The Art of Finishing

September 9, 2010

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On their way to winning Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints adopted the team motto “Finish Strong." Whether it was finishing a play, practice, quarter, game or the season overall, the Saints promised themselves they would do it strong. And they did.

Finishing strong is easier said than done. Any athlete can come out of the blocks with intensity and perform at a high level, but only the best athletes can sustain that effort and even intensify it in the final minutes of a contest. Call it being “clutch” or “digging deep,” the ability to come though late in games, when it matters most, is one of the most important elements of athletic success. Championship teams and athletes execute comebacks or hold onto leads as time winds down. Mediocre ones fade into the background or choke in the spotlight.

The good news is that clutch can be trained on a daily basis.

If you’re like most athletes, your training program consists of front-loaded workouts. You hit things pretty intensely up front, with speed training, plyometrics, explosive lifts and exhausting multi-joint, lower-body movements like Squats and Lunges. But once you’ve muscled through those exercises, relief is in sight as you move on to working smaller muscle groups with less-demanding movements. You wrap things up with a quick core circuit and call it day.

Although performing this type of workout makes you a better athlete on paper—helping you get bigger, faster, stronger and fitter—it can subtly sabotage your ability to finish by training your body and mind to coast to the finish line. When things begin to slow down in the weight room, your heart rate drops, your intensity fades, and you mentally check out knowing that the worst is behind you.

Stop undermining your ability to finish strong by incorporating a “Finisher” exercise at the end of every workout. This crucial addition will ensure that you stay focused all workout long and train your body to perform when fatigued.

Drew Brees, one of the creators of the Saints' Finish Strong campaign, ends his off-season workouts with three gut-busting 300-Yard Shuttles (watch the SB MVP hustle through them). Denver Nuggets strength coach Steve Hess prescribes a lethal finisher he calls "The Multiple Kill" (watch it here). And legendary performance coach Mike Boyle has his athletes finish their lifts with Sled Runs (Find out how).

Drew Brees finishes out a workout with a 300-Yard Shuttle.

Other athletes turn to proven finishing exercises like Uphill Sprints, Bear Crawls or a Farmer's Walk. The exact nature of the Finisher isn’t important as long as it:

- Lasts approximately 8 to 12 minutes

- Includes a heavy dose of sport-specific conditioning

- Is as hard as, if not harder than, actual competition, making game time easy!

- Has a dread factor. Knowing that your “Finisher” is looming should keep your mind focused leading up to the end of your workout.

If you'd rather leave the creativity up to the experts, try the custom-made option below.

STACK Bonus Finisher: 100 Yards of Glory
- Begin at goal line, sprint to 10-yard line and perform one Burpee. Sprint back to goal line
- Sprint to 20-yard line and perform two Burpees. Sprint back to goal line
- Continue to the 30, 40, 50, far 40, far 30, far 20, far 10 and far goal line, finishing with 10 Burpees.

Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
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