Workout finishers are a high intensity end to a workout. They are a fantastic way of increasing the workload of a session without adding extra time.
Workout finishers are also a fantastic way to lead the client to managed overload – one of the important principles of training. A good workout finisher allows you to maximise your gym time and workload without spending ages adding additional exercises and sets.
I like finishers. I think as long as they are safe and don’t place too much demand on already fatigued muscles and central nervous system they are a great tool to end a workout on a high – increasing calorie expenditure and keeping the workout quality high to the very end.
One of my Stockport personal training clients has achieved fantastic fat loss results and has reached a level of fitness that lends itself really well to a high intensity finisher. Twice per week (he trains 4 times) we will end with a mini circuit of CrossFit-style exercises, sprints and/or plyometrics to add an extra dimension to his workout and help push his fitness levels ever higher.
Another personal training client has a weekly finisher on a spin bike – 5 minutes long, we alternate 30 seconds sprints with 30 seconds recovery. Psychologically, the extra sweat and the shortness of breath at the end of the session makes the clients believe they have trained extra hard as they end the workout exhausted!
I typically use workout finishers for fat loss clients as they lend themselves really well to a fat loss style workout. For strength goals they aren’t nearly as effective.
I don’t like to use finishers for beginners – technique can become a little slacker as a client fatigues during a finisher and that is something I don’t like to encourage in beginners. I want beginners to learn and repeat good form as often as possible. Additionally, in a beginner session there is plenty to be gained from a good quality exercise routine, meaning a finisher isn’t necessary and can wait until the client increases their relevant fitness levels.
Examples of workout finishers…
- Superset of kettlebell swings and press ups (20 down to 8)
- Sprint cycling – 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds recovery
- Superset of jump squats and jumping chin ups (10 down to 1)
- The burpee challenge – as many burpees as you can do in 5 minutes
- The TRX 40/40 challenge (if you complete this at the end of the workout you haven’t trained hard enough!)
- Sprints – 10 x 25m sprints with 10 second rest in between.
- Rower sprints – 10 x 100m intervals on with 15 seconds rest between intervals.
- 50m sprint pyramid – sprint 200m, rest for 45 seconds, sprint 150m, rest for 30 seconds, sprint 100m, rest for 15 seconds, finally sprint 50m.
- Prowler push – load 20kg on the prowler and sprint 10 x 15m, 30 seconds rest.
- Fireman carry – carry 20kg punch bag and perform 5 x 20m sprints
So there are 10 workout finishers for you to try at the end of your workout. At first, be sensible – the aim is to increase the workload of the session, not increase the risk of injury. The temptation is to over-estimate what is safe and possible and risk injuring yourself as a result. Take baby steps and learn as you go.
One final tip – add finishers to the end of a workout once, maybe twice per week – not every session. Some of the high intensity compound lifts will place a large stress on the central nervous system and shouldn’t be done too often otherwise you risk injury and illness.
As ever, recover properly from your sessions!