Effective workout finishers to accelerate results
The dreaded workout ‘finisher’ is usually a compound movement performed at the end of a workout, with both intensity and volume, to help boost your metabolism, stimulate additional growth, and fully deplete each muscle. This helps to build endurance, blast calories (most of which will come from fat due to your glycogen-depleted state), and promote the release of a cascade of anabolic hormones that both increase muscle tissue and further aid the fat-loss process.
Generally considered to form part of metabolic conditioning, or metcon training, workout finisher sets deliver similar benefits to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but can be used at the end of a bodybuilding-focused session to boost the metabolic cost, so to speak, of your training session.
Implementation: Perform a single intense exercise, or a combination of exercises or a metcon circuit at the end of your strength training session for 2-5 minutes.
Tip: A Tabata is a great protocol to structure your workout finisher. In 2012, Canadian researchers at the Queen’s University had a small group of college students perform as many repetitions as possible of a single exercise, including push-ups, for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The individuals repeated this process eight times, in line with conventional Tabata protocols, for a total of four minutes. After executing the routine four days a week for a total of four weeks, the students in the Tabata group significantly increased aerobic capacity (VO2max) by 7-8% (as did the control aerobic exercise group) but they also increased their muscular endurance, measured as the maximum number of leg extensions, chest presses, push-ups, sit-ups, and back extensions they could perform. The control group, which ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 80% of VO2max, didn’t realise the same benefit.
Why you should include them:
- Boosts fat loss: Your glycogen stores are low at the end of a training session, which makes it more likely that stored fat will fuel your efforts during the finisher.
- Ignites the afterburners: These intense exercises also place high metabolic demands on your body, both during the exercise to meet its immediate energy requirements, and after the finisher to restore homoeostasis – the so-called after-burn effect. This elevated level of calorie consumption can last for up to 24 hours after your session has ended.
- Builds work capacity: Finishers help to build mental toughness and fatigue resistance (endurance) by pushing your boundaries in a depleted or partially fatigued state.
4 top finisher moves
Medicine ball overhead slams
Stand holding a medium weight (3-5kg) medicine ball in both hands. Lift the medicine ball overhead and then slam the ball into the ground as hard as you can. Try to use your whole body (legs, abs and all). Catch the ball and repeat.
Note: Be careful not to let the medicine ball bounce back and hit you in the face.
Why: Great for upper-body conditioning – improve upper body endurance and torso power.