Metabolic Finishers Do’s and Don’ts

Earlier this week, I was training a long time client.  As we approached his third circuit, he realized there wasn’t a workout finisher at the end of his program.  “This whole workout is a finisher”, he said.  Then I responded with “Revealed your opinion is” in a Yoda voice.

Revealed your opinion is on finishers

Training with me is good times.

Anyway, he asked me the perfect question – “When do you incorporate finishers and when are they not needed?”.  I’ve answered that question dozens of times and it really depends on your program.

But let’s dig a little deeper.  Let’s figure this thing out so you can have an amazing 7 weeks before Memorial Day without getting burned out and using finishers when they are really not necessary.  I will probably touch on this at the TT Summit, too.  See you there?  I better.

First, you need an understanding of what exactly is a metabolic workout finisher.  And by clicking on the pretty blue words before this, you will gain that understanding…. or “understanding you will gain… yes, mmmm hhhmmm”.

Enough Yoda.

A good rule of thumb is – you use a workout finisher at the end of a strength or metabolic resistance training session.

Yeah, Mikey, But What is Metabolic Resistance Training?

Awesome question imaginary friend that asked that – I will explain that in a full post and thanks for the idea.  In the meantime,  here is a quick explanation.  Metabolic resistance training is using big, compound movements in a non-competing manner with relatively short rest periods.  In other words, doing bicep curls and crunches is not MRT, however a circuit like this is:

1A) Barbell Lunge (8/side)

1B) Pull-ups (2 reps short of failure)

1C) DB Chest Press (12)

That would be the beginning of a MRT workout.  However, you can even use two moves as a metabolic resistance training workout.  So here’s some bonus info – if you only have 10 minutes or so to work out – you can still get the benefits.  If you do a superset of Deadlifts and DB Chest Presses (as many supersets as possible in 10 minutes), you’ve accomplished a MRT workout in just 10 minutes.

You’re welcome.Metabolic Resistance Training

Metabolic resistance training has been around for a while.  Awesome coaches like Craig Ballantyne and Alwyn Cosgrove have been using these workouts with their clients for years, but the coined term is hitting the industry hard lately.

Now that we have a glimpse of what MRT is about, let’s talk about when you can use finishers and when they are really not necessary.

When Finishers Compliment Your Program

If you just put up a solid strength session (typically in the rep range of 6-12 for the most part), than using a finisher at the end of this workout would be beneficial.  You would get the benefits and afterburn of strength training, while getting the benefits of using a finisher to increase your conditioning and bonus fat loss.

So, if you have a circuit of DB Rows, Lunges, Chest Presses (and maybe a little core work), you can plug in a finisher for increased fat burning after your main session.

So, you’re looking at this:


Strength training (the bread and butter of your program)

Metabolic Workout Finisher

That’s when it’s ideal.  Let’s look at an example:

1A) Barbell Bulgarian Squat (8/side)

1B) Pull-ups (2 reps short of failure)

1C) DB Chest Press (10)

Rest one minute and repeat two more times

2A) DB Romanian Deadlift (12)

2B) X-Body Mountain Climber (12/side)

2C) Barbell Military Press (8)

Rest one minute and repeat two more times


Do the following superset 4 times, resting for 20 seconds between supersets

Burpees (8)

KB/DB Swings (20)

fat burning exercises

I like this graphic a lot. It's cool. Therefore, you'll see it a lot.

Sniff, sniff… that’s your fat burning.  Mmmmm, roasted flab.

When Finishers Aren’t Really Necessary

If your program requires a lot of conditioning, than using a finisher isn’t really necessary.  Your nervous system wouldn’t be able to take it and you could find yourself burned out… just like that cool graphic to the left.

For example, let’s say your program looks like this:

1A) Jumping Lunges (10/side)

1B) Chin-ups (12)

1C) Pushups (1 rep short of failure)

1D) Total Body Extensions (20)

1E) Spiderman Climb (15/side)

1F) Shuttle Run (30 secs)

That program requires a lot of conditioning, and a finisher isn’t really necessary.  The finisher is pretty much “blended” into the program itself.

Make sense?

The perfect example is Craig Ballantyne’s MRT workout from May of 2011 (one of the toughest, yet effective workouts I’ve used myself as well as my clients).  That metabolic resistance training program is laid out like this (although, you can play with the days to fit your schedule… simply take a day off after 2 days):

Day 1 Metabolic Resistance Training (you could add a finisher after this workout)

Day 2 Metabolic Conditioning (no finisher necessary – you’ll be toast)

Day 3 – off day

Day 4 – Metabolic Resistance Training (you could add a finisher after this workout)

Day 5 – Metabolic Conditioning (no finisher necessary)

Days 6 and 7 – off day

Hopefully, this clears the confusion on when and when not to use finishers.

One final note – (only because I’ve been asked this) – you also shouldn’t perform a finisher after interval training.  I’ll be politically incorrect here and say that if you have enough gas in the tank to do a finisher after interval training, than your interval training didn’t have the right intensity.

What is the right intensity for interval training Mikey?

Thanks imaginary friend that asked me that.  That’s a good future post.  Thanks for the idea.  Let’s call you Irene.  Thanks Irene.

metabolic finishers

This is a really big chicken talking to a bunch of little chickens. It came up in Google when I plugged in "story time". This is a long caption.

So, let’s gather in a big circle boys and girls.

When is it a good time to use workout finishers in your program?

Answer – After a strength training or metabolic resistance training session.

When can you skip a finisher?

Answer – when your program already has plenty of conditioning or after intervals.

Awesome.  Nice work.

Finish this week strong, and go nail your workout today,

Mikey, CTT