Rolling, Slamming, and Landmining

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VibraRoll

What is it?
A self-Myofascial release tool, the VibraRoll adds vibration to the function of a normal, medium-density foam roller. Use like an ordinary vibration-less roller or turn it on for the additional benefits of improved blood circulation, range of motion, and flexibility.

Theory and Background 
According to current fascial theory, everything under your skin—bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, internal organs—is tied together and supported by a three-dimensional framework of tough connective tissue known as the fascial system. Stress from an active lifestyle, over-training, or a surgical procedure can leave this system sore and tight. Foam rolling is one way to take the edge off this pain and restore what fitness and rehab professionals call “tissue quality.”

Research suggests that whole body vibration, which has gained popularity over the past decade, may safely override our body’s normal resistance to stretching. The VibraRoll seeks to put the benefits of traditional foam rolling and vibration training together in a compact package.  

Benefits
My first “test drive” was 48 hours after a heavy leg day of front squats and barbell box step-ups. The vibration was stronger than I expected, but quite comfortable for my quads, hamstrings, glutes, low back, and IT bands. It noticeably decreased the discomfort I usually experience in what are pretty tight and tender areas two days after a workout. Having used a Power Plate whole body vibration platform for rehab purposes in the past, I was familiar with the way vibration blunts the sensation of discomfort when stretching a muscle to its end range. The VibraRoll felt like a rolling version of the same vibration—but a bit less intense. 

Cost  
$70 at performbetter.com.

Conclusion 
Whether you buy the theory or not, the VibraRoll is more comfortable to use than a traditional, smooth foam roller. I would love to see a textured version or a version with adjustable frequency and intensity in the future. In the meantime, it’s a good addition to your self-care toolbox. Weighing in at almost six pounds, it’s important to note that it won’t travel well in a carry-on bag.  

Rating  – 4 out of 5

 

One Fit Wonder Heavy SlamBalls

What is it?  
You’ll see them at every gym where serious workouts go down: medicine balls with blown-out seams resulting from the most primal and fun move you can do with a med ball—overhead slams. One Fit Wonder SlamBalls from local equipment outfitter FringeSports can solve that problem. Unlike other med balls, the SlamBall promises to not lose its shape or crack under pressure—or, slams. 

Theory and Background 
The theory is simple. Find a training space with gravity in full effect, lift heavy object, drop, and repeat. Odd objects such as kegs, Atlas stones and sandbags are a major part of the programming at Travis County Strength, and the Slamball fit right in during a recent test workout. We requested the heaviest SlamBall that FringeSport had on hand and were greeted at the pickup spot with shiny, gray 40-pound, 60-pound, and 80-pound balls. (Rumor has it that 100- and 150-pound models will soon be available.)

Benefits 
Their texture provides a good grip, and at 10–14 inches in diameter (depending on weight), athletes of all sizes should be able to lift, throw, shoulder, and carry one. They are more comfortable on your shoulder than a sandbag or an Atlas stone. The 80–pound ball did try to “Jell-O” its way off when shouldering it until we learned to anticipate the slight shift between the denser core part of the ball and the shell—kind of fun actually. Our favorite workout combination was as follows: 

8:00 AMRAP 
(As Many Rounds As Possible)

8X—Slamball Shoulder and Squat (4L/4R)
8X—Slamball Sprawls
8X—Ground to Overhead Slam
8X—Hands-on-the-Ball Pushups
8X—Shoulder and Reverse Lunge (4L/4R)

Cost  
$40–$250 online, although discounted local pickup prices are available. 

Conclusion 
This is an affordable tool for any gym. It combines the best of an easy-to-grip med ball with the weight of an entry-level Atlas stone. The basic movements you’ll do with it, while challenging, are functional and easy to learn.

Rating  – 5 out of 5

Rogue Fitness Landmine

What is it?  
I bought my first Landmine (the Post variation) a couple years back and have been regularly mixing it into workouts since. Combined with an Olympic barbell and two 45–pound bumper plates as a base, it adds a half-dozen or more unique exercises to your workouts. Rogue Fitness claims it will “help the athlete build core rotational stability and peak power through a greater range of motion.”

Theory and Background 
Prior to the invention of the Landmine, muscle heads of years gone by would stuff a barbell into the corner of the room, straddle the bar, and—using a towel for a handle—do Bent Over Rows for big weight and big volume. The more adventurous might turn it around and do some incline pressing. This worked great until the bar wore a hole in the baseboard and the drywall behind it. After the Landmine is assembled, stack up some 45–pound plates or hook the rack-mounted models into your rack. Insert one end of an Olympic bar and add weight at the bar end closer to you. It’s a good idea to use a spring or locking collar to secure whatever load you choose. Metal plates (10 pounds and under) work best for some exercises while 15–25 pound rubber bumper plates are better for others.

Benefits 
The Landmine is great at challenging the core in unique ways. It provides a number of pressing movements with shoulder-friendly angles for individuals with limited range-of-motion overhead on one or both sides. My current favorite exercises are Stand-Up Presses, Power Clean & Press, and Bus-Drivers. The need for a barbell and additional equipment as a base makes it a better gym tool than a mobile tool.

Cost  
Depending on the model, prices range from $75–$165. 

Conclusion 
To paraphrase a familiar metaphor, you can teach an old barbell new tricks. This tool is a good addition to any gym that enables some unique and challenging presses, rows, and core-training variations you probably haven’t done before.

Rating  – 4 out of 5

 

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