Having a cardio finish at the end of your strength training is great for fat loss and mental strength as your energy stores (glycogen) are low and you are exercising tired. But if you shift your emphasis on hypertrophy finishers to bring out a lagging body part, you will get improved stamina, mental strength, and more flex appeal. Are finishers easy? No, but no muscle building either. So, put on your hard hat and get to work.
Because limiting time, reps, and equipment is a great way to build sagging body parts. The limited rest time between exercises and sets increases metabolic damage and muscle pumping for the targeted muscle group to improve the potential for hypertrophy.
The eight minute, eight rep finishers used below are nothing special. You can change it to 5 repetitions for 5 minutes or 10 repetitions for 10 minutes. It depends on how much time you have and how much discomfort you want to endure.
Complete each tri-set as a circle and rest as little as possible between exercises. At the end of each lap, rest 30 seconds and do as many laps as possible within the eight minutes. Adjust the weight used accordingly – good shape is still important, especially when you are tired.
The following exercises are suggestions and can be replaced with your favorite exercises.
6 hypertrophy finishers
Here are six hypertrophy finishers to perform at the end of your workout. If you get it right, your body part of your choice is ready.
Eight Minute Legs (Gluteus Focus)
skynesher / Getty
1A. Kettlebell swings: 8 repetitions
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.
Tip from the trainer: Use the same kettlebell weight for the turns and squats with minimal rest in between
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Stop at the bottom of the goblet squat for three seconds. Do hip extensions with your own body weight if you find hip bumps too uncomfortable.
Eight Minute Legs (Quad Focus)
By Bernal / M + F magazine
1A. Goblet Split Squat: 4 reps (each leg)
1B. Offset Kettlebell Front Squat: 4 reps (each arm)
1C. End knee extension (unilateral or bilateral): 8 repetitions
Why these exercises: The split squat and front load squat focus more on the quads, with the terminal knee extensions thrown in for a good quad burn.
Trainer tip: Before you begin, build up the band, using the same weight for the split squat and the front squat.
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Do everything 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 repetitions
1C. Triceps Pushdowns: 8 reps
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Use a slow eccentric (lowering phase) on both the overhead and push-ups to increase your time under tension.
Why these three exercises: The overhead triceps trains the long triceps head, the largest of the three muscles. Diamond pushups focus on the triceps and inner chest, and the pushdowns work the lateral and medial head. All three heads of the triceps are covered.
Trainer tip: The overhead and pushdown can be done with either a tape or cable machine. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Eight Minute Arms (Bicep Focus)
1A. Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 8 reps
1B. Supinated lat pulldown: 8 repetitions
1C. Dumbbell Zottman Curl: 8 reps
Why these three exercises: Exercising the biceps from different angles and all of its functions (elbow flexors, supination and pronation) allows for greater growth.
Trainer tip: Any two-handed row variation that works the biceps heavily will work here.
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Don’t be afraid to lose weight if your biceps get tired. Reps and volume are important here.
Steve Smith / M + F magazine
1A. Sitting front raise: 8 reps
1B. Sitting lateral raises: 8 reps
1C. Rear shoulder lifts while seated: 8 repetitions
Why these three exercises: Sitting increases your stability and leads to more muscle tension in your shoulders. Each exercise focuses on one of the three deltoid muscles.
Trainer tip: After you finish the triset, put the weight down and shake your hands out to relax your hands and grip
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Use a slow eccentric to increase your time under tension. While it is easier to exercise with the same weight, adding or decreasing the weight when a particular exercise is too easy or too difficult also works well.
Eight minute core
Chris Nicoll / M + F magazine
1A. Front plank with pats on the back: 8 reps (each side)
1B. Reverse crunches: 8 repetitions
1C. Side Plank with Hip Dip: 8 reps (each side)
Why these three exercises: These three exercises work the upper, lower abs and obliques in repetition style instead of time. Adding movement to the plank position also increases the intensity.
Trainer tip: If you feel your shape slipping, increase your rest time between exercises. Quality is important when working with the spine.
Tip to increase / decrease the intensity: Increase or decrease your support base on the planks to make the exercises easier or more difficult.
But wait, there’s more. These also help burn fat.
A high-intensity workout like the six workouts above increases your oxygen needs not only during exercise, but also after exercise. This is known as Excess Post Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC.
EPOC is the amount of oxygen needed to restore your body to homeostasis (balance), and research suggests that increasing your EPOC can cause your body to burn more calories and more fat after a workout.
A study by Schleppenbach et al. from 2017 showed that people who trained with high-intensity interval training had significantly higher calorie consumption due to EPOC.
Not only will you build a sagging body part, but you will also improve your fat loss.
So don’t let time and pain be an excuse to add size to a retarded body part. With a little sweat relief and those hypertrophy finishers at the end of your workout, you will be happy with your results.