Finishing Exercises for Conditioning and Endurance

Add a tough conditioning element to your workouts with three ideas for finishing exercises from Steven Trolio, NSCA-CPT.

Power Clean with chains

"Finishers" are short bouts of intense exercise used at the end of a strength workout. Finishing exercises are tremendously effective for enhancing conditioning and building work capacity, and they take only a small amount of time.

Airdyne Tabatas

Tabatas, a popular variation of high-intensity interval training, are absolutely brutal: 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight consecutive rounds, totaling four minutes.

To perform a Tabata as a finishing exercise on the Airdyne, simply go all out for 20 seconds, then stop cycling for 10 seconds. Repeat this eight times. When you reach the end, you will appreciate how effective this particular finisher really is.

One Tabata should be plenty to finish you off after a workout. If you feel like you could go another eight rounds, you didn't push hard enough.


Complexes can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells or your body weight; however, barbell complexes tend to be the simplest to remember and the most efficient.

The concept is simple. Choose a handful of movements that will engage most of your body's major muscle groups and perform them in succession for a predetermined number of reps without setting the bar down.

For example, a full body five-rep complex might look like this:

These exercises work well because you can transition smoothly from one to the next. Be smart when deciding on a load for complexes. Either use a light load for higher reps (8-10 on each exercise) or a heavier load for fewer reps (4-6 each exercise).

Besides improving work capacity and conditioning, a good barbell complex will challenge your grip strength as well.


Sprinting is superb for athletic development. The key is to not overdo it, and to make each sprint count. Keep the distance relatively short and let yourself recover completely after each sprint.

Five 40-yard sprints work fine for most trainees. Focus on power production and maintaining solid posture during each sprint.

These are just a few ideas. Don't hesitate to get creative with finishing exercises. Make the most of your available equipment, keep it short and push yourself hard!

Read more:

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock