3 Finishers for Fat Loss

blog finisherWith summer on the horizon, it’s pretty safe to assume that your desire to burn excess fat is at its peak. Even though your nutrition plan is the primarily stimulus for getting leaner, there are simple workout modifications to augment fat loss. Indeed, when you need to figure out how to get ripped in the shortest time possible, finishers will do the trick.

A finisher is an exercise that stimulates as many major muscle groups as possible for minutes at a time. And just like the name implies, a finisher should be performed after your regular workout is done. There are two reasons why a finisher really should be at the end of a workout.

First, after a sufficient strength training workout your available energy stores are lower than normal. This is a perfect time to ramp up your need for energy as your metabolism stimulates hormone-sensitive lipase in adipocytes. Hormone-sensitive lipase is an enzyme that converts triglycerides into free fatty acids that enter the blood and bind to albumin for delivery to exercising muscle (Nadel, Medical Physiology, 2003).

Second, in order to maximize the uptake of free fatty acids and growth hormone release, the finisher should be exhausting. In fact, a finisher should be – dare I say – nauseating. Even though exercise should never make you ill, a fleeting feeling of nausea means you’ve accumulated protons and acidified skeletal muscle to create a strong stimulus for growth hormone release. Put another way: if you do a finisher correctly you won’t want to do anything afterward.

Here are three of my favorite finishers that will fit well into any training plan:

Squat/Curl/Push Press Combo

How to do it: while standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging at sides, with your feet shoulder width apart. Push your hips back and squat down until the dumbbells are at mid-shin level on the outside of your legs. Stand as you simultaneously curl the dumbbells. At the top position of the curl, press the dumbbells overhead using leg drive. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.

Duration: perform as many fast reps as possible for two minutes straight. Then rest for one minute and repeat another two-minute set with lighter weights.

Progression: make a note of how many reps you achieve in each two-minute set with a specific weight. Aim to increase the number of total reps in each set for your next workout.

Kettlebell Swing/Clap Push-up Combo

How to do it: start with 20 explosive KB swings, then immediately drop to the ground and do 10 clap push-ups. Next do 18 swings and 9 clap push-ups, followed by 16 swings and 8 clap push-ups. Continue with this sequence until you reach two swings and one clap push-up. Rest for 60 seconds, then do another sequence where you start at 10 swings and 5 clap push-ups and continue until you reach two swings and one clap push-up.

Progression: reduce the 60 seconds rest period by five seconds every other workout. Work your way down to 10 seconds of rest.

Goblet Squat/Pull-up Combo

How to do it: start with 20 goblet squats, then immediately do 10 pull-ups. Next do 18 goblet squats and 9 pull-ups, followed by 16 squats and 8 pull-ups. Continue with this sequence until you reach two squats and one pull-up. Rest for 60 seconds, then do another sequence where you start at 10 squats and 5 pull-ups and continue until you reach two squats and one pull-up.

Progression: reduce the 60 seconds rest period by five seconds every other workout. Work your way down to 10 seconds of rest.

There are no stringent rules for creating a finisher workout. For example, if you don’t have the strength to do that many pull-ups you can reduce the reps to match your strength levels. The key is to keep moving quickly between exercises for a few minutes straight to induce a full-body training effect.

In terms of frequency, these finishers can be performed 3-4 times per week or however best fits your training schedule.

It’s imperative that you move through the finisher workouts as fast as possible in order to maximize the metabolic cost of the session. These finishers are also excellent as stand-alone, extra workouts to increase your weekly training frequency.

Stay Focused,


6 thoughts on “3 Finishers for Fat Loss

  1. Great article. Any suggestions for garage gym rat who lacks kettle balls? Same things with a barbell?

    CW: Yes, you can swing a heavy DB instead of a KB. If a barbell is your only option, do explosive Romanian deadlifts since it’s a similar hip hinge.

  2. Could these be used for the HIIT workouts in the get lean section of Huge in a Hurry?

    CW: Yes, it can take the place of traditional HIIT work. But sprints are important so don’t omit them altogether.

  3. Those look very effective. But there is no way I could do as many pull-ups as would be necessary to complete that last one… Let alone with that little rest between sets.

    CW: Modify the numbers to match your strength levels. So start with 20 squats and 5 pull-ups, for example and decrease from there. The numbers aren’t set in stone. What’s important is to transition between the two moves without rest for a few minutes straight. You could even do 1-2 pull-ups at a time.

  4. Thanks for the info Chad on some options.

    Do you think the increased GH release adds up to much additional fat burning effect? Just curious as I have my doubts about acute hormone changes with exercise in general.

    Thanks again!
    Mike t Nelson

    CW: It might not make a huge difference, but it can only help. The overall benefit of the finishers doesn’t hinge on GH production since the jury’s still out regarding how much it can actually increase during a workout.

  5. Great stuff Chad-I like to use kettlebell complex doing 3 double cleans-3 double squats and three double presses.Takes about 30 seconds.rest for 30 seconds and repeat up to 10 to 12 mins

  6. Chad – How many times a week do you recommend using these for somebody lifting 4 days per week plus a day of sprints/sled work? Thanks again.

    CW: I recommend 3-4x/week, but keep in mind that sled work and sprints are also great finishers. No need to double up everything. Use these finishers when you get bored with the other stuff.

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