You know the routine: Do a set, rest, do another set. Let’s change that. “By filling your rest periods with exercises, you can improve conditioning and kickstart your metabolism,” says Jim Smith, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Diesel Crew. Pick fillers that work different muscle groups than your main exercise does, and do them for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Smith likes these pairings.
Between sets of: Chinups
Do this filler: Mountain climber
Assume a pushup position with your hands on a medicine ball. Lift your right foot off the floor and raise your right knee as close to your chest as you can, without rounding your lower back. Put your leg down, and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating as fast as you can.
Between sets of: Dumbbell bench presses
Do this filler: Jump squat
Place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so they’re in line with your body. Dip your knees, and then explosively jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat and jump again.
Between sets of: Deadlifts
Do this filler: Medicine ball slam
Hold a medicine ball at waist level, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your elbows slightly bent, explosively lift the ball up and then slam it to the floor in front of you. Grab the ball on the rebound and repeat.
Dumbbell Hang Pull
Between sets of: Squats
Do this filler: Dumbbell hang pull
Stand with your hips pushed back (as if you’re about a quarter of the way into a squat) while holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip. In one movement, straighten your hips, knees, and ankles, and explosively pull the dumbbells as high as you can. Lower yourself to the starting position and repeat.
Between sets of: Dumbbell military presses
Do this filler: Bench jump
Stand facing a bench that’s at knee height. Squat as low as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Then explosively jump over the bench and land in a deep squat. Turn around so you’re again facing the bench, and repeat.