This is the fourth and final installment of a recent series of articles on fillers. So far, we’ve covered:
1. Why You Should Program Fillers for Your Clients
2. Squat Fillers You Can Do Between Sets
3. Bench Fillers You Can Do Between Sets
Today, we’ll cap things off with fillers for the deadlift.
Fillers are low-intensity exercises you perform in between sets to improve mobility, prevent injury, and correct imbalances.
With the deadlift being so demanding, it only makes sense to try and maximize your clients’ time between sets with fillers. They’ll recover faster and work to improve their deadlift with drills that target their individual needs.
Understanding what’s involved in the deadlift from a biomechanical standpoint will help you determine which fillers might be best for your clients.
1. Adductor Rockers
Different deadlift stances call for varying levels of adductor flexibility and hip mobility. If your client is pulling sumo, they’ll need a higher degree of external hip rotation as opposed to a conventional deadlift. With a wider stance comes greater demand for adductor length.
Regardless of the stance, the adductor rocker can be a great addition to your clients’ deadlift filler roster.
· Get on your left knee while holding a medium-sized kettlebell in a goblet position.
· Have your right leg up to your side and bent at 90 degrees.
· Keeping a proud chest, inhale through the stomach and exhale deeply as you shift your weight down to your right leg.
· Hold for 3-5 seconds (you should feel a stretch or pull in your adductor/inner thigh muscle).
· Gently rock back and inhale.
· Do 5 reps each side.
Bonus Note: Have your client face the wall when performing this drill (as shown below) to reinforce lateral movement along the frontal plane.
2. Rear Foot Elevated Hip Extension
Ah, good ol’ faithful. Not much here that you haven’t seen already, but simplicity works. ]Since deadlifts call for adequate hip mobility and quad flexibility, this one’s a gem.
· Get into a half kneeling stance with your left foot on the floor and your right foot elevated on the bench.
· Have your right knee directly below your hip (your thigh should be vertical/perpendicular to the floor).
· Get into a slight posterior pelvic tilt (think sad dog tucking its tail) and squeeze your right glute.
· Keeping your right glute engaged, extend your right hip forward until you feel a stretch (in your hip and/or quad).
· Hold for 30-60 sec then repeat on the left hip.
Bonus Note: A common mistake here is to hyperextend the lower back instead of achieving true hip extension. Coach your client to get into a slight posterior pelvic tilt and maintain glute engagement to direct the stretch to their hip flexor. This is a gamechanger.
3. Reverse Plank
Credit goes to Jim Smith of Diesel Strength and Conditioning for this gem.
You’ve seen the debacle of deadlifts in the gym. Someone pulling weight they have no business pulling and transforming into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle right before your eyes. Rounding forward at the shoulders and upper back is an all too common occurrence.
So instead of letting your client sit hunched over their phone between sets, have them do reverse planks.
Seldom does an exercise offer as much bang for your buck as the reverse plank. This exercise battles the ongoing effects of daily posture while reinforcing upper back engagement during the deadlift.
- Grab two benches and a Swiss ball.
- Lay on your back on the floor in between the benches with both feet up on the ball and your elbows on the benches.
- Drive your elbows down into the benches and extend your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Your body should be parallel to the floor.
- Maintain full-body tension and engage your upper back, hamstrings and glutes as much as possible.
- Hold for 20-30 second between deadlift sets.
Bonus Note: Progress to a single-leg variation for greater hamstring engagement. Hold for 10-15 sec each leg.
4. Swiss Ball Dead Bug
As with any barbell lift, intra abdominal strength and stability are needed in order to maximize strength potential. With your core’s primary role being to maintain spinal integrity, it’s a natural filler to pair with the deadlift.
Using the Swiss ball offers a couple of unique benefits during the dead bug:
1. It encourages your client to maintain abdominal pressure by pushing into the ball.
2. It teaches your client to keep the non-moving limbs static.
· Lay on your back with your arms straight up and your legs bent at 90 degrees.
· Have a Swiss ball in between your arms and legs.
· Keep your lower back flat against the floor with your ribs braced down.
· Extend your right arm and left leg toward the floor while exhaling.
· Slowly return back to your starting position while inhaling.
· Repeat for 3-5 reps each side.
Bonus Note: The slower the better. It should take you roughly 3-5 sec to straighten your leg and 3-5 sec to return it.
5. Straight Arm Pulldown
When deadlifting, the closer you are to the bar, the better. Your lats are one of the primary muscles of the upper back that keep the bar close to the body. The straight arm pulldown is a simple and super effective way to train your clients to keep their lats engaged while deadlifting.
· Loop a resistance band around a pull-up bar or something sturdy.
· Hold each end of the band with your arms straight and hinge forward slightly.
· Make sure there’s no slack in the band.
· Keeping your arms straight, pull the band down to your sides using your lats (think squeezing an orange under your armpits to make orange juice).
· Slowly bring your arms back to shoulder-height and repeat.
· Do 15-20 reps each set.
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