How to Choose the Right Finisher

Choose the Right Finisher, Mmmm K?

“How do I know which finisher to choose?”

“Should I go with a upper/lower/total body finisher?”

“How many finishers can I do per week?”

Grab a cup of Java and gather round kids. We’re going to sit and learn.

We have some new kids on the block, too. Oh, oh, oh, oh, we’re hangin’ tough, too.

Ha, I’m hilarious. No? OK.


Anyway, let’s chat about how to choose the right finisher. I wrote an article on this for Craig Ballantyne’s site many, many months ago, but this is the new and revised edition since I’ve been getting some more questions about it.

How to Choose the Right Metabolic Finisher with a Fat Loss Workout

First, fully understand what exactly is a metabolic finisher. I explain that here.

If you don’t want to clicky wicky, than I’ll give you the elevator answer. Metabolic Finishers (notice how I capitalize the first letter of each word because I believe they are THAT cool) are a way to replace intervals or cardio after your workout.

In other words, instead of hitting the treadmill, elliptical or bike after your workout for cardio or intervals, you would perform a finisher.

They are much shorter than cardio (even intervals), however, they are more intense. So, now that we’re caught up on what is a metabolic finisher, let’s dig in on how to choose the right one.

Here is the good news – choosing one is easier than you think. Let’s say you are on a 3-day per week fat loss workout. You can perform just about any finisher after each workout. That’s right, it’s that easy. The reason I say “just about” is because of this…

If your workout is already 45 minutes or so, than choose a shorter finisher. There is no reason you can’t get in and out of the gym in an hour including warm-up and cool-down. So, if your main workout lasts 45 minutes, than choose a shorter finisher, like “The Sweet and Short Super Star” finisher in the main manual where you perform Star Jumps, which lasts 3 minutes.

Mike? What the freaky-doo is a Star Jump?

Ha, you said “freaky-doo” imaginary person. Well played. Watch me act like an idiot and perform Star Jumps below:

I have a lot of the exercises in the manual on my Youtube channel, which will help you out.

Now, if your workout is shorter, like 30-35 minutes, than you can certainly choose a longer finisher. My metabolic resistance training programs typically last around 35 minutes. That’s just how I roll.

I think the ultimate schedule looks like this, but that’s just me:

5 Minutes – Warm up using bodyweight exercises

30 Minutes – Metabolic Resistance Training

3-8 Minutes – Metabolic Finisher

3 Seconds – Giving yourself a fist bump in front of the mirror

By the way, you do have a structured program for your main metabolic resistance training program right? Going in blind to your gym or basement is like going in blind. Sure, that doesn’t make sense, but neither does you not having a program. I use Turbulence Training principles myself and with my clients. You can try it for $1 right here.

Things to Keep in Mind

Your main workout is your foundation. So, the first week you perform finishers, than be sure to reduce the number of circuits or supersets you perform so your body can get acclimated to that kind of chaos and can recover between workouts. I actually suggest the same when starting a new workout program.

How to Choose the Right Finisher on a Muscle-Building Program

Are you a hard-gainer? Than, I would skip the finishers all together if you’re trying to put on muscle.

However, if you’re like me and tend to put on some belly fat when trying to put on muscle, than you need to incorporate finishers to keep the fat at bay. This takes some experimentation.

If you EASILY put on fat when putting on muscle, than incorporate finishers 3-4 times a week while using your muscle-building program. If you don’t put on fat easily, than you can do finishers twice per week.

Take measurements every 2 weeks to really get “in tune” with what works for you. Usually, 3 finishers per week is just about right for those wanting to gain muscle and keep the fat at bay.

How to Choose a Finisher on a Split Program

We having fun kids? Yayz! Alright, if you’re on a upper/lower split, this is where it can get tricky. This really comes down to your recovery ability. So, let’s say you’re on a 4-day per week fat loss program like this:

 Mon – Lower

Tue – Upper

Wed – BINGO with Grandma

Thu– Lower

Fri – Upper

Now most of my finishers are total body (that’s the idea), but I do have some that are upper or lower body focused. I like to work the opposite muscles of the main program as my finisher, and that’s what I like to do with my clients.


So, after your lower body workout, you would perform an upper body focused finisher. After your upper body workout, you would perform a lower body finisher.

HOWEVER (I capitalized that word because it’s THAT important), if you find yourself sluggish in your main workout, than you need to reduce the intensity of the finisher by reducing the number of rounds or reps, etc., etc.

BUT, you can also work the same muscle group in the finisher as your main workout because you won’t be hitting that muscle group again until 2 days later. So, if you do a lower body workout, you can finish it off with prisoner squats, burpees, bodyweight lunges, etc., etc.

Doing an upper body workout? Cool. Then you can finish it off with pushups, inverted rows, high rep db rows, etc., etc.

Bonus tip – if you’re trying to pack on lean muscle, than a good rule of thumb is to incorporate finishers that focus on the same muscle group as your main workout in order to produce more volume, therefore stimulating growth. Make sense?

Considering you have 2 days to recover, you should be fine. But always listen to your body, and as always, reduce the intensity the first week you perform finishers.

 Summing it Up

If your goal is fat loss, than a finisher that hits most, if not all of the body are the best. Most of the finishes I write hit the total body. So if you want to lose belly fat, the choice is pretty easy – pick one and go with it. Leave it all on your floor.

Nah, I can’t leave it at just that. Let’s do a fancy chart or something. Yeah? Yeah.

Choosing the Right Finisher on a Fat Loss Program – 3-4 times a week after your main workout. The first week, reduce the intensity. Simply pick one. Yep, it’s that easy.

Bonus tip – Yes, you can pick a new one at each workout.

Choosing the Right Finisher on a Muscle-Building Workout – If trying to gain muscle fast, but without the belly fat, try using finishers just twice a week, then take measurements after 2 weeks. Adjust from there.

Choosing the Right Finisher on a Split Program – This takes tweaking. Try using opposing muscle groups when choosing a finisher if you’re trying to lose fat. So if you perform a lower body workout, choose an upper body finisher and vice versa. Struggling through your workouts? Reduce the intensity of the finisher.

If you’re on a split program trying to gain muscle, than use a finisher hitting the same muscles you worked in your main workout.

One More Bonus Tip

How many times a week can I do finishers? – that’s a question I’ve been getting this week. I wouldn’t perform finishers more than 4 times a week.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is an epic post of how to choose the right finisher.

Alright, it’s time to get pumped up for “Super Finishers”. Good times include new exercises like the Batman Lunge and the Hulk Jump.

Boom goes the creative dynamite.

Finish strong,

Mikey, CTT


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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Frank A
    11 years ago

    Hey Mikey! Nice article. When will the new manuals be available?

    • Mike Whitfield
      11 years ago

      These are both coming out this week. Stay tuned 🙂