Bigger Arms, Smaller Waist: 5 Metabolic Finishers

More Muscle and Less Fat in 6-15 Minutes

5 Metabolic Finishers

If you'd rather wipe your ass with sandpaper than take up running, you'll love finishers.

Finishers are short, high-intensity routines performed at the end of your workouts (typically 5-15 minutes). Finishers burn fat, improve conditioning, and build muscle. You can also use finishers as your full workout if you're strapped for time.

Here are five finishers to try out. At the end, we'll go over some guidelines and programming options.

1. The Push-Up Pull-Apart Finisher

For simplicity and effectiveness, this push/pull combo takes the cake. It'll leave your upper body wiped and pumped. All you need is a resistance band and some grit.

  • Push-ups x 60 seconds, AMRAP
  • Pull-aparts x 60 seconds, AMRAP
  • Rest 60 seconds
  • Repeat for a total of 3-5 rounds

AMRAP means "as many reps as possible." Too tough? Use 30 seconds instead of 60 seconds for the push-ups and pull-aparts.

Record how many total push-ups you complete. Perform the finisher again in 8-10 weeks and beat your original score.


  • Add band-resistance to the push-ups by looping the band around your thumbs and upper back.
  • Add a weight vest if you're completely insane.

2. The Bi's and Tri's Finisher

This gun run can be added at the end of your arm day. All you need is a 45-pound barbell. This is a pyramid-style finisher, meaning the reps start high and decrease by the set.

Leave a timer running and do this:

  • Barbell curls x 25
  • Close-grip barbell push-ups x 25
  • Barbell curls x 20
  • Close-grip barbell push-ups x 20
  • Barbell curls x 15
  • Close-grip barbell push-ups x 15
  • Barbell curls x 10
  • Close-grip barbell push-ups x 10
  • Barbell curls x 5
  • Close-grip barbell push-ups x 5
  • Stop the timer

Rest as needed throughout. Record how long it took you to complete the entire pyramid. Try it again in 8-10 weeks and beat your original score.

Not that you'll need it, but you could add weight to the bar or wear a weight vest to make it more challenging.

Note: As with all of these finishers, don't overdo this one. The repetitive motion can put a toll on your elbows over time.

3. The Goblet Squat and Hammie Hold Finisher

Goblet squats are great, but the limiting factor is how much weight your arms can hold vs. how much your legs can handle. This isn't an issue here since you'll be using 25% of your bodyweight on the dumbbell or kettlebell. If you weigh 200 pounds, use a 50 dumbbell.

  • Goblet squats x 30 seconds, AMRAP
  • Hamstring hold x 30 seconds. "Pull" your heels back towards your butt and squeeze your hamstrings as hard as you can.
  • Repeat
  • Rest for 60 seconds
  • Repeat for 3-5 total rounds

Record how many total squats you complete. Do it again in 8-10 weeks and try to beat that number.

4. The 7's Single-Leg Circuit

Skater squats, single-leg RDLs, and reverse lunges are staples in many strength programs. So why not combine them into one sadistic circuit?

  • Skater squats x 7
  • Single-leg RDL x 7
  • Reverse lunges (slider or regular variation) x 7
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Repeat on the other leg
  • Rest for 1-2 minutes
  • Repeat for 2-3 total sets each leg

I like taking at least 30-60 seconds rest between sides during unilateral exercises. You'll be fully recovered and able to hit the other side with optimal technique.

5. The Sled Dread Full-Body Finisher

If you have a sled, rope, and some turf, get ready. You'll love this finisher and dread it at the same time.

You can use one of two methods here:

1. Pyramid

Depending on your strength level, you have two options for loading:

  1. 100 pounds with all 25-pound plates
  2. 40 pounds with all 10-pound plates
  • Attach a rope to the sled. There are specialty attachments for this or you can just tie it around the sled.
  • Leave a timer running.
  • Pull the rope and drag the sled towards you. Pull with one arm at a time in a continuous motion until the sled reaches you.
  • Get up and push the sled back as quickly as possible. Push it to the end of the turf so the rope is fully stretched out.
  • Take one plate off the sled. Run back to the end of the rope.
  • Repeat until there's no weight left on the sled. (Take one plate off at a time each round.)

Stop the timer and record your time. Do it again in 8-10 weeks using the same weight and complete it in a shorter time.


After a short rest, do the whole thing again in reverse, this time adding back a plate each round. Then seek therapy.

2. Timed Circuit

  • Leave a timer running.
  • Load the sled. Guys should aim for 50% of their bodyweight in addition to the sled, while women should aim for 25% of their bodyweight. And yes, if you're a strong-ass woman and you want to add more weight, do it!
  • Lay on your back with the rope stretched as far as it can. The sled should be on the other side of the turf above your head.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  • Pull the rope with a hand-over-hand grip. Pull with one arm at a time in a continuous motion until the sled reaches you.
  • Get up and push the sled back as quickly as possible. Push it to the end of the turf so the rope is fully stretched out.
  • Perform as many rounds as you can in 5 minutes.

Record how many rounds you complete. Perform again in 8-10 weeks with the same weight and beat your original score.

Finisher Guidelines and Programming

  • One or two finishers per week is plenty. Finishers are taxing on your joints and nervous system, so don't overdo them. How often you do finishers depends on factors like your program, goals, and training/injury history. A general guideline is no more than 1-2 times per week.
  • Use exercises that aren't super technical. So, don't use a barbell snatch as part of your finisher. Instead, push a heavy sled or do landmine thrusters. Use exercises that require minimal technical cueing so you can focus on just doing them (with good form) at high intensity.
  • Don't sacrifice your technique. Sure, you'll be exhausted when you do finishers, but focus on quality over quantity when it comes to reps. Some will look uglier than others, and a little body English is okay at times, but emphasize good form as much as you can.
  • Don't use heavy weights. Heavy lifts aren't for finishers.
  • Don't do box jumps. Box jumps help you develop power and explosiveness. They're not a conditioning exercise meant to be done to the point of exhaustion. You need to be fresh when you do box jumps, not fatigued at the end of your workout.