By Lindsay Cappotelli – MuscleTech® Athlete
For those who despise slow, steady state cardio but want to stay lean and fit, don’t despair; there is hope! Fortunately, for the cardio haters out there, there are other ways to stay lean without having to spend hours on the elliptical. One of those ways is to incorporate “finishers” into your workouts.
A finisher is simply a short (anywhere from 3–10 minutes) high-intensity exercise or circuit that you do at the end of a strength–training workout. Adding in a finisher 2–3 times a week can be all you need to get and stay lean without losing your hard-earned muscle doing hours of boring cardio. Who has time for that? And unlike steady state cardio, short, high-intensity workouts also have the advantage of increasing your metabolism so that you continue burning calories even after you’ve finished your workout.
There are endless combinations that can be used as finishers, but here are some of my favorites:
Prowler or sled pushes or drags:
Load up a sled and push or drag it for anywhere from 10–20 seconds, then rest for 30–60 seconds and repeat 5–10 times.
(20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes). You can use just one exercise for the entire time, or you could pair two exercises and alternate between the two. One example would be lunge jumps paired with mountain climbers. Don’t be deceived by the short time – this could be the longest 4 minutes of your life!
5 minute “amraps”:
Choose two or three exercises for a set number of reps (10–15) and try to get in as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes. For example, you could do 10 goblet squats, followed by 10 kettlebell swings. Take note of how many rounds you were able to get and try to beat it next time!
There are many ways to do these, but one example would be to choose 2–3 exercises and start with one rep of each, then add a rep each round until you get all the way up to 10. Or you could start at 10 and work your way down to one. Example: 10 push-ups, 10 squat jumps, 9 push-ups, 9 squat jumps, and so on.
These are great not only for conditioning, but also for building grip strength, traps and the core. Simply grab the heaviest dumbbells or kettlebells you can and walk for 30–60 seconds, or as far as you can go before your grip gives out. Rest for 30–60 seconds and repeat for 2–4 sets. You could also pair them with another exercise or in a circuit with bear crawls, burpees, jump rope or battle ropes for a killer fat-burning circuit!
(Preferably on a hill or incline on a treadmill): Run for 8–12 seconds as fast as you can, rest for 45–60 seconds and repeat 6–12 times, or for 10–15 minutes.
Go as hard as you can with both arms, or alternating arms, for 15–20 seconds, rest for 30–45 seconds and repeat for 5 rounds. These are also great to add into a circuit with burpees, jump rope, mountain climbers, etc.
Dumbbell or barbell complexes:
Choose 3–5 exercises that you can string together in a circuit without setting the weights down until you’ve completed all reps and sets.
This is a super challenging move that would be a great upper body finisher. Set a timer and do as many as you can in 5–8 minutes, or do a pyramid starting with 8 reps and work your way down to 1, resting as needed.
These are great for finishing off a lower body workout. Go for 4–5 sets of 15–20 reps, or you could do something like 10 kettlebell swings every minute on the minute, for 8–12 minutes.