Cardio is a must for your bodybuilding success. Doing cardio strengthens your most important muscle – your heart – and builds the fitness and endurance you need to train harder and recover faster between sets and workouts. It’s also very helpful for weight loss and getting ripped.
But, as beneficial as cardio is, it’s also time-consuming and can even be boring.
Lifters like to lift, and most bodybuilders prefer to dedicate their time and energy to increasing muscle size and strength. Trying to fit cardio into an already busy and tiring training schedule often means that it’s the last thing on your list of things to do.
The good news is that you can enjoy all the benefits of cardio without having to dedicate entire training sessions to running, rowing, or cycling.
The solution? 15-minute fat-loss finishers.
Just bolt a finisher onto the end of your regular bodybuilding workout to build your fitness and torch fat.
In this article, we reveal TEN fantastic 15-minute finishers designed specifically for bodybuilders.
15-Minute Fat-Loss Finishers
- 1. Triple Tabata
- 2. Chin-up/Push-up descending ladders
- 3. 4 x 400 meters every three minutes
- 4. Kettlebell swings and goblet squats
- 5. Jump rope 3-minute rounds
- 6. Medicine ball slams and thrusters EMOM
- 7. 100 push-ups
- 8. Bodyweight full-body finisher
- 8. Ground to overhead barbell complex
- 9. Run/row one mile
- 10. Weighted carry medley
- Wrapping Up
15-Minute Fat-Loss Finishers
Each of the following finishers takes 15 minutes or less and is designed to be done after your regular strength training workout. Each one will burn plenty of calories and should also trigger EPOC, which is short for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.
EPOC is also known as the afterburn effect and is accompanied by a significant rise in post-exercise metabolic rate.
Finishers are also good for increasing mental toughness.
Use any of the following finishers to make your bodybuilding workouts even more effective!
1. Triple Tabata
There aren’t many workouts that are more time-efficient than Tabata training. Consisting of eight sets of 20-seconds work and ten-seconds recovery, Tabatas were invented by Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata.
This three-way Tabata finisher is the perfect end to any bodybuilding workout. Just do each Tabata exercise in turn, doing as many reps as possible in the allotted time.
- Tabata #1 – Kettlebell swings
- Rest 1 minute
- Tabata #2 – parallel squats
- Rest 1 minute
- Tabata #3 – jump rope
2. Chin-up/Push-up descending ladders
This simple finisher is an excellent add-on to any upper body workout. It’s also self-regulating; just do as many laps as you can in 15-minutes. If 15-minutes is too long, reduce the duration to 12 or 10-minutes.
Do as many laps as you can in the allotted time of the following chin-up/push-up sequence:
Go back to 3 chin-ups, 6 push-ups, and repeat the sequence as many times as you can in the time available. The reps are low and decrease lap-by-lap so you can maintain a brisk, non-stop pace throughout.
3. 4 x 400 meters every three minutes
You can do this simple cardio finisher on a treadmill or a rowing machine as preferred. Simply row or run 400 meters as fast as you can, rest until your timer reaches three minutes, and go again. Repeat four times to total 12-minutes.
- Row 400 meters in 1 minute, 35 seconds (rest 85 seconds)
- Row 400 meters in 1 minute, 45 seconds (rest 75 seconds)
- Row 400 meters in 1 minute, 55 seconds (rest 65 seconds)
- Row 400 meters in 2 minutes (finished!)
4. Kettlebell swings and goblet squats
This fat-burning finisher is a great way to close out a leg workout. It works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes and will drive your heart rate sky-high, burning loads of calories in the process.
The reps decrease as you start to tire, which should mean you can keep the pace high from start to finish. Just storm through the following sequence as fast as you can:
- 15 kettlebell swings
- 15 goblet squats
- 12 kettlebell swings
- 12 goblet squats
- 10 kettlebell swings
- 10 goblet squats
- 9 kettlebell swings
- 9 goblet squats
- 8 kettlebell swings
- 8 goblet squats
- 7 kettlebell swings
- 7 goblet squats
- 6 kettlebell swings
- 6 goblet squats
- 5 kettlebell swings
- 5 goblet squats
- 4 kettlebell swings
- 4 goblet squats
- 3 kettlebell swings
- 3 goblet squats
- 2 kettlebell swings
- 2 goblet squats
- 1 kettlebell swing
- 1 goblet squat
5. Jump rope 3-minute rounds
Boxers fight in three-minute rounds. This is slightly too long to be purely anaerobic but short enough that you can maintain a fast aerobic pace. This simple finisher burns a lot of calories and will build your fitness. It’s ideal for use after upper body or lower body bodybuilding workouts.
- Jump rope for three minutes as fast as possible
- Rest one minute
- Repeat three times to total 12 minutes
You could also run, use an air-bike, or row instead of jumping rope.
6. Medicine ball slams and thrusters EMOM
EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. You do the prescribed number of reps and then rest until the start of the next minute. The faster you do your reps, the more rest you get before starting again.
This finisher uses two alternating exercises done EMOM-style. Doing two different exercises should mean that you can maintain a faster pace than doing one exercise on its own.
- 15 medicine ball slams
- 10 wall ball shots
- Do six sets of each exercise to total 12-minutes
- 15 medicine ball slams (40 seconds, rest 20 seconds)
- 10 wall ball shots (35 seconds, 25 seconds rest)
- 15 medicine ball slams (40 seconds, 20 seconds rest)
- 10 wall ball shots (45 seconds, 15 seconds rest)
7. 100 push-ups
While this finisher will take considerably less than 15-minutes, it’s a great way to close out an upper body workout, especially chest day!
The premise is simple; just crank out 100 perfect push-ups as fast as you can and in as few sets as possible. Make a note of how long it took you to complete all 100 reps, and then try and beat that time when you do this finisher again.
Don’t worry if, by the end, you’re doing sets of just 5-10 reps. Just keep cranking out the push-ups until you’ve done all 100.
Related: 15 Intense Push-Up Variations for Bodybuilders
8. Bodyweight full-body finisher
The great thing about this finisher is you can do it anywhere you can find a few yards of clear space. Do this mini workout after training your upper or lower body.
- Alternating lunges x 30 seconds
- Push-ups x 30 seconds
- Butt-ups x 30 seconds
- Squat jumps x 30 seconds
- Bicycle crunch x 30 seconds
- Jumping jacks x 30 seconds
Rest 60 seconds and repeat twice more to total three laps/12 minutes.
8. Ground to overhead barbell complex
A complex is a series of exercises done back to back and using the same training implement/weight throughout. There are dumbbell, kettlebell, and bodyweight complexes, but barbell complexes are especially useful for bodybuilders as they let you lift bigger weights.
This full-body complex is ideal for finishing off your upper or lower body workouts.
Do five laps of the following sequence, starting each circuit every three minutes.
- Deadlift x 5 reps
- Bent over row x 5 reps
- Hang clean x 5 reps
- Front squat x 5 reps
- Push press x 5 reps
The push-press will probably be your weakest exercise, so use it to determine your training weight for the rest of the complex. For example, if you know you can push-press 60kg/135 lbs. for five reps, that’s the weight you should use for the entire sequence.
9. Run/row one mile
Finishers don’t come much more straightforward than this race against the clock. Simply run or row one mile (1.6km) as fast as you can. Take care not to set off too quickly, as doing so could mean you cannot complete the distance. Similarly, don’t take it too easy, or it won’t be an effective finisher.
Instead, treat it like a race so that, when you reach the end, you feel like you could not have gone any faster.
10. Weighted carry medley
Weighted carries are a great way to build strength and conditioning. They’re also the ideal exercise for finishers. This finisher involves several different weighted carries to spread the workload throughout your body while taxing your cardiovascular system.
Do three laps of the following exercises, resting one minute between circuits. Place two markers about 15 yards apart. Do each loaded carry out and back and then change exercises.
- Dumbbell waiter’s walk (dumbbells held overhead)
- Dumbbell front rack walk (dumbbells held at shoulder level)
- Dumbbell farmer’s walk (dumbbells held at your side)
- Dumbbell goblet walk (one dumbbell held in front of your chest)
Finishers are such powerful training tools that it’s a wonder that they aren’t more popular. The reason that a lot of lifters don’t do finishers is that they’re REALLY tough, and there is no such thing as an easy finisher!
That said, if you want to change your body, you need to challenge it. Nobody ever got stronger, more muscular, or leaner by taking the easy way out!
If the very thought of doing cardio fills you with dread, or you simply don’t have the time to spend 30-40 minutes on an exercise bike 3-4 times a week, finishers could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
Bolt on any of our tried-and-tested finishers to the end of your bodybuilding workouts to get fit, burn fat, and develop some extra mental toughness. And remember, no matter how hard things get, it’s ONLY 15 minutes!
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