Workout finishers (also known as metabolic finishers or conditioning finishers) are a short burst series of exercises at the end of a workout designed to complement strength based training.
A workout finisher can be a single exercise, like a burpee, or a series of exercises strung together (squat, push up, pull up, etc). Finishers typically take 1-10 minutes to complete, and can be organized into intervals or metabolic resistance training (think thrusters).
A tough finisher will burn extra calories, boost cardio and work capacity while increasing the fat burning potential of the days workout.
These days, I mainly string together several different exercises, using a variety of movement patterns and equipment. From time to time, I’ll schedule a single exercise finisher, but it’s rare. Burpees are a great exercise to use if you’re only going to do choose one.
Mixing Kettlebell Swings and Burpees
This post is all about one of the toughest workout finishers…
The word “burpee” makes me cringe. Burpees are a brutally effective exercise and I rarely program burpees into my own training simply because they are hard.
I shouldn’t admit that.
Burpees jack up your heart rate fast. Few other bodyweight exercises compare to burpees for total body conditioning. Burpees, though simplistic, are extremely functional. Transitioning up from a low ground position to a standing position happens in sports all of time. Maybe not for high reps like we program in a workout, but it happens.
How do you make the burpee experience harder? Add in some kettlebell swings.
This kettlebell swing and burpee workout finisher is brutal. Back when my equipment arsenal consisted of 3 kettlebells, I gave the kettlebell swing/burpee finisher a go.
The combination fit the equipment and space I had available perfectly.
I stopped twice on my first attempt. Not for extended periods, but long enough to consider throwing in the towel. It’s hard to remember my finishing time, but I think it was less than 8 minutes.
I do remember the fatigue however, it was hard to gather myself. I ate a pile of food that night and the following morning and the afterburn effect was potent.
So I share this workout finisher with you. Keep it in your back pocket on the days where you’ve completed your skill work and strength training and still high on motivation.
You’ll need one kettlebell and some space to for burpees. Ideally the burpees will include a squat jump each time (aka: full burpees), so take into account overhead clearance. Choose a kettlebell you can swing for 15-20 repetitions comfortably. It will be sub-maximal weight for the swings.
I recommend most males to swing a 24kg or a 28kg kettlebell and females to swing a 20kg or a 24 kg kettlebell.
Of course, you can swing whatever size kettlebell you want, the recommendations are just generalized suggestions. A heavier or lighter kettlebell may be chosen based on your fitness level and experience with swings under extreme fatigue.
By design, this workout finisher has 100 kettlebell swings and 55 burpees.
10 KB Swings + 1 Burpee
10 KB Swings + 2 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 3 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 4 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 5 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 6 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 7 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 8 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 9 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 10 Burpees
The kettlebell swing reps remain fixed at 10, while the burpees increase by 1 rep each round. When you finish the 10th burpee on the last round, you’re done.
When you’re doing this workout finisher, it’s easy to lose track of what round you’re on. I’ve performed several rounds twice by mistake.
Modification and Variations
There are a ton of options to reduce the stress of this workout finisher, here some examples:
• Decrease kettlebell swings to 5 reps each round
• Swing lighter kettlebell (keep reps at 10)
• Burpee with no jump (removing the jump makes burpees easier)
• Burpee with no push up and no jump (again, much easier)
Don’t forget… take rest if you need it. Resting is a simple way to decrease the difficulty of this workout finisher. The goal should be to push through each round without rest, but if you need it and technique depends on it, take it.
Careful here. Having completed this workout finisher periodically over the years, I know how brutal it can be.
Before trying to make this harder, set a target finish time finish of 6 minutes or less. Anything over 6 minutes and there is no reason to make it harder. You’ve got progress to make before increasing the difficulty.
If you finish in less than 6 minutes, consider sizing up the weight of the kettlebell or adding an extra round where you’ll complete 11 burpees in the final effort.
I don’t foresee a lot of people needing more intensity, but there are always options to do so.
Variations to the original…
Smaller Cycles w/ rest periods
Keep kettlebell swings at 10 reps but stop at 5 reps of burpees.
Round 1: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Burpee
Round 2: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Burpees
Round 3: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Burpees
Round 4: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 4 Burpees
Round 5: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 5 Burpees
Above is an example of one round.
Rest for 90sec-120sec after this round before starting the next round. Complete anywhere from 2-5 rounds total. This decrease the working time in half and give you a chance to rest before going again.
Break up the Burpees into separate movements
Instead of performing a full burpee with a push up and squat jump, break it up. Now you’ll be performing like so:
Round 1: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Push Ups + 1 Squats
Round 2: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Push Ups + 2 Squats
Round 3: 10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Push Ups + 3 Squats
And so on…
Flip-Flop Swing and Burpee Reps
Switch around the kettlebell swing and burpee reps.
Round 1: 1 Kettlebell Swing + 10 Burpees
Round 2: 2 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees
Round 3: 3 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees
And so on…
The afterburn effect of this workout finisher is HUGE. If you’re pushing your boundaries, you’ll feel it for hours post-workout. Personally, I like to position something like this after a strength training session where I know the next day is a rest day.
Workout finishers are great for adding in a little work capacity and increasing the fat loss potential of a workout.
Give this a try and let me know how you did.