The question: “I keep hearing about foam rollers. Why are they so great?”

The expert: Josh Feldman, a certified personal trainer and fitness manager at Crunch Fitness in New York City

The answer: It’s not so much the foam rollers themselves that are so great. It’s the fact that using them loosens up all of your muscles so theother exercises you do are more effective as a result. “Most of my clients come into the gym, sign in, and go directly to the weight room, cardio machines, or group fitness classes, and skip the most important step—foam rolling,” says Feldman. “The problem is that if you don’t foam roll first, your muscles are likely too tight when you start your workout, which means you can’t get deep enough into whatever you’re doing, and you don’t get the best results,” he continues.

Now, there are tons of ways you can use a foam roller effectively. But Feldman says the top three areas most people have to foam roll are your IT bands (basically, anywhere on the outside of your leg from your knee up), your glutes, and your quads. That’s because these areas are usually the tightest, either from walking in heels, running a lot, or simply not stretching.

 Oh, and get this: Loosening up these muscles in particular is also the key to … wait for it … the perfect butt. “When your IT band, calves and glutes are too tight, you can’t squat deep enough to really tone your butt. But when you use a foam roller to loosen those muscles, you can squat much deeper, and it’s those deep squats that truly work and tone your butt,” Feldman continues. Um, need we say more?

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