workout finishers

Workout Finishers: Why, When and How with 10 Finisher Examples

September 06, 2020

If you are the type of person who really strives to get the most out of your workout, you will want to end it with a bang. Many of us crush our main workout, but towards the end, the intensity dies down. If you want to maximize your fitness results, burning more fat and gaining more muscle, you need to bring that intensity all the way through to the end of your workout. The best way to make sure you are ending each and every workout session with a bang is by doing a workout finisher. We guarantee that if you start to employ workout finishers after your main workout, your fitness will bump up multiple notches and you will get into the best shape of your life.

Below you will learn everything you need to know about finisher workouts. We also have numerous workout finisher examples that you can put to use after your regular workout routine.

finisher workouts

WHAT IS A WORKOUT FINISHER?

A finisher is a challenging workout method involving exercises done with high intensity at the end of a regular workout. Finisher routines incorporate both cardio and resistance exercises, and they are typically short, around 1-10 minutes. The goal of a finisher is to fully exhaust your body as to maximize fat loss and/or muscle growth.

You can think of a workout finisher as the final push of a workout. You want to push yourself to the max, doing as many repetitions as you can in the short period of time that you give yourself for the finisher.

A finisher can involve bodyweight exercises and/or exercises with various training tools. No matter what you choose, the aim is to really fatigue yourself and push your limits.

By inducing both muscle burn and exhaustion, your body is tapping into the final reserves of your muscles’ energy. After a finisher, you should have that feeling like you need to bend over and put your hands on your knees to catch your breath. That’s the level of intensity you need to reach during a finisher.

Because of how taxing a finisher workout is, they are considered to be an advanced protocol of fitness training. Beginners often have trouble pushing themselves to the highest degree. That said, a finisher can be adjusted to meet the demands of any fitness level.

Finishers have limitless possibilities in how they are structured. You are only limited by your creativity. This includes target areas (i.e. chest, back, legs, full body), overall goals (i.e burn fat, gain strength), equipment (kettlebells, barbells, steel maces, resistance bands, bodyweight-only), exercises (kettlebell swings, burpees, push ups, squats), number of exercises (one exercise, multiple exercises), and so on.

What remains the same is the workouts are relatively short (again, 1-10 minutes) and you are pushing yourself to nearly your highest capacity, attempting to do as many reps as possible in the set time.

Keep reading on as we are going to discuss the benefits of finishers, how you can create endless finishers, and then we are going to provide a number of finisher workout examples.

bodybuilding finishers

Bodybuilding-Style Finisher - Exercise Finishers

While finishers, as the name suggests, are done at the end of a workout, there is another kind of finishers that bodybuilders and weightlifters employ. It is an exercise finisher.

Here’s how it works. At the end of a set of exercises (i.e. bench press), you do a drop set or one set at a lighter weight for as many reps as possible. This is an exercise finisher. The goal of this is to really tap out the muscles you are targeting, bringing them to failure (or near failure) after you finish a certain exercise. This is a great way for maximizing hypertrophy.

WHY YOU SHOULD DO A WORKOUT FINISHER?

While finishers alone are not the key to overall fitness success, they are a fantastic way to help you get into better shape. Workout finishers offer some very special benefits to those who are looking to turn their fitness level up to eleven.

Here are some of the main rewards you can reap from doing finishers after your workouts:

1. Great Form of Anaerobic Fitness

Anaerobic exercises require quick bursts of energy. They are performed at maximum effort for a short duration. Examples of anaerobic exercises are sprinting, jumping and, yes, weightlifting. These kinds of exercises require instant energy, unlike aerobic exercises (jogging), which are fueled by oxygen.

HIIT is a form of anaerobic training, and a workout finisher is like a short HIIT session.

A finisher workout will progressively become more intense. This, in turn, will make it hard for the body to provide oxygen for the muscles. When your muscles are absent of oxygen, your body goes into an anaerobic state, and the benefits of putting your body in an anaerobic state are myriad.

Anaerobic workouts, even short ones of 1-10 minutes will help boost your metabolism, increase power and explosion, promote bone strength and density, protects joints, enhances lactic threshold, and it even helps to reduce the risk of disease.

With these kinds of benefits, you can see why athletes of high-intensity sports all employ anaerobic training in their regimen. And while it is a necessary form of training for athletes, it is great for the average person as well. After all, who doesn’t want to optimize their physiological self?

2. Rapid Calorie Burn

The intensity of a finisher is a great way to add a lot more calorie burn to your workout. This is great for weight management and shedding off pesky fat.

3. EPOC

You won’t just be burning calories during your workout if you do an intense finisher, you will be burning calories long after you finish. This is a physiological phenomenon called post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

A workout finisher will be much more intense and tough on your muscles than your regular medium intensity resistance workout, so you will deplete your energy stores. With that, your body needs to replenish your muscles’ energy stores and repair the damage to your muscles. To do this, your body requires energy in the form of calories.

So, if your goal is to lose fat, especially that pesky last bit of belly fat, workout finishers are an excellent way to achieve that.

4. Speed & Endurance

By performing exercises in bursts, you will develop speed and explosion. And by doing a lot of work volume in a short period of time, your endurance will improve, especially in terms of strength endurance. While it is great to be strong for a few reps, it is also important to be able to maintain that strength over an extended period of time. Workout finishers will help you maintain strength for longer periods of time. It’s the perfect combination of muscular strength and endurance.

5. Challenge Yourself

A workout finisher is challenging, both mentally and physically. Probably even more so mentally. Finishers can help you gain confidence in the fact that your body can still work hard even in a fatigued state. More often than not, it is your mind that gives up before your body. This is why athletes benefit so much for these kinds of workouts. The mental fortitude that comes with pushing yourself to the limit is not to be underestimated. It will translate to improvements in all areas of your training.

All in all, workout finishers are designed to allow you to achieve maximum growth from your workout, on all levels. They ensure that your workouts are challenging enough so you can continually improve and enhance your fitness level.

how to do a workout finisher

HOW TO DO A FINISHER WORKOUT?

There is really an unlimited number of ways that you can structure a finisher workout. What you do for your finisher will depend on your fitness goals. A workout finisher can be strength and conditioning focused, hypertrophy focused, metabolic focused, and so on. A finisher can target specific muscle groups, such as your core, biceps, triceps, legs, chest, etc, or your full body. There really are no rules in terms of what a finisher should be. The only thing that should be consistent is that you do a lot of volume and a short time.

A finisher should be physically (and mentally) taxing. Think of it as ending your workout with a bang. Because of that, you will want to use lighter loads or bodyweight exercises and do as many reps as you can with the least amount of rest. The goal should be to almost not rest at all during your finisher. So, if you were doing a leg finisher, you could do half of your normal working weight for squats and do As Many Reps As Possible in 5 minutes OR you could do bodyweight jump squats for AMRAP in 5-10 minutes.

How long should a finisher workout be?

A typical finisher workout should last from 1-10 minutes. They are short because you will be working at a high intensity with minimal rest, so you can only go so long at that kind of pace.

No matter what kind of finisher you do, push yourself hard. The goal should be to exhaust yourself, but be sure to leave just a little in the tank as you don’t want to leave a workout completely wiped out every time or you can end up overtraining yourself or needing prolonged recovery.

Below we are going to give you various finisher workout examples that you can use. This will help you understand how finisher workouts look. We will note the finishers' "goal". You can use the below finisher workouts at your disposal.

benefits of workout finishers

WORKOUT FINISHER EXAMPLES

Here are some examples of workout finishers that you follow…

BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT FINISHER FOR BEGINNERS

Goal: Metabolic Conditioning (Calorie Burn, Endurance & Conditioning)

Being that this is a metabolic finisher, you will be targeting your full body with compound exercises at a high intensity. We switch from lower to upper body focused exercises throughout the workout so you can make it through at a high intensity. Also, this will make it so your blood has to travel from your upper to your lower body, which makes for more calories burned.

Total Finisher Time:  5 minutes

As Many Rounds As Possible:

  • Burpees x 10 reps (half-burpees if you need to)
  • Sit Ups x 15 reps
  • Push Ups x 15 reps (on your knees if you need to)
  • Tuck Jumps x 8 reps

Note: We love this workout for beginners as you control the intensity. The slower you go through the workout, the easier it will be. Thus, this workout can be very intense or somewhat easy. Moreover, you can really see you improvements over time. The first time you may only get 1.5 rounds, the second 2 rounds, and so on. Of course, you will want to do other finishers to mix it up. But, come back to this one and see how much you improve.

TABATA FINISHER

Goal: Fat Loss

A Tabata finisher is one of the best ways to finish off a workout. It is fast-paced and high intensity, so you will burn a ton of fat. You are going to feel exhausted after this one. Just push through the burn, because your muscles are going to be burning with such short rest.

Total Finisher Time: 4 minutes

20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 2 rounds

  • Jumping Lunges
  • Burpees
  • High Knees
  • Up-Down Planks

SPRINT FINISHER

Goal: Burning Fat while Preserving Muscle Mass, Leg Mass, Increase Anaerobic Threshold, Boost Power & Explosiveness, Cardiovascular Health.

This one is great for athletes. For this one you will need to get out on the track or find a big field. An empty road will work too.

Total Finisher Time: Approx. 5-6 mins

1:2 Work-Rest Ratio - So you will rest for twice as long as it takes you to do the sprint. Start at 200 meters and work your way down to 50 meters. Then you are done!

  • 200 meters
  • 150 meters
  • 100 meters
  • 75 meters
  • 50 meters

PLYOMETRIC AMRAP FINISHER

Goal: Explosiveness, Toning, Burning Calories, Stamina, Metabolic Health, Athleticism 

Total Finisher Time: 3 Minutes

Plyometric exercises are basically jumping exercises. So, squat jumps, skater jumps, box jumps, clapping push ups, tuck jumps, etc. For this finisher, you are going to choose one plyometric exercises and do as many reps as possible in 3 minutes.

Have fun! This is three minutes of hell! But it is so worth it.

LADDER FINISHER

Goal: Hypertrophy, Fat Loss, Endurance

This is an ascending descending ladder finisher. We are going to give you two options, one incorporates a kettlebell, the other is bodyweight only.

Total Finisher Time: 6-10 minutes (depends how fast you move through the ladder)

Here’s how it works, the first exercise you start with 10 reps, the second exercise you start with 1 rep. You do 10 reps for the first exercise, then immediately do 1 rep for the second. From there, you go right back to the first exercise and perform 9 reps and then 2 reps for the second exercise. You continue like this until you complete 1 rep for the first exercise and 10 reps for the second. You should only rest when you absolute have to.

Option 1:

  • Kettlebell Swings x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Burpees or Tuck Jumps x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Option 2:

  • Push Ups x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Tuck Jumps x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

If you are really strong, you could substitute push ups for pull ups if you want to work your back muscles OR pike push ups if you want to target your shoulders.

CORE FINISHER

Goal: Core Strength, Six Pack Abs

This core finisher is going to burn like crazy, but power through it and you will have an amazing core in no time.

Total Finisher Time: 10 minutes

9 exercises, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 2 rounds

  1. Plank Jacks
  2. Hollow Holds
  3. Rolling Plank
  4. Alt. Heel Touches
  5. Bicycle Crunch
  6. Lying Leg Raises
  7. Up-Down Planks
  8. Mountain Climbers
  9. Leg Up Crunches

BODYBUILDING FINISHERS

For this, we aren’t going to prescribe a workout, we simply want to explain how to do bodybuilding finishers for hypertrophy and muscular strength & endurance.

This kind of finisher is like a mini finisher that you do intraworkout. There are two ways to do this.

  1. A burnout set: basically bring the weight down to half your working weight and do as many reps as possible
  2. A drop set: do as many reps as you can at your working weight, then immediately lower the weight a bit and do another set, and then drop some weight off again and do another set, and then do it again with very minimal weight for max reps. Don’t rest at all, except to lower the weight of course. Aim to do 4 sets for your drop set.

KB WORKOUT FINISHER

Goal: Strength & Conditioning

For our kettlebell lovers, this is a great finisher with your favorite fitness tool.

Total Finisher Time: 5 Minutes

Do as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes.

  • Two-Handed KB Swings x 10
  • Alternating Snatches x 10 (5 each side)
  • Goblet Squats x 10

workout finisher examples

RESISTANCE BAND FINISHER

Goal: Muscle Endurance, Hypertrophy

If you have a set of resistance bands, you can take your bodyweight style finishers up to the next level. Here is one of our favorite Resistance Band Finishers…

Total Finisher Time: 9 Minutes

30 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, 2 rounds

  • Resistance Band Thrusters
  • Resistance Band Power Squats
  • Resistance Band Sumo Deadlifts
  • Resistance Band Push Ups
  • Resistance Band Seated Rows

24 Best Resistance Band Exercises

best equipment for workout finishers

Get a Set of Resistance Bands

FUN WORKOUT FINISHER FOR STEEL MACE


This is one of our favorite steel mace finisher, and it is a super simple one. That said, simple doesn't mean easy!

Here's what you do for this simple macebell workout finisher...

Set a timer for 3 Minutes. You will be doing steel mace 360s for the entire 3 minutes, no rest.

Be sure to switch directions and which hand is stacked on top to keep things even. It doesn't have to be perfect, but remember to switch it up. You could do this every 10-20 reps or 30-45 seconds. When you switch, don't put the mace down! Aim to keep swinging for the full duration of the finisher.

Tip: If things are getting too difficult or your 360 isn't quite up to par for this finisher, choke up on your mace and perform the 360s like that. It will make it considerably easier.

BE SURE TO KEEP TRACK OF HOW MANY SWINGS YOU COMPLETE. That way you can check your mace 360 progress for future attempts at this finisher.

Shop Steel Maces

Benefits of this short steel mace workout finisher?

  1. Forearm and Grip Strength
  2. Core Strength
  3. Shoulder/Back Strength
  4. Metabolic Health

All in all, this finisher a great way to end a steel mace workout. You will end with a calorie and fat burning bang.

steel mace finisher

BEST BODYWEIGHT FINISHER EXERCISES AT HOME

Any bodyweight exercise can be a finisher. In fact, any exercise there is, equipment included, can be incorporated into a finisher. You just have to consider the weight load.

In terms of home exercises, you probably want bodyweight-only ideas.

You can target your full body for fat burning with burpees, jumping jacks OR you can target muscles that you worked during your workout, for example push ups, squats as to really hammer them for maximum gains at the end of your work. Put simply, any of your normal bodyweight exercises can be done for a finisher, often times, with just more explosion.

Here are some of our favorites…

Best bodyweight fat burning finisher exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks
  • Tuck jumps
  • High knees

Best bodyweight muscle building finisher exercises:

  • Clapping Push Ups (or push ups)
  • Jump Squats or Lunges
  • Pull Ups
  • Hand Stands
  • Pike Push Ups

best workout finisher ideas

WORKOUT FINISHER SONGS

A fun way to end a workout is with a finisher song. To do this, start a song of your choice and perform a circuit of exercises for as many rounds as possible or one exercise for as many reps as possible for the length of the song. When the song ends, so does your finisher workout.

You can also get creative by adding one burpee, or any exercise you want, at the beginning of chorus or every time a certain word is said.

Some of our favorite songs for workout finishers are:

  • Thunderstruck by AC/DC
  • Roxanne by the Police 
  • Enter Sandman by Metallica
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
  • Roses by SAINt JHN
  • Wake me up bu Avicii
  • Lets go by Calvin Harris
  • I like it by Cardi B
  • Numb Encore by Jay Z
  • Party Up by DMX
  • BOP by Dababy
  • Jumpman by Drake
  • Power by Kanye West

workout finisher no equipment

SHOULD I DO WORKOUT FINISHERS?

In short, yes. Everyone can benefit from workout finishers. While a finisher can be adjusted to all fitness levels, it does require some experience to recognize your body’s limit. If you are beginner, get a feel for your work capacity and don’t overdo it your first couple of times. Figure out a good happy medium of exhausting yourself but not completely overdoing it. It’s better to start easier and workout your way up in intensity. As for intermediate and advanced trainees, you should definitely be employing a few finishers a week. Do finishers based on the goals you are currently trying to achieve. This is a great way to get into the best shape of your life.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO WORKOUT FINISHERS

Although workout finishers are short, they are supposed to be very intense. Thus, you will not want to do a finisher every single workout or every single day. This applies to even the most advanced athletes. Aim to do 2-3 finishers per week, spread out. And, make sure you refuel with water and healthy food and get good rest after each session.

Beginners, start with 1 finisher per week and work your way up to 2, then eventually 3. Again, get a feel for your fitness capacity and how well you are recovering, as to avoid overtraining.

Battle on!



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