The Ultimate Finishers Exercise Substitution List


“Yo Mikey, my knees hurt.  I can’t do jump squats – any suggestions?”, “I don’t have a dumbbell.  Any bodyweight exercises I can do instead?” and “Every day, I am getting smarter… simply by just knowing you.  Thanks for being awesome” are things I get emailed all the time.

Ha – I’m totally lying about the last one.  There, I admitted it.

This is something that has been long overdue… just like the video cassette of “Encino Man” I rented from Blockbuster in the early 1990’s (and I still have – please do not judge).

I’m going to put together the “Ultimate Metabolic Workout Finishers Substitution List”, so you, the fanatic of using finishers in your workouts, can have a “go-to” list so you can create the best finisher based on your particular fitness level.

This is something you can print and put inside a cool-looking frame, matted and color-coordinated.

Or… just printed.  Whatever.

Leg Exercise Substitutions:

Jump Squats – One of my favorite “finisher” moves I write in, however I know that sometimes this isn’t the best choice for some depending on fitness level, etc., etc.  Here are some moves you can put in the place of jump squats:

– Bodyweight Squats

– Total Body Extensions – don’t underestimate the power of this low-impact move.  If you do 3, sure… no big deal.  If you start stringing 10 or more? … you will start to feel the cardio system working.  This is when you dip into a partial squat, bringing your arms behind you, and then extend your arms above your head in one motion.  For extra credit, you can go up on your toes.














– Vertical Jump and Stick – this is perfect for those that can’t knock out a lot of jump squats in a certain time frame.  For example, if I write jump squats for 30 seconds and you can’t do those that long, plug in Jump and Sticks.  This is when you do a jump squat, followed by holding the squat position for a couple of seconds.

Burpees – a staple in many finishers – here are some moves you can sub for that one…

– Total Body Extension

– Bodyweight Squat

– And don’t forget – you can remove the pushup and/or jump from the burpee to fit your level

Substitutions for Lunges – for those with nagging knee problems – FIRST, see a specialist.  With that being said, here are some knee-friendly moves to replace the lunge in your finisher:

– 1-Legged Hip Extension

– Hip Extensions

– Hip Extensions with your feet on a stability ball or bench

Back Exercise Substitutions:

Pull-ups – Honestly?  I have a tough time with these myself.  If you are serious about increasing your pull-up/chin-up/pushup numbers, check out my friend Shawna’s program, “Challenge Workouts“.  When you do them, they build the ultimate athletic-looking body.  But we all can’t perform Pull-ups due to lack of equipment, fitness level and other things.  So, here are some moves you can do to replace the pull-ups:

– Assisted Pull-up

– DB Row

– Barbell Row

– Inverted Row (overhand grip)

Inverted Row

Chin-ups – use the same list above, except for the inverted row – use an underhand grip

Chest Exercise Substitutions – When it comes to writing finishers, it’s all about the pushups… about a billion varieties.  I’ll throw in Spiderman Pushups, Decline Pushups, Elevated Pushups and more.

But here are a few pushups substitutions:

– Incline Pushups – when you raise a smith bar or use a bench/platform to do pushups.  The higher your hands are set, the easier it is.

– Kneeling Pushups

– Normal Pushups (to replace the crazy ones)

So, when a finisher calls for my crazy ones (like the Decline Spiderman Pushup… yeah, seriously) than don’t hesitate to adjust it to your fitness level.  For example, if a finisher calls for the Spiderman Pushup (8/side), you can perform 16 kneeling or incline pushups.

That’s totally cool – we are all different.

For bodyweight dips – you can sub for close-grip pushups.

Ab Exercise Substitutions

Stability Ball Jackknife – you can do the stability ball rollout

Hanging Leg Raise – you can do a knee raise (with your legs bent – it makes it easier)

Plank variations – you can do a kneeling plank

Ab Wheel Rollout – you can do the stability ball rollout

So, let’s do a cool neat little “Cheat Sheet”:

Jump Squats – Total Body Extensions, Bodyweight Squats, Vertical Jump and Stick

Burpees – Take out the jump/pushup, Total Body Extension, Bodyweight Squat,

Lunges – 1-Leg Hip Extensions, Hip Extensions, Hip Extensions w/Feet on a Bench or Stability Ball

Pullups – Assisted Pullups, DB Row, Barbell Row, Inverted Row (overhand grip)

Chinups – Same as above, except for the inverted row, use an underhand grip

Pushups (especially the crazy ones) – Kneeling Pushups, Incline Pushups, Normal Pushups

Stability Ball Jackknife – Stability Ball Rollout

Hanging Leg Raise – Hanging Knee Raise or Rollout

Plank Variations – Kneeling Plank or Normal Plank for the harder ones

Ab Wheel Rollout – Stability Ball Rollout

Alright, that should be enough to keep you busy for a while.  Don’t be afraid of doing a finisher – use substitution exercises and finish your workouts strong,

Mikey, CTT

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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)

  1. Jose
    12 years ago

    Excellent article Mikey. To replace lunges, I also use the anterior reach lunge, which is more hip dominant and resembles the lunge movement.

    Have a good day!

    • Mikey
      12 years ago

      Thanks Jose – Have an awesome day yourself!

  2. Sandra
    12 years ago

    Thanks Mike. I, too, have knee problems and trouble doing squats. Thanks for the alternative.

    • Mikey
      12 years ago

      Happy to help Sandra! Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Jeff
    12 years ago

    This is great!
    now I will put some variety into my workouts!

    • Mikey
      12 years ago

      Awesome to hear Jeff – thanks man! Enjoy your workouts – that’s what I’m here for.