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Explosive Workout Finishers Can Help You See Huge Gains in Your Fitness Goals

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosJanuary 10, 2020

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I like to think of my workouts like a pyramid: There’s the warm up, filled with dynamic stretches and blood-pumpers that help to build the base for what’s ahead. The mid-section when my body is steadily getting stronger and performing, which makes up the bulk of the workout. And the peak (like the cherry on top) when I get to recover and cool down. But as it happens, it could be worth rethinking this formula, because a lot of trainers believe you should actually be ending your workout with an explosive “finisher.”

A finisher is pretty much the opposite of a cool down. Instead of going easier as you finish up your workout, you instead do high intensity exercises to make sure your muscles are fully fatigued. “A finisher is an intense exercise or series of exercises performed at the end of a workout that’s designed to ensure that you’ve burned every last drop of gas in the tank,” says Nicholas Poulin, trainer and CEO of Poulin Health and Wellness. “If you value things like mental toughness and the satisfaction that comes with pushing yourself to your maximum capacity, finishers are hard to beat.”

This is not to say that finisher rounds are fun. Near the end of your workout, you’re technically supposed to feel worn down and tired—so pushing yourself really, really hard after everything you’ve done is definitely a challenge. “Finishers were essentially designed to leave you gasping for air,” says Poulin (gulp). One of the benefits of this is that you really get to take your fitness to the next level. Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer Chase Weber likes this strategy because finishers get you near (or at) your max heart rate, which is good for your cardiovascular strength. “This is especially useful when you’re training for something like a marathon,” he says. “These workouts teach your body how to respond in the absence of oxygen so that you can keep your composure, perform at your highest level, and come out happy that you had a great workout,” adds Poulin.

As for just what can go into a finisher round, Weber prefers kettlebell swings, sprints, squat jumps… or a combination of all three. For more example finishers to tack onto the end of your next workout, keep scrolling.

Try these 3 workout finishers at the end of your next sweat sesh

1. Medicine ball rotational throw: Stand with your torso perpendicular and several feet away from a wall. Hold a medicine ball with both hands in an athletic stance—this is your starting position. Focus on contracting your abdominals, and begin by rotating your shoulders away from the wall, winding up in preparation for the throw. Immediately reverse direction, turning your shoulders, and releasing the ball against the wall as fast as you can. Receive the ball on the bounce and repeat. Poulin suggests doing one to four sets of 30 reps on each side.

2. Shuttle sprints: Set up two cones or markers that are about 25 feet apart for a 300-yard shuttle sprint. Sprint as fast as possible back and forth between them 12 times, completing six round trips. Touch the cones each time, and Poulin recommends aiming for one to four sets (300 yards is one set).

3. Battle ropes and side planks: For a one-two punch, combine battle ropes and side planks. Poulin recommends doing 30 seconds of battle ropes in any technique you prefer, then—without resting—get into a side plank position. Hold for about 30 seconds, then do another battle rope round that ends in a side plank on the opposite side. He suggests doing three sets (one set is one left and one right plank).

BTW, here’s what to know about adding power to your fitness routine. And this is how tracking your heart rate can allow you to hack your workouts. 

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