Workout Finishers

Quick Tips

workout finishersI’ve wanted to write a piece about workout finishers for a long, long, long time.

Workout finishers are the equivalent of seasoning your steak after you’ve grilled it or applying that final coat of wax your car after you’ve washed it.

You’ve done the bulk of the work and now it is time for the final splash of effort.

Workout finishers are micro-workouts (located within the bigger workout) placed at the end of the workout which typically involve a variety of exercises (resistance based or otherwise) performed in a work capacity-like fashion.

I have to say, I am a fan of workout finishers.

But I think they are mis-understood sometimes.

Workout finishers aren’t meant to be the workout.  The workout is still the workout.  Workout finishers are an adjunct that most commonly comes at the end of a full training session.  This isn’t law by any means, just my interpretation of how the workout finisher fits into the grand scheme of things.

Workout finishers seem to fit best at the end of a workout after all power, strength and stability exercises have been completed using organized rest.  The workout finisher serves as a low-load, highly metabolic “icing on the cake” adjunct to the rest of the workout.  The incomplete (or no rest) rest combined with various groupings of muscular taxing movements will elevate your heart rate rapidly, burn out your lungs and leave you wondering why you decided to add a finisher in the first place.

I’ve  measured my heart rate to be near its peak BPM (beats per minute) at the end of a finisher or shortly thereafter.

Workout finishers are a healthy alternative to more traditional forms of cardiovascular conditioning, which can inject a major breath of fresh air back into your workout.

There’s nothing wrong with shuttle runs, stationary bike sprints or incline treadmill intervals, but let’s face it… those activities can get monotonous after a while.

Part of establishing sustainable workout habits is making it interesting and fun.  If you begin to dread the same old conditioning session at the end of the workout, you may end up avoiding it altogether.

So, workout finishers can serve a purpose.

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I always think of Dumb and Dumber when I say that…

The key to workout finishers is finding a flowing combination of manageable exercises, with a rep schedule, tempo and pace that will allow you to maintain (and own) your exercise technique while fatiguing your body beyond your comfort zone for the last time that time.

In my experience, lower body movements always work great.

In particular, squat and lunge variations work wonderfully.  Total body oriented movements like burpees and squat-to-press work great also.

Finding upper body exercises that work well inside of a workout finisher can be a bit more challenging.  Battling ropes, push ups and inverted rows (using a suspension trainer, rings or Smith Machine) are examples of exercises that have worked well for me.

Battling ropes, something that most people won’t have at their house or their gym, might just be the best choice for upper body work capacity.  The stimulus received from battling rope drills is unique to the tool, since the variation in wave patterns is so wide.

Check them out here to understand what I mean…

In a pinch, you could use resistance bands, although I still struggle with resistance bands because of the inconsistent loading throughout the range of motion.  In other words, the bands provide little resistance at the beginning of the movement while the load is increased at the band is stretched further.  The maximum loading occurs at the end range of the exercise.  If you’re just using bands for an added stimulus, they definitely do work.  I just wish the loading was consistent the entire way is all.

Dave Schmitz has some great stuff on resistance band training.  The more articles and videos I view from Dave, the more I find myself dabbling with band training.  I’m toes deep in that pool.

So I bet you’re ready for the workouts already?

Ok, here you go!

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I’ll warn you that the “Swings and Burpees” workout finisher is tough.  Even if you didn’t set a time target for completion, it’s a challenging task.  I have breached the 6 minute mark a few times, and 5:30min would be a really great time.  Don’t cheat your swings and full burpees.

The AMAP of burpees just sucks.  It’s tiring to go from a lying position to a standing position over and over again.  Very tiring.

The bodyweight leg complex is a variation of a workout that I used to use.  The reps used to be 24 for each exercise, but my form went to hell all too quick, so I dialed it back.  Good form and manageable fatigue make this a great workout finisher.  If you finish all of the exercises in say, 90 seconds, then you have just earned yourself 90 seconds of rest before starting the next cycle through.  The time it takes to finish the work, is the time that you earn for your rest.

Intergrate workout finishers into your regularly scheduled program.  You’ll love it.

Cheers to finishing the workout!


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