What is a Metabolic Finisher?

What is a Metabolic Finisher?

A metabolic finisher is a combination of interval training and metabolic resistance training. It’s like peanut butter and jelly – it’s THAT awesome.

Metabolic finishers (also known as workout finishers) are designed to complement and enhance your main strength training program. Finishers typically last anywhere between 1 minute to 10 minutes, depending on exercises, reps, sets and the setup.

Can a finisher really last only one minute? You tell me. Do as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds, followed immediately by as many decline close-grip pushups as possible in 30 seconds. That should get your shirt wet.

Metabolic finishers have actually been used for years, but have made a splash in the fitness world recently. This is due to the physical and mental challenges they bring, adding a whole new dynamic to your workouts, as well as the faster results you get from them. The investment of time and effort made to complete one is worth it due to the spike in metabolic rate they give you. You’ll burn fat for hours in your sleep. And you know what they say – “Burning fat in your sleep is cool.”

What can you expect by incorporating metabolic finishers into your program?

  • Faster fat loss due to the metabolic demand
  • Break a weight loss plateau
  • Improved conditioning – whether you are an athlete trying to improve your reaction time or stamina, or you’re tired of panting when you go up and down the stairs

Can I Use Metabolic Finishers as My Main Workout?

The fast answer – no. Here’s why – the metabolic finisher is designed to enhance your main workout, not replace it. I like analogies, so let’s use one. I like omelets (who doesn’t?). The eggs of your omelet are your main workout program. It’s the foundation. The metabolic finisher is the combination of the cheese, mushrooms and seasonings. They simply make the omelet better. That’s exactly how metabolic finishers work.

An Example of a Metabolic Finisher

This is one of my favorite finishers and I’m sure you will “like” it, too. At the end your next workout, try this finisher…

The Decline of the Bulgarians

I love the names of my finishers. Anyway, perform the following superset, resting as little as possible. In the first superset, you will perform 8 reps. In the next superset, you will perform 7 reps. Continue in this fashion until you complete 1 rep of each exercise. For an added challenge, time yourself and record it. The next time you perform this finisher, try to beat your previous time.

1A) Bulgarian Squat Jumps (8 per leg, 7 per leg, etc. down to 1 per leg)

1B) Decline Pushups (8, 7, etc. down to 1)


Congrats. You just burned a ton of calories in a very short amount of time. This is the whole idea behind metabolic finishers. By combining the short rest periods and the calorie-expensive moves like pushups and single leg jumps, you burn an amazing amount of calories in a very short amount of time.


Metabolic Finishers Compared to Steady-State Cardio

It’s actually mind numbing to watch you hop on the treadmill, elliptical , or any other cardio equipment for 30, 40, 60 minutes or more. Unfortunately, this can actually help you gain weight.


Yeah I know, that sounds ridiculous. That’s why I ‘m going to talk about this study…


According to the International Journal of Obesity (32: 177-184, 2008), you can actually gain weight by performing too much cardiovascular exercise. In this study, some people in the group ate an average of an additional 268 calories per day.


That’s the average. So, let’s say you hop on the treadmill and watched that one episode of “Three’s Company” where something was misunderstood and they had to hide something (you know… like all the other episodes). Let’s say your calorie meter on the treadmill shows that you burned 200 calories, but because of the cardio increasing your appetite, you eat an additional 300 calories that day. That is a surplus of 100 calories. If you eat an additional 100 calories per week, 5 days per week, that is an additional 2,000 calories per month. Are you like … visual? No problem – here you go…


100 calories per day X 5 days per week = 500.

500 X 4 (4 weeks in a month) = 2,000.


Oh yeah, and don’t forget cardio is really boring. Seriously, the variety of reps, sets and exercises found in metabolic finishers add a whole new dynamic to your workouts compared to the monotonous cardio.


When performing cardio, it typically involves the same repetition over and over for the same muscle group, leading to overuse injuries. Think about it – when you use running or biking for your cardio, your legs do all the work. Metabolic finishers use many muscle groups, therefore exerting the energy throughout the entire body.


Lastly, EPOC (aka the “afterburn”) has been proven to be very little after steady state cardio, however research does prove to us that using the style of training with metabolic finishers has a much higher EPOC, especially compared to steady-state cardio.


What Equipment is Used with Metabolic Finishers

The possibilities are endless. Many well written and effective metabolic finishers can involve just using your own bodyweight. That means you can do them anywhere without having to hunt down any equipment. Finishers can also involve dumbbells, stability balls, kettlebells, barbells and more. The great thing is that you can substitute certain exercises to cater to what you have available. My favorite metabolic finishers usually involve a combination of dumbbells and bodyweight exercises. Thanks to the variety of reps, sets, and rest periods, you can virtually use a new finisher every time you work out.


The Metabolic Finisher Advantage

Start using metabolic finishers with your main workout program, and you’ll be busting through a plateau and getting shredded in no time… just by investing some solid effort and a little bit of time. Brace yourself though – the metabolic finisher advantage takes a concentrated effort and focus. Only the few are willing to put in that kind of effort, and if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.


Finish Strong,

Mikey, CFNC, CTT


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