Doing a cardio finisher at the end of your strength training routine is great for fat loss and mental toughness because your energy stores are low (glycogen) and you’ll be training fatigued. But when you switch your emphasis to hypertrophy finishers to bring up a lagging body part, you’ll get improved conditioning, mental toughness, and add flex appeal. Are finishers easy? No but neither is building muscle. So, get your hard hat on and go to work.
Because limiting time, reps and equipment is a great way to build lagging body parts. The limited rest time between exercises and sets increases the metabolic damage and muscle pump to the targeted muscle group to improve hypertrophy potential.
There’s nothing special about the eight minute and eight rep finishers used below. You can change it to five reps five minutes or 10 reps 10 minutes. It depends on how much time you have and how much discomfort you’re willing to endure.
Complete each tri-set as a circuit, resting as little as possible between exercises. Rest 30 seconds at the end of each circuit and do as many rounds as possible within the eight minutes. Adjust the weight used accordingly — good form is still important, especially when you’re fatigued.
The following exercises are suggestions and feel free to substitute in your favorite exercises.
6 Hypertrophy Finishers
Here are six hypertrophy finishers to perform at the end of your training. If you’re doing it right your body part of choice will be finished.
Eight-Minute Legs (Glute Focus)
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1A. Kettlebell swings: 8 reps
1B. Goblet squats: 8 reps
1C. Bodyweight Hip Thrust: 8 reps (pause for a 3-count in the top position)
Why these exercises: Swings and hip thrusts focus on explosive hip extension while the goblet squats give your glutes serious time under tension.
Trainer’s Tip: Use the same kettlebell weight for the swings and squats with minimal rest in between
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Pause for three seconds at the bottom of the goblet squat. Perform bodyweight hip extensions if you find hip thrusts too uncomfortable.
Eight-minute Legs (Quad Focus)
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1A. Goblet Split Squat: 4 reps (each leg)
1B. Offset Kettlebell Front Squat: 4 reps (each arm)
1C. Terminal Knee Extensions (unilateral or bilateral): 8 reps
Why these exercises: The split squat and front squat with the anterior load focuses on the quads more with the terminal knee extensions thrown in for a good quad burn.
Trainer Tip: Set up the band before you start and use the same weight for the split squat and front squat.
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Perform all on one side before moving on to the other side. Each side counts as one round.
Eight-Minute Arms (Triceps Focus)
1A. Overhead Triceps Extensions: 8 reps
1B. Diamond Pushups: 8 reps
1C. Triceps Pushdowns: 8 reps
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Use a slow eccentric (lowering phase) on both the overhead and pushdown to increase your time under tension.
Why these three exercises: The overhead triceps trains the long head of the triceps, the biggest of the three muscles. Diamond pushups focus on the triceps and inner chest and the pushdowns train the lateral and medial head. All three heads of the triceps covered.
Trainer Tip: The overhead and the pushdown can either be done with a band or cable machine. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Eight-Minute Arms (Biceps Focus)
1A. Dumbbell Hammer Curl : 8 reps
1B. Supinated Lat Pulldown: 8 reps
1C. Dumbbell Zottman Curl: 8 reps
Why these three exercises: Training the biceps from different angles and all there functions (elbow flexor, supination, and pronation) allows for greater growth.
Trainer Tip: Any two handed row variation that trains the biceps heavy will work here.
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Don’t be afraid to reduce the weight when your biceps get tired. Reps and volume are important here.
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1A. Seated Front Raise: 8 reps
1B. Seated Lateral Raise: 8 reps
1C. Seated Rear-delt Raise: 8 reps
Why these three exercises: Sitting down increases your stability and drives more muscular tension to your shoulders. Each exercise focuses on one of the three deltoids.
Trainer Tip: After finishing the triset put the weight down and shake your hands out to relax your hands and grip
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Use a slow eccentric to increase your time under tension. Although it’s easier to perform with the same weight, increasing or decreasing the weight if a certain exercise is too easy or hard works well also.
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1A. Front plank with shoulder tap: 8 reps (each side)
1B. Reverse crunches: 8 reps
1C. Side plank with hip dip: 8 reps (each side)
Why these three exercises: These three exercises train the upper, lower abs and the obliques in a reps style fashion instead of time. Adding movement to the plank position also increases the intensity.
Trainer Tip: If you feel your form slipping increase your rest time between exercises. Quality is important when working with the spine.
Tip to increase/reduce intensity: Increase or reduce your base of support on the planks to make the exercises easier or more difficult.
But wait, there’s more. These help burn fat too.
High-intensity training like the above six trainings increases your demand for oxygen not only during training, but once you’ve finished as well. This is known as Excess Post Oxygen Consumption or EPOC.
EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to homeostasis (balance), and research suggests that increasing your EPOC can lead to your body burning more calories and more fat after you’ve finished training.
A 2017 study by Schleppenbach et al, showed that there was a significantly higher caloric expenditure because of EPOC by those people who trained using high-intensity interval training.
Not only will you build a lagging body part, but you’ll also improve your fat loss too.
So don’t let time and pain be an excuse to add size to a lagging body part. With a little sweat equity and these hypertrophy finishers at the end of your training, you’ll be pleased with your results.