About the Author: Eric Cressey

I was wondering what your thoughts on “finishers” to workouts are. You know, tough stuff to test yourself at the end of a lift.

Truthfully, I rarely add “finishers” to the end of sessions. In my opinion, this brings to light an amazing “phenomenon” that exists in the performance enhancement field. Those who make frequent use of finishers are the very same individuals who don’t know a thing about volume manipulation for optimal supercompensation. If the finisher was such a valuable inclusion, then why wasn’t it written into the program initially?

Some people claim that these are an ideal means of enhancing mental toughness. I can’t disagree, but I do think that your mental training stimuli should already exist in your programming. If you need to search around for things to haphazardly incorporate at the end of a session, then you need to take a look at program design abilities. I’d rather see a “finisher” just be considered an appropriately-planned “last exercise.” Believe it or not, there should even be times when you leave the gym feeling fresh.

There may be instances where I’ll push an athlete (or myself) with increased volume and/or intensity based on the pre-training mood. This is one basis for cybernetic periodization; effectively, you can roll with the punches as needed.

I will say, however, that finishers have their place with younger athletes where you’re just trying to keep the session fun. If you find something productive that they’re enthusiastic about doing, by all means, deviate from your plan a bit and build on that enthusiasm. When they start getting more experienced, though, you’re going to have to know when to hold back the reins on them a bit.

Eric Cressey