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Everyone, regardless of fitness or health goals can benefit from having less fat. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look leaner? I would like to think that an estimated 80% of all people who are currently into a fitness or diet program, and those who are considering joining one are aiming to lose body fat.
The only problem is, their efforts are sometimes misguided, which leads to lower-than-expected results.
For novices and the uninformed, it may seem that ‘more is better’, but this isn’t always the case. While the idea of doing endless cardio exercises, e.g., running, swimming, cycling and jogging may be inspiring, you wouldn’t be doing the right and complete way to burn fat.
Also, lifting weights isn’t strictly for those who want to ‘bulk up’, or for individuals who want to have incredible arm, leg and chest muscles. Using smaller dumbbells for ‘toning up’ isn’t the greatest method of losing weight, either.
Ask anyone and they will tell you that their discipline, e.g., Pilates, Pure Barre, High-Intensity Interval Training or Yoga is the surefire way to reduce body fat and expose your curves.
In my opinion, metabolic training and strength training are better for increasing muscle tissue and reducing body fat. The workouts mentioned above have their own pros, which is to relax the mind, for better breathing and limb mobility.
Don’t get me wrong, though- each form of exercise has its merits, and they all are great for the body and mind. It’s just that metabolic and strength workouts are your best options when it comes to torching fat and toning up those muscles.
If yoga and running all day aren’t good for losing weight, then what should you do? If this is in your mind, then you’ve come to the right place. It all really boils down to science and knowing which exercises are pound-for-pound the best ones that burn fat and improve your physique.
Fat Loss and You
Losing stubborn fat isn’t always about physical effort. One of the most overlooked aspects in weight loss workouts is the fact that diet plays a major part of your success.
Generally, your diet should focus on four things. One, you should know your nutritional deficiencies and build your meals around getting them in optimal doses. Two, balance out the macronutrients according to your body type. Third, pay close attention to your pre- and post-workout nutrition. Finally, choose quality over quantity and learn to eat only when you’re hungry.
In this regard, I’d recommend healthy fats in the form of nuts, extra virgin coconut oil and avocados, plenty of cruciferous veggies and lean animal-based protein. Water plays a vital role in diet and workout, so make sure to stay hydrated at all times. Take BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids and supplement with shakes before and after training sessions. Stop drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and beverages that contain high calories.
Don’t limit yourself to a specific diet, even when everybody’s doing it. Vegan, low carb and Paleo are today’s fads but they limit your food choices and can only derail you from your main goal (which is to burn fat). The key is to combine and use only what your body needs, then leave out the rest.
Finishers are my secret to quickly burning fatty acids accumulated inside the body. What are finishers, you ask? Well, they’re technically workouts that focus on increasing your metabolic rate, which you can add to your sessions 3 to 4 days a week. To supercharge your fatty acid loss, use hormone-sensitive lipase as it can free the fat from adipose tissue and release it into the bloodstream. Carnitine then transports the fat to mitochondria for use as energy.
The bottom line is, you will need to maintain a high metabolic cost in order to start burning fat reserves. Unfortunately, not all sports, exercises and workouts belong in this category, which includes yoga, tennis and jogging.
How does one get into that ‘high cost’, you ask? Easy. You must get into a rhythm of intense exercises that involve every major muscle group. All that activity is sure to get your metabolism at its highest peak, thereby facilitating the best possible state for losing weight.
Workout Finishers to Burn Fat
If it’s your first time hearing the phrase ‘finisher’, you’re not alone. Strength coaches usually use it on their athletes at the end of each training session. I use the word ‘brutal’ as it can really push you to the limit, both physically and mentally. That said, finishers can make grown men cry and it’s more about sticking until the end to gain its benefits.
Do it regularly and you can look forward to better body composition and conditioning. It’s that final push that gets your metabolic cost up and running, so to speak.
Let’s adopt this routine of adding finishers at the end of every strength training session. A quick burst of exercise anywhere between five to ten minutes at the end may seem tough, but it’s the perfect opportunity since your energy reserves will be low then. At this moment, your body will be converting reserves and turning to fatty acid for energy (to which the hormone-sensitive lipase will come in handy).
What’s more, the mental challenge you get from finishers will be an amazing bonus. They’re designed in a way that you’ll have absolutely nothing left in the end, which is important if you want to see results. Yes, it can make you a bit sick in the stomach and you’ll feel nauseous and exhausted, but you’ll have activated your internal fat-burning engine, so in the end, it’s worth it.
Finishers should be planned with care, personalized so that it’s realistic and challenging at the same time. There’s really no need to risk injury or try complex yet poor movements, and I find that simple works best in this case.
Save the Olympic and barbell lifts for when you’re fresh. These 7 workout finishers are the best in terms of activating your metabolic rate to sky-high levels.
1. Sled Push/Pull
The sled is one of the best equipment you can use for fat loss. Granted, it doesn’t look like proper gym equipment but it’s super easy to use and yet has a way of putting you on your back if you’re not careful.
The sled push and pull are versatile as it can be integrated into any program. The right balance of effectiveness and challenge is when you can pull and push it for 20 meters each way without it being too easy or near-impossible.
Load it up with weights and try to push the equipment for a good twenty meters, then pull it back to the starting point as fast as you can. Keep in mind that good posture is needed, and there’s no strict number of reps as you’ll be repeating the motion for five minutes. For week 2 and beyond, add 1 minute per week until you’re pushing and pulling for ten minutes per session. You can also load more weights if it becomes too easy.
2. Squat, Swing and Carry
The squat-swing-carry combo is a favorite among finishers, and with good reason. The exercise has the loaded carry, hinge and squat, all of which engage various muscle groups and stresses your metabolic load in a positive manner.
You’ll only need a single kettlebell to get started. For women, I’d recommend a 10 or 12 kg kettlebell, while men should grab the 20 to 24 kg one. It’s perfectly okay to start lower, especially for those who are just starting out or are used to lighter loads. However, you should get up to speed if you’ve been stuck on it for about two months.
Get a kettlebell and go through the motions of a goblet squat five times, then transition to a kettlebell swing fifteen times. Return to the starting goblet position and carry it for forty meters. Do everything five times and without ever putting down the kettlebell. To make things more interesting, add five burpees every time you put the kettlebell down.
3. Burpee Countdown/ Calorie Row
Calorie rows involve no equipment or weight besides your own body. In fact, most finishers make use of a weighted object to accelerate your metabolic rate. In the burpee countdown, the ranged movement and rower should provide enough resistance to get a satisfying workout.
Do a calorie superset on burpees and the Concept 2 rower, with a standard of five calories per rep and a 20-15-10 pattern within 8 minutes max. Don’t forget to set the rower’s unit to calories first. Do enough that the gauge reads twenty calories, then get off and perform twenty burpees. Repeat the whole thing on fifteen, ten and five calories per reps.
4. Dumbbell Complex SOF
This finisher can be completed with just a dumbbell, which makes it a great all-around exercise on just about any gym. Moreover, you get a full-body workout and experience brutal fatigue, thanks to the unilateral work which forces you to really concentrate.
Determining the proper weight can be tricky, but here’s what I’d recommend. The snatch-and-bend row will be your basis on what the right number is. Get the dumbbell that will let you do a bent-over row 8 times or two dumbbell snatches 8 times.
All five exercises must be completed without ever putting the dumbbell down. You can’t rest for more than two minutes per round. Repeat for up to three rounds total.
- 2-Dumbbell Hang Snatch – 8 reps
- Dumbbell Bent Over Row – 8 reps
- Front Rack Reverse Lunges – 8 reps each
- Dumbbell Curl and Press – 8 reps
- 1-Leg RDL’s – 8 reps each
5. Pull, Push Slam
You’d be forgiven to think that the pull, push and slam is easy. On paper, the motions are quick and simple, right?
Here’s what you can do – in 8 minutes, do these three exercises:
- 15 heavy ball slams
- 10 push-ups
- 5 chin-ups or pull-ups
Pick the heaviest ball available. The ball slam will force you to do a deadlift and scoop motion that involves the shoulders as well. Things get interesting when you’re trying to get the ball up above your head. Afterward, just drop the ball and do the rest.
Looking for more of a challenge? Try to beat your personal record each time you do a pull, push and slam.
6. Medicine Ball Workout
For this finisher, you’ll need a mid-weight medicine ball somewhere around 10 to 14 lbs.
The time limit is three minutes. You will need to do these four exercises:
Overhead Medicine Ball Slams. Lift the medicine ball up and above your head, then hurl the ball to the ground with all your might. For added effect, squeeze your abs and keep your back straight from start to finish. Do this 10 times.
Around the World Slams. Lift the ball up and above, but don’t slam it straight down. Circle the ball on your back and send the medicine ball to the left or right while rotating your torso. Do this 5 times.
Lateral Medicine Ball Throw. Get the medicine ball up and above the ground, then plant your feet to shoulder length. Spin, then throw the ball out as far as possible to the side. Do this one time.
Sprint. Run to the ball. Do this one time.
7. Shuttle Sprints
300-yard shuttle sprints are excellent. They’re relatively simple but deceptively tough. Aside from gaining explosive leg muscles, your metabolic rate shoots up and you’ll find yourself in great conditioning the more you do it.
Get two water bottles or cones and space them 25 yards apart. Run from one cone to another twelve times on 6 trips total and touch each cone or bottle as you go. The challenge is to complete the round in under a minute. Every 300 yards is one set, and you’re allowed 3 to 5 minutes’ rest between sets.
The key to making the challenge is to use your arms to propel yourself forward and touching the cones only when you’re changing direction. Make sure to pay attention to the control and alignment of your lower body whenever you do this finisher.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.