Foam Rolling: We Know It's Good for Your Body, but Can It Help You Build Muscle?

There has been a lot of controversy over the foam roller since it started making appearances in gyms. Lots of body builders would side eye one and be like "nah, I'm good" claiming its uselessness. Even fitness experts and health & wellness professionals had their doubts upon its debut.

Now, most fitness professionals agree that foam rolling has many benefits and include the use of one in their own fitness practice, as well as their clients. Athletes use them before games, body builders use them before training, and a ton of people have them in their house to use after a cycle sesh or whenever their back is acting up. We're educated about the many benefits of foam rolling, including easing muscle pain or inflammation, increasing range of motion, and know it's "good" for our body, but how does this come into play when talking about building muscle? Because we could foam roll all day but unfortunately we're not gonna start magically seeing booty gains. Damn.

We all want to see progress in gym, but unfortunately people are impeding their progress with insufficient warmups and a lack of consistency. You are placing your body at a greater risk of injury when you don't warmup properly, which includes that foam roller you thought was "silly" or "unnecessary." This is why the first thing I do with my clients is get them to warm up on a cardio machine, which is then immediately followed by foam rolling.

So my goal is for you to understand the benefits of warming your body up (including foam rolling and myofascial release), prior to your training can accelerate your gym gains, while simultaneously preventing injury. Just like you need to cook raw meat before you eat it, you need to warmup before you workout.

Why do I need to warmup?

A proper warmup prepares your body for the stress of lifting weights, so think of it as one system that requires you to complete initial steps before moving on. If your muscles are warm and prepared, then they can generate more force and lift heavier weight. And as we know, moving more weight means more muscular hypertrophy (increase in muscle size).

I have noticed over the years in my career as a personal trainer that when asked if my client warmed up prior to their outdoor activity (skiing, cycling, hiking, etc.), they often report not warming up. And then I lecture them saying "haven't I taught you anything?!" Kidding, haha. But I do remind them the importance of warming up, even when they're not here with me working out in a gym. And of course warming up and foam rolling comes quite naturally when you're in a gym setting because the equipment is readily available for you to use and staring you down begging you to use it.

Coming back to what I mentioned earlier about how the biggest enemy of progress is lack of consistency and injuries - when you don’t warmup, you’re placing your body at a greater risk of injury. Why? Think of a rubber band that just came out of the freezer. The once pliable material is now rigid, inflexible and easily breakable. Your muscles work in the same way, so it is crucial that you warm up so you don't, quite literally, snap your muscle fibers.

This is the benefit of foam rolling. Prepping your muscles for activity (even on off days at home) can help keep you maintain an injury-free state. I'm not saying that if you foam roll you will never sustain an injury ever again, nor am I saying that if you don't foam roll you wont be able to push heavy weight around. What I am saying is this: there’s a reason athletes, body builders, and any fitness freak goes through such a rigorous pre-workout routine. It’s not to make them jump higher, run faster, throw further, it’s to prevent injury in a highly physically demanding situation where there’s lots of stress endured in your body.

So if you're uninterested in wanting to lift more effectively, efficiently (both of which will help you build muscle), and with a little extra insurance, you do you boo-boo, but that is definitely not a risk I personally want to take, or allow my clients to take. All it takes is 5 minutes.

If you train with me, you'll ensure a proper warmup, that includes foam rolling, and a highly effective (and tough!) 1 hour workout that will leave you feeling light, healthy, and strong. To inquire about my personal training sessions in a Vancouver gym near you, email me at

Chelsea Ellacott

'Commit to be Fit'