End your workouts with the right high intensity “finisher” to see greater gains in strength and endurance. Here, eight great formulas to feel the afterburn in a hurry.
COMPLETE YOUR workout feeling strong and burn more calories after it’s over by using metabolic finisher sets at the end of your routine. “These use every last drop of gas in your tank,” explains Lisa Niren, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at the PE Club in New York, who typically adds metabolic finishers for fat loss as a replacement to performing cardio. “Metabolic finishers are not always the most ‘fun,’ ” she says, “but they help prepare mental toughness and allow you to finish the workout with the satisfaction that comes with pushing yourself to your edge.”
How it works: “I like to focus on full-body exercises done at high intensity, rotating from a lower-body exercise to an upperbody move,” says Niren. The result: You’ll burn more calories, since blood has to travel back and forth between the lower and upper body. The effect is much like HIIT, which boosts your metabolism for up to 48 hours after you’ve finished your training.
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 1
DO IT: Start with a barbell and choose four to six exercises. Do eight to 10 reps per exercise, completing them all with no rest between moves.
- HANG CLEAN
- PUSH PRESS
- FRONT SQUAT
- BENTOVER ROW
- STRAIGHT-LEG DEADLIFT
- SQUAT JUMP (LIGHT WEIGHT)
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 2
DO IT: You can do these intervals by time or distance. “I prefer doing rowing intervals for distance and seeing how long it takes,” says Niren. Perform four sets of 250 meters, taking 30 seconds of rest between each set.
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 3
3 PYRAMID TRAINING
DO IT: Pick any exercise and work your way down in reps. For example, if you chose pushups as a finisher, start with 10 pushups, take a short rest, do nine pushups, take a short rest, do eight, and so on. Work your way all the way down to one pushup. To take pyramid training to the next level, try picking difficult exercises and pairing them up, then work down in reps. For example, do barbell squats for 10 reps, take a short rest, do 10 inverted rows, take a rest, and go back to barbell squats, doing nine this time. Work your way down to doing one rep for each exercise.
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 4
TIMED CHALLENGES (AKA DENSITY SETS, OR AS MANY ROUNDS AS POSSIBLE [“AMRAP”])
DO IT: Pick an amount of time, such as four minutes, and do as many reps of an exercise as you can in that time period. You can take breaks whenever needed, but keep track of how many reps you complete. Then compare your results on your next workout!
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 5
DO IT: Moving mass in this exercise will burn out muscles to the very end. Place a 45-pound plate on a towel and push it forward on a hard surface like a gym floor to the opposite gym wall, then push it back. You can choose to go for a set amount of time or a specific number of reps.
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 6
TREADMILL/HILL/ STEP SPRINTS
DO IT: Treadmill sprints, which can also be done on hills, flat ground, or steps, are a perfect workout finisher if you don’t have a lot of equipment or time. Run at a fast pace on a treadmill for a certain amount of time, take a short rest, and repeat for a specified time or number of reps. This is more about improving short, explosive power bursts than cardio endurance.
SAMPLE ROUTINE: SPRINT 15 SECONDS AT A 10% INCLINE REST 15 SECONDS REPEAT FOR 8–10 REPS
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 7
DO IT: Tabata training typically involves eight sets of 20 seconds of exercise with 10 seconds of rest. For example, choose a body-weight exercise like squats, lunges, burpees, squat jumps, high knees in place, or pushups and go through the 20-on, 10-off protocol. You can also switch things up by doing a different exercise for each 20-second time period.
F A T – L O S S FINISHER NO. 8
DO IT: All you need for this finisher is yourself! Simply pick a couple of exercises and a goal number of total reps. Keep track of how long it takes you to complete all the reps.
100 REPS FOR EACH EXERCISEMOUNTAIN CLIMBER SWITCHING LUNGE JUMP PUSHUP SQUAT JUMP