Workout Finishers: A Training Trick to Maximize Your Results by Chad Howse | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Workout Finishers: A Training Trick to Maximize Your Results by Chad Howse

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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Whether your goal is to burn fat or build lean muscle, workout finishers are an effective technique that will help you maximize your results.

The purpose of the fat loss finisher differs from that of the muscle-building finisher. While the goal of building lean muscle is to break down the muscle as much as possible, then repair it through proper recovery, the goal of the fat loss finisher is to have a lasting positive effect on your metabolism.

Incorporating fat loss finishers to the end of an intense workout can help boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours AFTER you’ve finished training. The trick lies in how you set up the various finishers.

For building muscle, you’ll focus on that one muscle you want to develop. For fat loss, combining muscle groups can help us burn more calories within a set.

Rotating from upper to lower body exercises creates an even greater metabolic effect due to your blood having to travel from one muscle group in your upper body to another in your lower body. That ‘traveling’ that the blood has to do, burns more calories.

Below, you’ll be given examples of how to set up both finishers to achieve maximal results. The great thing about a finisher is that you can add it to your existing program to give it a bit of a ‘kick start’ if you’re experiencing a plateau, or not getting the results you want.

Finishers for Building Lean Muscle

The majority of hypertrophy workouts focus on time under tension, or the hypertrophy rep range of 8-12 reps – a rep range that most personal trainers blindly stick to. However, muscle gains occur within the rep range you aren’t doing.

That is, we need variation in our cadences, as well as within our rep counts to more effectively break down muscle, see real gains, and breakthrough plateaus. To see consistent gains is the goal of every trainee. To accomplish this, we need rep variation – this is where the muscle finisher is so effective.

Muscle finishers are done at extremely high reps, low sets, and fast cadences – a cadence being the tempo at which you perform the exercise. The goal is to bring more blood flow to the muscle, creating more muscle tears, and elevating human growth hormone and lactic acid levels, resulting in greater muscle damage.

For the muscle-building finishers, simply choose a muscle group you want to improve. Pick two or three of your favorite exercises – ones that haven’t been done during the workout already – and perform them consecutively.

A Shoulder Finisher, for example:

A1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
A2. Rear Delt Lateral Raise
1 set of 30 reps each

Do 30 reps of the first, take a minimal rest period, and then perform 30 reps of the second exercise.

A Biceps Finisher:

Barbell curl

Perform a set of 20 reps, rest 20 seconds, then perform a set of 18 reps, rest 18 seconds.

Continue this trend for 16, 14, 12, and 10 reps, resting for the coinciding rest period.

It’s a great way to deplete the biceps after an intense workout.

Fat Loss Finisher

The fat loss finisher is structured differently. Rather than focusing on isolation exercises to develop a single muscle, you’ll focus on compound exercises of bigger muscle groups. This will help you burn more calories in less time.

Here’s an example of a fat loss circuit or ‘set’.

A1. Push-ups
A2. Squat Jumps
A3. Mountain Climbers
2 sets of 20 reps each
Rest: 30 seconds after the entire set is completed.

The key with fat loss finishers is to make them as intense as possible. You can add exercises like high knees sprints, skipping, or mountain-climbers to add a cardio component to the set that will elevate your heart rate even further. If you have a heavy bag, you could try adding heavy bag intervals into the set.

The Gist of the Finisher

Fat loss or muscle-building workouts don’t need to be long. 45-minutes is ideal for either goal. This will inhibit the release of cortisol – the muscle-burning, bone-decaying hormone that you release at around the 60-minute mark of an intense workout.

Finishers aren’t meant to extend a workout to exceed these parameters, rather, ensure that we’re getting the results we want to get WITHIN these parameters.

A workout finisher is a great way to end a workout on a high. It’s our fallback. Our guarantee should our workout prior to the finisher be an epic fail. would like to thank Chad Howse for his insight on workout finishers. What about you? Have you tried any workout finishers before? Are you going to give these a shot? There’s only one way to find out if they can work for you!

Check out Chad’s website at for more great advice to fuel your workouts. Also, you can follow Chad on Twitter or check out his Facebook page for more of his tips and tricks.

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