How to Choose the Right Workout Finisher

I am now back on a total body workout with a metabolic finisher after doing an upper lower-split program for 3 weeks. I will explain to you how I chose the right metabolic finisher in just a little bit, but first I’m going to put together a nice hot cup of Apple Cider. You didn’t even realize I stepped away did you? The internet is ah-mazing!

Anyway, since I’m on a total body program 3 times a week, I chose a metabolic finisher that uses all the major muscle groups. I guess you can call it a total body metabolic finisher, but that is a lot of words. Finishers are getting a lot of buzz in the industry lately, and they should because they work.

As you know, a metabolic finisher is a replacement for interval training and it uses incomplete recovery using short rest periods and most of the time, it uses all the major muscle groups. However, there are some finishers, at least when I write them, that focus a little more on the upper body or lower body. This brings up 2 questions:

1. How do I choose the right metabolic finisher based on the program I’m on for fat loss?
2. Seriously, how many licks of a tootsie roll pop does it take to get to the tootsie roll of tootsie roll pop?

Keep in mind that the second question isn’t really that important, but was inspired by a t-shirt I saw at Target a few nights ago. That same shirt also inspired me to type this sentence as well as the last question. So, let’s forget about that and focus on number one:

How do you choose the right metabolic finisher?

Since I’m a TT trainer and I train myself as well as my clients of one of two ways of working out (total body or upper/lower split), that is how I will explain how to choose the right finisher. Let’s look at one a time:

Choosing a Finisher on a Total Body Program

If you’re on a total body workout 3 days a week, I would recommend a finisher that focuses on all major muscle groups. For instance, after your workout on Monday, you could do the “It’s Complexicated” finisher, which is a barbell circuit of Front Squats, Rows, Romanian Deadlifts and Military Presses. This hits all major muscle groups without over-stressing what you accomplished in your workout (just don’t add weight to the bar).

Another good fit after a total body workout, especially if you are tight on time, is the Burpee/Chin-up combo. This is how that works:

Do the following as shown:

Burpee/Chin-up Combo (8), rest 40 secs
Burpee/Chin-up Combo (7), rest 40 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (6), rest 30 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (5), rest 30 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (4), rest 20 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (3), rest 20 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (2), rest 10 secs
Burpee Chin-up Combo (1), smile and have a protein shake

You can see the Burpee/Chin-up Combo here:

This finisher takes just a few minutes, but you’ll see why it is so effective. You’ll be spent, and it’s a great metabolic finisher to choose when you don’t have much time. It also hits a lot of muscle. Boom goes the efficiency dynamite yet again.

This is why it is so important to plan your workouts just like your nutrition. If you know you will be tight on time after a total body workout, then you need to have a finisher in place that you know takes just a few minutes.

So to wrap it up – if you’re using 3 total body workouts per week, then choose a finisher based on time allowed and that hits your upper and lower body to compliment what you accomplished in the main workout, which was a good workout and getting shot down by the hottie on the treadmill. Yep, I saw that… and I typed it. And there’s nothing you can do about it – it’s my article and I can do what I want.

What about metabolic total body workouts?

If you’re performing a true metabolic workout, then you honestly don’t need a metabolic finisher. The intensity needed to perform that type of workout cannot be sustained long enough to perform a finisher on top of that. It’s kind of like when people say they did intervals for an hour… no you didn’t. Your intensity wasn’t high enough if you did intervals for an hour. That’s a whole new article, and thank you for the idea! (not you, I’m talking to my own head).

Choosing a Finisher on an Upper/Lower Split Program

You can still use a metabolic finisher, even when you are on an upper/lower split program. This where you will need to choose wisely. Let’s say you are on a program like this:

Mon: Upper body
Tue: Lower body
Wed: Off
Thu: Upper body
Fri: Lower body

This is where it comes to your fitness level really. If you find yourself being able to recover really well between workouts, then you could actually choose a metabolic finisher that focuses more on the lower body after an upper body workout. This will target all muscle groups between the main workout and the finisher. For example, after your upper body workout, you could do the following finisher:

The “Crossing Over to Stir the Pot” Finisher

Do the following superset 4 times, resting for 30 seconds between supersets
1A) Bodyweight Cross-Over Step-up (10 ea)
1B) Stir the Pot Exercise (5 in ea. direction)

Cross-Over Step-up =>
Stir-the-Pot =>

As you can see, you will only be using bodyweight, so it’s not too much volume. This will allow you the intensity needed for your lower body workout the next day.

Another option, if you’re concerned for your recovery of your lower body, is to use a finisher that focuses on the upper body. This will add more volume to your upper body workout, but keep in mind that you will have 2 days of rest in between. Everyone is different. An upper body focused finisher could be a superset with little rest of push-ups and inverted rows.

Mike, you need to wrap this up. You’re getting long-winded. I love it when my head takes over and types stuff like that. It’s freaky, but cool.

Needless to say, you can apply the same principles to choosing a finisher after a lower body workout. Just always take your fitness level and recovery ability into account. Remember the 3 rules on choosing the finisher:

1. Time
2. Fitness level
3. Recovery ability

So, I hope this helps you out when you need to choose the right metabolic finisher after your workout. If not, well, that’s over 1,000 words I will never get back… kinda’ like watching Transformers 2. That’s 90 minutes of my life I won’t get back. Looky there, I’m rambling again.

metabolic finishersFinish Strong,
Mike Whitfield
Certified Turbulence Trainer

<—- Click here for 40 Metabolic Workout Finishers

11 Responses to “How to Choose the Right Workout Finisher”

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Mike,

    thanks for this info, some good ideas.

    One thing i would disagree with though is your comment regarding interval training. Surely you mean to say that no one can be doing HIIT for an hour? Interval training doesn’t have to be HIIT, but it seems that now days with it’s rise in poularity, and justifiably so, interval training has become synomonous with and hi -jacked by the concept of HIIT when in fact HIIT is not suitable for everyone and longer duration lower intensity aerobic intervals may be more suitable for certain populations. And these type of intervals can certainly be performed for an hour and with benefit to the client before even considering any type of shorter duaration HIIT stuff. I certainly would not reccomend high intensity intervals for any begginer client but would still use interval training with themand forms of meatabolic conditioning albeit at a reduced intensity. I think it’s important to pointthis out to people rather than letting them believe that interval training has just been discovered and the only way to do it and benefit from it is to do it for short durations and high intensity

    • Mike says:

      Hey Chris, from the experience with my clients, the best results come down to quality versus quantity. The reason I don’t recommend an hour of intervals or any cardio is because it can lead to overuse injuries, especially with overweight individuals. What I do with my beginners on intervals is reduce the intensity.

      For example, instead of performing an interval at a 9/10 intensity, I will have them do it at a 7/10. It’s not the intensity of a fitness veteran, but it would certainly provide enough of a stimulus for a beginner to reap benefits such as fat loss. A 7/10 for a beginner can certainly reap the rewards as if they are doing a 9/10.

      For metabolic conditioning, I simply substitute exercises appropriate for their level. Jump squats for a very overweight individual is asking for injury. I simply replace it with a total body extension. They still reap the benefits of metabolic conditioning and finishers, but without having to hurt themselves.

      Thanks for the feedback,

  2. Charles Gauci says:

    Hi Craig,

    I regularly read your articles and e-mails. The metabolic finishers are really great. Im using them instaed of doing cardio after weight training. At the gym, when I started doing them, all where eyes on me and all came to ask why and for what.
    I do:
    a- 1min 30sec skipping/jumping
    b- 15 Burpees
    c- 10/15 swings with 12.5/ 15k dumdbell
    d- leg cross over to elbow(i call it, as i dont know the ex title- push up position)for abs
    e- 1 min sprint on the spot

    I try to repeat them between 3 and 5 times, according strenghth and exhaustion.I have found them really great to get ripped and defined combined with diet and to push my limits.

    My only problem is that I have some loose skin on my lower abs and I need to get rid of it. I cannot find a way to improve this area. With finishers it improved a bit. I m 33” waist, 78/79 k total weight, 5′ 11” tall, and drink 2 lts water daily.

    Do you have any suggestions? Gym instructer said to be patient. HELP really needed.


    • Mike says:

      Hey Charles, I can vouch for the gym instructor. Do be patient. I simply ate cleaner and kept exercising using TT style of workouts. Slowly, over time, my skin has gotten tighter. It’s still not where I want it, but it has improved over the last couple of years by incorporating a better diet. Always look at where you came from while you improve.

      Keep working hard,

  3. Caroline says:

    Hey Mike,
    I have been using the TT in a class that I teach 3 days a week. We are limited to free weights, no barbells. I currently do a leg,back,bicep one day and a chest shoulder triceps the other day. So one week we will hit a group twice and the next week it will be the other group twice. What do you think of this kind of split for a three/times a week work out? (Core work outs are added to both) And, should we do a finisher after the workout or can we save that for the other off days. I love teaching the class because it gets my butt there whether i feel like it or not. I just need to get it straight in my own mind what the plan for the week is.

    Thanks for the tips.

    • Mike says:

      Hey Caroline, great question. What I do with my clients is either do a total body workout 3 days a week or an upper/lower split. If I do a split, it would look like this:

      Mon – Upper
      Wed – Lower
      Fri – Upper
      Then next week, it looks like this
      Mon – Lower
      Wed – Upper
      Fri – Lower

      The lower body workouts typically superset leg work with core work. We do finishers at the end of every workout, unless there was a lot of conditioning in the program itself. I wouldn’t do finishers on off days, as they are to compliment a main program. On off days, I would stick with staying active or doing interval work.

      Hope this helps,

  4. Justin says:

    hello all;
    I’m currently doing the “original tt for fat loss” program and I am on week 3. I keep hearing about different programs throughout the forums or upper and lower splits. I’m trying to lose as much fat as possible within the next 14 weeks. I’m 5’7″ at 210lbs now. when I first started I was roughly 230-235. I’ve noticed my frame shrinking due different clothes fitting and now I’m starting to notice more of the sub-fat receding. my diet is CLEAN! the only thing that is processed in my diet is rice or almond milk. I’ve been using brendan braziers whole food meal replacement, I eat tons of veg, fresh fruit, sprouted grains and protein comes from natural sources. I’m also using brendan braziers sports protein powders and recovery powders. all natural sources, no added sugar. I do have about 6 cups of coffee a week with one teaspoon of cane sugar. that would be the only bit of sugar that I have other than my servings of fruit.
    With the original tt fat loss program would it be more beneficial to do some workout finishers after the workout days instead of the interval training?
    and for the days off it says to do some low impact activity for 30min. could I be doing some sort of full bodyweight workout instead? I’m trying to look my best before I head down to Punta cana for a wedding and was just a victim of long cardio for too long. I wish I would have found this site earlier. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you
    Justin R.

    • workoutm says:

      Hi Justin, just stick to the original TT program. It has enough training in there for you. When you are done with that you can move on to something that integrates with finishers a little better.


  5. Stephanie says:

    I am doing your 24/7 fatloss workout, the advanced one to be precise. Should I add workout finishers after my weight training on those three days. An which one workout finishers would you suggest in this case please?


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