Seven Metabolic Finishers to Burn Fat

by Nick Tumminello

Burn body fat, improve conditioning, and make each workout an ass kicking success. Here’s how.

A metabolic finisher is an intense exercise or series of exercises performed at the end of the workout that’s designed to ensure that you’ve burnt every last drop of gas from the tank.

Except for the occasional exercise masochist you might encounter, few lifters find finishers “fun,” at least while they’re performing them. But if you value things like mental toughness and the satisfaction that comes with pushing yourself to the “I think I’m seeing stars?” realm, metabolic finishers are tough to beat.

Below is a list of seven of the most popular metabolic finishers that I use with my athletes here at Performance U in Baltimore, MD. I use these finishers for a variety of applications, whether it’s to accelerate fat loss, enhance work capacity, or give them the conditioning needed to outlast the competition in any sporting event.

Let’s get to it!

1. 300 Yard Shuttle Sprints

This is one of my longtime favorites because it’s simple, super intense, and just plain tough!

Purpose: Improve leg muscle power endurance, accelerate metabolism, and improve cardio/conditioning; great for athletes in field and/or court sports!

How To Do It:

  • Place two cones or water bottles roughly 25 yards apart.
  • Sprint as fast as possible back and forth between the cones for 12 times, completing 6 round trips.
  • Touch the cones each time.
  • Try to finish all 6 laps in as close to 1 minute as possible.
  • Perform 1-3 sets (300 yards = 1 set) resting 3-5 minutes between sets.

Coaching Tips:

  • Touch cones each time you change direction.
  • Be sure to drive with your arms while sprinting.
  • When changing direction at each cone, be aware of your lower-body alignment and control.

2. Medicine Throw Ball Complex

If you’ve got a rubber medicine ball (3-5kg) and a wall to hurl it at, give this one a shot!

Purpose: Improve upper body and torso power endurance. This one is great for upper-body conditioning, especially since so much of conditioning is lower body dominant. Great for boxers, kick-boxers, and MMA fighters.

How To Do It:

  • Standing at a short distance from a solid wall, perform the following exercises, back-to-back, explosively:
  • 8x Squat Push Throws
  • 16x Overhead Throws w/step (alternate legs)
  • 16x Rotary throws (alternate sides)
  • 8x Overhead Floor Slams
  • Perform 4-5 sets. Rest 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets

Coaching Tips:

  • Be explosive on each throw.
  • When throwing, use your legs to help drive the medicine ball.
  • Stay tall (long spine) on the rotary throws.

3. Prowler or Tire Pushes

Purpose: Improve total body conditioning, improve leg strength endurance, improve shoulder, chest, and arm strength endurance, and improve core strength endurance. Improve mental toughness. Great for football, rugby, grappling, and MMA athletes.

How To Do It (with a Prowler):

  • Keep a straight spine and straight arms while driving the Prowler forward using big strides.
  • Driving the sled with a good body forward lean angle, push the Prowler for 25-40 yards as fast as you can.
  • Perform 3-6 sets with 30 seconds – 3 minutes rest (depending on the intensity) between sets.

How To Do It (with a Tire):

Note: I prefer using the tire over the Prowler as I feel it’s more demanding on the arms, shoulders, and torso. Plus, you can save some serious cash and space in your gym by simply using an old tire.

Coaching Tips:

  • Keep your back straight and don’t allow your low back to hunch (round).
  • Keep arms/elbows straight throughout the exercise.
  • Take long strides, pushing your legs hard into the ground with each step.
  • The weight you put on the Prowler will change depending on the surface you’re pushing it on.
  • Mix up weight and length ranges. Some days use lighter loads for 40+yd pushes. On other days, go with heavier loads for 25+ yards.

4. Plate/Sled Pushes

This one is great if you don’t have a sled, Prowler, or tire! Even it you do have those pieces of equipment, it’s still an awesome option to sprinkle into your training program.

Here’s a video of two of my “master class” figure competitors getting after it with sled pushes:

Purpose: Improve total body conditioning, improve leg strength endurance, and improve mental toughness.

How To Do It:

  • A basketball court or track surface is ideal for this exercise.
  • Place a 45 lbs. Olympic plate on top of a towel to create a slippery surface.
  • Place your hands inside the plate and assume a push-up position.
  • Driving with your legs, push the plate across the floor 25-40 yards as fast as you can. Perform 3-6 sets with 30-90 seconds rest between sets.

Coaching Tips:

  • Keep your back straight and avoid lifting your hips higher than your shoulders.
  • Keep arms/elbows straight throughout the exercise.
  • Take long strides, pushing your legs hard into the ground with each step.
  • Place dumbbells inside the weight plate to add additional load.

5. Four-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Complex

Efficiency zealots love Tabatas. How else can you absolutely destroy yourself in just four fast minutes?

I love Tabatas because they allow for so much programming variety. With a little imagination, it’s possible to never repeat the same workout twice!

Purpose: Improved overall conditioning, boost metabolism, increase functional ability, and build body awareness. This one is great for guys who want to workout at home or travel frequently and are stuck in a hotel room. It’s also great to unload the body from heavy lifting while still pushing your conditioning!

How To Do It:

  • Perform 2 cycles of each of the following exercises back to back for 20 seconds of activity and 10 seconds rest:
  • Speed Squats
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Speed Skips (in place)
  • This will total four minutes.
  • Perform 1-3 sets. Rest 2-4 minutes betweens sets.

Coaching Tips:

  • Perform each exercise as fast as possible without sacrificing form.
  • On the speed skips, lift knee above hip.
  • On the burpees, don’t slam your feet into the ground. Control your fall on each rep!

If you like what you see here, you can find more Performance U Tabata complexes in this article.

6. Four Corners Farmer Walks

Here at Performance U, we’ve combined farmer’s walks with strength complexes to make each protocol an even more effective metabolic finisher.

Purpose: Build upper body strength/endurance, improve grip strength, accelerate metabolism, and pump up the shoulders like never before! Great for the guy who loves to lift weights but hates to do “cardio.”

How To Do It:

  • Place two cones or water bottles roughly ten yards apart. Stand at one end holding a pair of heavy dumbbells. Get comfortable; you won’t put these dumbbells down until you’ve completed all of the following exercises:
  • Perform 8-10 reps of bent over rows.
  • Without ever placing the dumbbells down, walk to the other end and perform 8-10 biceps curls.
  • Still holding the dumbbells, walk back to the other end and perform a set of dumbbell front squats.
  • Walk back to the other end and perform 8-10 dumbbell over head presses.
  • Don’t put the dumbbells down yet! Walk back to the starting cone to complete 1 full set.
  • Perform 1-3 sets with 2-4 minutes rest between sets.

Coaching Tips:

  • Walk as fast as possible between the cones.
  • On all strength exercises, be sure to use optimal form and control.
  • Choose the heaviest set of dumbbells that allow you to successfully complete the entire workout without ever putting it down on the floor.

7. 100 Rep Kettlebell Complex

The more I use kettlebells, the more I like them! They’re a very versatile tool that incorporates momentum and full body motions along with rhythmic motions, which require good focus and timing – all great things to help improve fitness and athleticism.

Below is a great KB finisher I learned from fitness model Alli McKee.

Purpose: Improve total body conditioning and upper-body strength/power endurance.

How To Do It:

Each movement is performed with one arm at a time. Perform each exercise with power and deliberate control. Bang out each exercise back-to-back, without rest until finished:

  • Right side KB Swing x 10 reps
  • Left side KB Swing x 10 reps
  • Right side KB Clean x 10 reps
  • Left side KB Clean x 10 reps
  • Right side KB Snatch x 10 reps
  • Left side KB Snatch x 10 reps
  • Right side KB Racked Squat x 10 reps
  • Left side KB Racked Squat x 10 reps
  • Right side KB Push Press x 10 reps
  • Left side KB Push Press x 10 reps
  • Rest 2–3 minutes between rounds. Perform 1-3 rounds.

Coaching Tips:

  • If your form breaks down – either stop or reduce the reps!
  • Use your entire body on each exercise, never “arm up” the kettlebell.

Bonus: Do it Backwards!

Once you’ve mastered the above 100 rep KB challenge, try it in the reverse order beginning with the push presses. It’s a whole new animal when you switch the order up.


Although I’ve provided you with 7 nasty “puke in your shoes” finishers, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the metabolic finishers I use in my business at Performance U.

With all the great conditioning tools available from battling ropes to hammer training to Airdyne Bike intervals to barbell complexes and circuits, it’s literally endless what you can do with some purposeful creativity. Use this article as inspiration to think out of the box and develop your own metabolic finishers.

Aside from the amazing fitness and physique benefits, these finishers will test your grit and help build the intestinal fortitude you need to take on any challenge that life throws at you.

Look better, move better, feel better, and BE better. It all starts with how you finish!