You’re at the gym, your client finishes their first set of squats with five more to go, and…crickets. As far as training economy goes, small talk about the weather isn’t exactly optimal.
You know that adequate rest is a necessity, but what can you do between sets to maximize your clients’ time in the gym?
Fillers are low-intensity exercises you perform in between sets to improve mobility, prevent injury, and correct imbalances.
As Eric Cressey puts it, the name “filler” seems to imply a lack of importance. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that fillers foster an athlete’s ability to recover and perform at a higher level. They get more out of their training with less time spent in the gym.
Have you been sold yet? If not, here are six reasons to use fillers in your programs.
- FILLERS SLOW THINGS DOWN FOR THE GO-GETTERS
I have clients who are corporate executives. CEO’s, partners of large organizations, business owners. I also train clients who are lifetime athletes. Both demographics are high-achievers with ridiculously strong work ethics.
These people get after it in the gym, and if they’re not doing something, they feel like they’re wasting time. This can lead to them wanting to prematurely jump into a set without adequate rest, which 1) puts them at risk of injury while 2) not having enough energy reserves to lift optimally.
Fillers give your clients something productive to do in between sets. This way, they’ll feel like they’re accomplishing something (which they are) instead of twiddling their thumbs.
- FILLERS REDUCE WARM-UP TIME
Yeah, warming up is obviously important. But foam rolling for 30 minutes is overkill. Fillers make your warm-up part of the workout and allow your clients to get their “warm-up sets” in between their lifting.
The more frequently your clients perform mobility/corrective fillers, the less time they’ll eventually have to spend warming up to prepare for the workout.
- FILLERS MAXIMIZE YOUR CLIENTS’ TIME IN THE GYM
Echoing the last point, fillers maximize your clients’ time in the gym. They make every minute serve a purpose.
Your clients will get better results in a shorter amount of time, and it shows a level of professionalism on your part. Instead of watching paint dry between sets, every minute is accounted for in order to help your clients get better.
- FILLERS ADDRESS IMBALANCES
Lifting highlights your clients’ imbalances. Fillers address them. For example, if you notice your client is favouring their left glute during squats, throw in some single leg glute bridges on the right side between sets.
Vanilla? Yes. Effective? Also yes.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. See what needs work and get those extra reps in.
- FILLERS ACT AS CONDITIONING AND ACTIVE RECOVERY
Let’s say you have a client that is generally deconditioned. They do a 5-min treadmill walk and sweat profusely. This individual clearly doesn’t need excessive HIIT or fancy go-go gadgets to get whipped into shape. They just need to move more.
Work is still work and movement is still movement. Fillers are an opportunity to introduce more movement in a low-impact setting without any repercussions of overtraining. What’s more, low-impact movement allows for better blood flow and overall recovery.
Reinforce quality movement drills into your clients’ filler sets to optimize recovery and improve their overall conditioning.
- FILLERS IMPROVE YOUR CLIENTS’ LIFTING TECHNIQUE
Fillers are an opportunity to address your clients’ weaknesses while reinforcing optimal lifting technique.
Every rep of every set provides valuable feedback. It gives a snapshot into how your clients can improve their technique and what fillers would be suitable for their individual needs.
For example, if your client’s upper back tends to round during RDL’s, some thoracic mobility drills may be good as a filler. Conversely, if your clients upper back caves as they do back squats, perhaps band pull aparts or some other low-impact upper back exercise may be ideal to help improve their strength.
Whether it’s filling dead air between sets with something constructive or helping your clients address their individual weak points through your personal training program, fillers are a great way to accomplish more work in a shorter amount of time.