Rolling away time…and results.

by Ross Curtis


I’ve been a personal trainer here in New York City for over 3 years now, and even when I was a strength and conditioning coach back in Iowa; I would see the same things. On the gym floor at least…there were a lot less Louis Vuitton bags back in Iowa!

With the influx of marketing with foam rolling and other soft tissues tools it makes sense that more and more people think they derive a great benefit out of it. Whether you’re a trainer working with a client or someone looking for a trainer in New York City or elsewhere one of the biggest constraints in getting results is TIME.

Whether the goal of training is to gain muscle, lose fat, or prevent injury the most important factor to consider is what can you accomplish over 2-5 hours of exercise per week.

The trend with personal trainers due to the increased use of foam rolling and soft tissue tools is to spend 15-20 minutes “warming-up” using these tools during a session. Many people think this is beneficial to their goal and in reality, likely isn’t causing them any harm…and just as likely not putting them any closer to achieving their goals either. (For the matter, foam rolling will never, ever, ever, ever actually remodel your body’s tissues.)

Taking up 33% of a session by doing soft tissue work might feel good but it’s negatively impacting the ability to reach your goals. Because no matter what your goal is you must cause a heavy enough stimulus to disrupt homeostasis within the body of the clients to force a positive adaptation. (I guess if your goal is to turn yourself into a tender piece of veal foamrollign may work!)

So trainers: what should you really be doing with your clients? (Clients of personal trainers, read this too.)

Make sure what you are doing has a purpose and relates back to what your client’s goals are. It is okay to warm up and foam roll, but the amount of time dedicated to it should really only take up 5-10% of a session not a third. We are talking less than 10 minutes, period. Not every client will have the same programming considerations and goals, but here is an example of a weight loss (fat loss) client of mine who has actually gotten considerably strong as well and pushes it on big compound lifts:

  • Crocodile Breathing x 10 breaths
  • Targeted glute med, piriformis and TFL soft tissue work x 2 mins/side
  • 90/90 Hip positional work, actively working on internal and external rotation x 2 mins/side
  • Thoracic extension work x 1min
  • Bird Dog x 5/side

Trainees, is your warm-up efficient, targeted, and fast like the above? Make sure whether you are working with a trainer, or working out by yourself, that you have your end-goal in mind and that what you are doing makes sense. If you are currently working with a trainer and they can’t answer the question of why they are having you do something, then chances are they aren’t doing the right things for YOU. The same is true for whatever you choose to do in a gym; something that might be great for someone else, or a mobility drill you found on Instagram, may do you more harm than good of you don’t know the what or why of your body.

The point is: Don’t waste your time with nonsense that isn’t going to help you achieve your goal. That will only lead to inevitable frustration and despair — whether you are the client or the personal trainer. Do everything with intent…on and off the gym floor!

Ross Curtis

New York, NY

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