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How to Use Workout Finishers in a Bootcamp Setting

How to Use Workout Finishers in a Bootcamp Setting

Mike Whitfield, CFNC, CTT



If there is one thing I love more than anything else, it’s seeing the faces of bootcamp newbies’ faces when I say we’re about to perform the workout finisher at the end of a bootcamp session.  You have to admit, the word “finisher” can be a little intimidating.  The good news is that a metabolic finisher can be intimidating to belly fat, too.


What is a Metabolic Workout Finisher?


A metabolic finisher is a way to give your workout one final “grand finale” push to ignite the “afterburn”.  They are what I call “mini-workouts” and fat torchers that typically only last a few minutes.  Some of them only last just a minute or two.  They involve heart-pounding exercises with very little rest, putting a turbulence on the body that forces you to burn an excess of calories (also known as your belly fat) to return to a normal state.  This burning takes hours throughout the day.  In other words, they are awesome.


A good example of a finisher is something like this:


Do the following circuit 3 times, resting for 30 seconds between circuits.

1) Burpees (10)

2) Mountain Climbers (15 ea)

3) Jumping Jacks (30)


These heart-pounding exercises take everything you got out of you, especially after a workout, but the payoff is worth it.  You will find yourself breaking a weight loss plateau and jump starting your fat loss program.


But when doing something like this in a group setting, it can be a challenge.  It might take a beginner a full minute to do 10 burpees, while a burpee veteran can knock out 10 in 20 seconds.  Does that mean you just do away with finishers?  No way.  They are too awesome.  This is how to fix that…


How to Use Finishers in a Group Setting


You can easily use finishers in a bootcamp.  The first thing to do is offer substitution exercises.  For example, you can tell your campers that they can substitute the burpee for a total body extension.  A total body extension is when you squat down, pushing your hips back and extending your arms down and behind your hips, then coming up, while extending your arms above your head.

The next thing you want to change is to use a set time for reps rather than a specific number.  For example, you would take the finisher shown above and change it to this:


1) Burpees (30 secs)

2) Mountain Climbers (30 secs)

3) Jumping Jacks (30 secs)


Tell your campers to do as many as they can in the time allotted, but resting when needed.  This allows beginners and veterans to get the benefits of the finisher without the use of an ambulance.  You can use a stopwatch or a gym boss interval timer.


So, remember, it comes down to two things:


1. Offer exercise substitutions

2. Use timed sets rather than specific reps


One of my favorite finishers I use with my campers is the upper/lower countdown.  This one does use reps, but it’s a little different.  Here it is:


Do the following superset resting only when needed.  In the first superset, you will perform 8 reps.  In the next superset you will perform 7 reps.  Continue in this fashion until you complete 1 rep of each exercise.

1A) Lunge Jumps (8 ea, 7 ea, etc, down to 1 ea)

1B) Pushups (8, 7, etc, down to 1)


Good times.


When doing something like this with a group,  you simply tell your campers to do what they can and rest when they need to.  They can stop to catch their breath, and then they hop right back in wherever you are in the countdown.  They can also substitute the lunge jumps for alternating reverse lunges and the pushups for kneeling pushups.


Why You Should Incorporate Finishers in Your Bootcamp


This type of finisher breeds what I call a “healthy competition” among your campers, which makes your camp different then all the others in town.  Finishers also bring on faster results, which will make your camp the talk of the town.  I just had a guy named Jonathan drop a whopping 20 lbs in just 28 days, and here was his plan:


  • (3) 30-minute bootcamp sessions per week which included total body workouts and metabolic workout finishers
  • Eliminating the junk from his diet, but allowing 1-2 cheat meals per week

It’s pretty simple actually.  It’s like pouring caffeine into your bootcamp workout programs, allowing your campers to torch more fat in less time.  There are a number of ways to use finishers depending on the equipment you have available.  You can use kettlebells and dumbbells, but I like to use a lot of bodyweight finishers.  I’ve even incorporated both like this one:


Do the following superset 4 times, resting for 20 seconds after each superset.

1A) DB/KB Swings (30 secs)

1B) Spiderman Pushups (20 secs)


Here’s the real “secret” to using finishers – they hit a lot of muscle with a lot of volume in very little time.  By doing this, you deplete you muscle glycogen and stimulate growth hormone.  This is lethal against your campers’ belly fat.  When you incorporate finishers into your bootcamp workouts, I welcome you to the next level.



Mike Whitfield, CFNC, CTT



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