I often like to finish my workout with some sort of “finisher.” I think a lot of people go wayyy overboard with the whole finisher thing and take it too far, but I like to something brief that gets the heart rate up, partly for conditioning purposes and partly just because it’s fun.
This stuff is supposed to be fun, after all.
To me, the key to a good finisher is choosing something that’s safe and what Alwyn Cosgrove calls “self-limiting,” which basically means that you can’t screw it up too badly because you’’ have to stop before your form can deteriorate too much. When you get tired, there’s going to be a natural tendency for form to go awry, so pick stuff that doesn’t let that happen too much so you don’t get hurt. So basically, deadlifts or Olympic lifts to brutal failure would be a bad choice because there’s a high risk for injury, but something like sleds or the Airdyne bike would be a good choice.
In fact, those are the two I do most often myself.
Trouble is, most good finishers—sleds and the Airdyne included—work the legs a lot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re trying to give your legs a break, such as on an upper body lifting day, it can get tricky because you don’t want to beat your legs up too much so they’ll be fresh for the next lifting session.
Comparatively speaking, there aren’t as many options for upper body finishers: battling ropes can be cool, as can complexes (barbell, dumbbell bodyweight, etc.), but that’s about it.
Add this to the mix—Walking Pushup Slides.
This is a good progression from alligator crawls that will smoke the core, work the upper body, and get the heart rate up quickly—all at the same time. It works well at the end of an upper body workout, or as part of a circuit.
They’re really tough, so you won’t be able to do a ton of reps, meaning you don’t need a super long strip of turf.
Try this: walk as far as you can across the gym. Now turn around and come back. This sounds really easy I bet, but I think you’ll find that the trip back takes 2-3 sets, for a total of 3-4 sets. It’s not as easy as it sounds: trust me.
You can think of it as a static pushup reach combined with an inchworm drill.
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Also, I had a new article go up on T-Nation if you’re interested in checking that out: 8 Practical Tips for Training and Recovery.