Choosing the Right Finisher: Part 2

*This article was originally published on in mid 2014. For reasons not revealed to me, Jacked Pack have since removed the blog from their site. So I figure I’m entitled to re-publish my original articles here now.

In Part 1 I walked you through the principles and thought process that goes into designing effective finishers for your training program. Today we get to the fun stuff.

Here are eight ready-made finishers for you to experiment with. These are all finishers that I’ve used myself and with my clients successfully many times, so you can be sure they’ve been battled-tested. Of course, feel free to modify them to better suit your individual needs. That’s what it’s all about after all.

Eight Examples of ‘Good’ Finishers

  For Fat Loss or General Conditioning:

  1. – Sled or prowler push x 30-50 metres (dependent on facility layout)
    – Immediately go into an inverted row (TRX, rings, Smith machine or barbell in a rack) x 15 reps
    – Rest 60 seconds
    – Repeat x 3-5 rounds.Notes:

    – Here we go from legs to upper body AND from push to pull. The row is more complex than the sled, yet is a common exercise in many training programs. Here however, you have to perform the row under duress immediately following the sled.- As fitness improves, add load to the sled, decrease the incline of the rows, or add more rounds.

    – If you train out of a facility that does not have a sled or a prowler, substitute with mountain climbers for 50-100 reps (this goes for all sled/prowler prescriptions).

  2. Kettlebell power swings x 15 reps on the minute, for 5-15 minutes.Notes:

    – Use a kettlebell heavy enough to challenge you. These are essentially ‘power intervals’. As a very rough guide, an average male should be able to use a 20-32 kilogram ‘bell, and females should be in the 12-20 kilo range. Heavier is better for less rounds, lighter for more.

    – If you find these weight prescriptions to be too heavy, then your swing technique is probably not yet at a high enough level to use swings within a finisher.

  3. – Battle ropes x 20 seconds
    – Sled/prowler x 30-50 metres
    – Rest 30-60 seconds
    – x 5-10 roundsNotes:

    – Pure cardio here. Switching from an upper to lower body emphasis, both exercises are a sprint. The round is short and the rest is short. Hence this works well for a higher number of rounds, to allow fatigue to accumulate.

    – Use any battle rope variation you wish that lets you stay aggressive. If you’re unfamiliar with many battle rope variations, just use a basic double or alternating arm wave.

  4. “Super legs”:
    – 12 x split squat per side
    – 12 x reverse lunge per side
    – Bodyweight or light goblet squat x 24
    – Rest 90 seconds between rounds.
    – x 1-3 roundsNotes:

    – Credit to goes to Alwyn Cosgrove, from whom I first heard of this complex.

    – Use just bodyweight, or a very light kettlebell or DB. You won’t need much load, trust me. However, on the squats, a light weight held in the goblet position often improves squat form.

    For Muscle Hypertrophy: 

  5. Ring rows x 10 reps
    Ring push ups x 5 reps
    – As many round as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutesNotes:

    – Being up against the clock often leads to butchering technique. Don’t do this. It really needs to be emphasised that it’s AMRAP with good form! Keep the push ups deep and the rows strict.

    – This is what’s called a density circuit. Over time, your goal is to do more work in the same amount of time. 10 rounds (one round per minute) is solid goal to shoot for.

    – Once you can get more than 10, you need to make it heavier. Do this by decreasing the incline or even adding a decline by elevating the feet. With the push ups, you can also add band resistance by looping a light resistance band around the back. Five reps might seem very low for push ups. I’d rather you made the reps harder than did more.

  6. – Half kneeling rope face pull x 20 reps
    Band/rope tricep extension x 20 reps per side/20 reps
    – x 5 rounds; no rest between rounds.Notes:

    – Most bodybuilders become meatheads about “corrective” exercise. They know they should do more work for the posterior shoulders and upper back, but never seem to get around to it. Some high rope face pulls are probably just what the Doc ordered, and the half kneeling position gives you some hip flexor stretching to boot.

    – You probably won’t even realise you’re doing corrective work as the face pull also incorporates quite a lot of bicep action. Paired with the tricep extensions, you’ll get a surprisingly pleasant arm pump going on.

    – If you have the option, I prefer single arm band tricep extension just due to their elbow friendly factor. If not, the rope will do just fine.

  7. Single leg hip thrust x 10 reps per side
    Single leg calf raise, bodyweight x 10-15 reps per side
    – x 5 Rounds; no rest between roundsNotes:

    – This is virtually the lower body version of the above. Glutes tend to be the equally neglected equivalent of the posterior shoulder and upper back, and all but the serious bodybuilder usually skip calf work.

    – It’s unlikely that you’ll need to use more than just your own bodyweight on these, due to the volume and short rest periods.

    – Be cautious with the calf raises if you haven’t been doing any calf work previously. I’d suggest start with 10 reps and just three rounds, and build up slowly to the 15 reps for five rounds. It might seem like an easy workload now, but I’ve seen many an overly ambitious lifter go too hard too soon on calves and be crippled for over a week. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  8. – Unsupported single arm kettlebell row x 8 reps per side
    – Strict single arm kettlebell press x 4 reps per side
    – AMRAP in 10 minutesNotes:

    – A nice little push-pull combo with a core stability emphasis: the unsupported and offset movements means that you are fighting to resist rotation in the row, and lateral flexion in the press.

    – Generally in a bodybuilding program stabilisers are neglected in a bid to gain better leverage to load the muscles more effectively. Which is fine. But here’s a chance to hit some of those weaker points while getting in some extra volume of rowing, which is rarely a bad thing, and some kettlebell pressing, which offers a novel stimulus compared to barbell, dumbbell or machine pressing.

    – Set up with a heavier KB for the rows, a lighter one for the presses, a stopwatch and you’re good to go.

So there are eight finishers for you ready to go. Pick the ones that are more specific to your goals, are more practical in terms of equipment and space, and look the most fun for you to do.
Add, subtract, adjust and tweak as you please, just keep those key tenets in mind in creating your own finisher, and no more high rep Olympic lifts and box jumps!
Incorporate these into your current training program to improve any of muscle size, fat loss and general conditioning.

Thoughts, questions, hate mail, or anything I missed? Feel free to drop a comment below. And of course, sharing this article will naturally help you jump the queue in your wait for karmic justice to start paying out.  

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