Rooney’s new book Warrior Cardio in my mailbox.

It was a beautiful day out (love this weather we’re having in the Northeast!) so I decided to go outside and start reading it. I should’ve known better because once I start reading something good, it’s hard for me to put it down. Long story short, I ended up reading until it got dark, then coming in and staying up late to finish it.

I used to hate doing cardio and all I could think about while I was reading Martin’s book was that I wish it had been around six years or so. I went through a phase where I didn’t do any cardio whatsoever. I used the excuse that I was trying to put on weight, but in reality, I skipped it because I didn’t like doing it. In hindsight, I didn’t like it because I had the wrong conception of what cardio should be. I was working out in a commercial gym and got sucked into what was going on around me and thought of cardio as the stationary bike, elliptical, and treadmill. Screw that.

Warrior Cardio gives a ton of different cardio routines to fit all sorts of equipment restrictions, schedules, ability levels, etc. There’s really something for everyone, and in reality, there’s probably more like 8-10 options for everyone.

What I also like about the book is that it lays out a set of guidelines to follow, which Martin calls “commandments.” I lot of the cardio routines I see seem very random and haphazard, so the commandments are a nice way to provide some structure and give a logical progressive system to the work you’re doing. It also addresses the mental side of training, which is something I think is extremely important and probably isn’t talked about as much as it should be. Without the proper mind frame, the X’s and O’s of training are all water under the bridge.

Along with the routines, there’s a lot of information about the science behind the cardiovascular system, how to warm up properly, and a great nutrition chapter from Dr. John Berardi about how to eat properly for health and optimal body composition.

The book doesn’t come out until April 10th but you can pre-order it now on Amazon
(I was shocked to see it’s only 19 bucks) and I recommend you do so. For that price, it’s a steal.

3. What’s the ideal time to do stretching and self-myofascial release?

This is a question I get a lot, and to be honest, I’m not really sure. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions, but I don’t think anyone really knows for certain what the ideal is for soft tissue techniques. Some coaches and practitioners suggest doing it preworkout, some suggest doing it postworkout, and some suggest doing it at an entirely different time.

I think there’s good arguments for all of the above, and at the end of the day, you’ll need to do some experimenting and find what works best for you.

I can tell you what I like and don’t and like. For me, it really depends on the type of soft tissue work I’m doing.

Foam rolling– I like foam rolling preworkout on my lats, upper back, quads, and hip rotators.

Here’s the upper body routine I use.

I’ll go through pretty quickly, partly to warm up, but partly for mental reasons too. Foam rolling is a chance to switch my mind away from whatever I was thinking about before the gym and start focusing on my workout.

Sometimes it’s nice to do some foam rolling after the workout as well as a way to wind down, but to be honest, I usually end up skipping it when I’m tired, which is another reason it’s important that I do it preworkout because something it better than nothing.

Static Stretching- I like static stretching preworkout, postworkout, before bed, and on off days. It’s all good.

Dynamic Stretching- Pretty much only preworkout.

More aggressive soft tissue techniques (lacrosse ball, manual therapy, etc.)- I prefer to do this a little bit preworkout, but if I’m really going to dig in, I like doing it on off days. I find when it’s too aggressive it can impact my workouts, and if possible, I’d like to separate it a bit.

That’s just me. When do you like to do it? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, as well as your rationale for why you like what you like.

That’s all for my randomness today. Hope everyone’s having a good week.