PT on the Net Research

5 Joint Friendly Finishers

If you’re looking to ramp up fat loss results and improve conditioning finishers are one of the most effective and efficient uses of your time with clients.  The problem with most finishers is their high impact nature.  In this article we will cover 5 joint friendly finishers you can use with any client.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Find creative ways to introduce finisher to your workouts without using high impact exercises.
  2. Recognize the benefits of placing finishers in a program both for results and psychologically for clients.
  3. Provide ideas that will spark creativity in workout finisher program design.

5 Joint Friendly Finishers

As a trainer and coach most of you have limited time and high expectations from your clients.

You’re expected to deliver huge fat loss results in just a few short-training sessions a week. Even under the best circumstances that can be a challenge!

Then you throw in all the things that typically get in your way as a trainer including your client’s busy schedules, changing their nutritional habits, and life putting obstacle after obstacle in their way.

If you hope to create some big changes in your clients’ physiques and help them reach those big goals you have to maximize your efforts in each and every session. 

Training programs that create a huge metabolic demand are the ones that produce the best results.  There are dozens of ways to increase the metabolic demand, and thus caloric expenditure of your clients both in the session and in the calories burned outside of the session through EPOC and an increase in lean, active muscle tissue.

But, today we are going to focus on the last few minutes of a session…

The Finisher!

Why in world would be focus on such a small piece of the overall puzzle?

Great question!

Psychologically it is easier to get a client to push themselves to the limits for a short period of time at the end of a workout.  

Most people will naturally hold back and leave a ‘little in the tank’ during their workout.  It is challenging to push yourself for an entire workout, especially if you aren’t a fitness nut. 

Asking for 5-10 minutes of intense work to cap off a training session is a much easier sell, and better for the client than ‘red-lining’ for the entire session.

It will also leave the client with a sense of accomplishment.  This will empower them in the time between the sessions and give them a little boost in their energy.  Even if they are wiped out at the end of the workout!

It’s also important to take into consideration the power of high intensity training or high intensity interval training. 

Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is highest in high intensity strength training and high intensity interval training (1).  By including both in the same session you can get the benefits of an increased calorie burn between workouts.  While the extra calories burned may not be large, when you are attempting to maximize time and get quick results for your clients it all matters.

Here’s the problem though…

Most finishers are set up with high impact, stressful movements. 

It can take time to learn how to perform the movements well enough to do them correctly (and safely) in a fatigued state. 

Consider the kind of shape your typical client is in when they come to see you.  Most of them are deconditioned, fighting joint pain and have limited movement and mobility. 

So, it only makes sense to throw them right into some jump squats and plyo push ups right?

Fortunately with so many tools and resources available to you it’s possible to get the training results you’re looking for and still deliver a safe finisher for clients that are battling joint pain and mobility issues.

5 Joint Friendly Finishers

When setting up joint friendly finishers consider the following:

Here are some of my favorite joint-friendly finishers you can use with your clients:

Battling Rope Intervals

Battle ropes are a great way to condition your clients and create a challenging finisher without beating up the joints, especially the lower body. 

Even clients with shoulder or elbow pain can use rope variations in their finishers by reducing the range of motion or changing the wave variation you are using.

A simple 10-20 second work period followed by a 30-40s rest period for 5-10 minutes on the battle ropes can produce great results.   The client can vary the wave or technique used as needed.

If you want to supercharge a battle rope finisher combine a rope wave variation with a lower body movement or isometric hold to ramp up the intensity. 

A favorite variation of mine is to combine hip thrusts or hip extensions with rope waves.

For example: 


A big benefit to this finisher is the movement of the client from a standing position to the ground and back up again.   Anytime you can train a client to lower themselves the ground and get back up it is an added benefit for many reasons.

Goblet Squat to Inchworm Countdown


This combination countdown enhances some basic movement patterns and mobility issues. 

To perform this finisher select your starting rep range for your goblet squats.  Beginning with 5-6 reps is sufficient and you can progress the client by adding reps as needed.

Perform 6 reps of the goblet squat, on the sixth rep stay in the bottom of the squat and set the kettlebell or dumbbell down to the ground with control.  The implement will be setting between the feet under the hips. 

From this position place the hands on the ground and lift your hips so that the body is in a position to start an inchworm.

Walk the hands out to a push-up plank or high plank position.  For advanced clients or stronger clients they can perform a push up.  For very advanced clients perform the same number of push ups as squats performed. 

Once the client has completed the push up(s) or held the high plank for a 2-3 count walk the hands back in towards the feet.

As the hands reach the feet squat back down and under control curl and lift the kettlebell or dumbbell back to the goblet position.

That is the first set of the countdown.  To complete the finisher reduce the reps by one for each set until the final set of one rep is completed. 

It’s deceivingly challenging!

Carry/Crawl Complexes


Talk about your basic foundational movements!  This is really simple.

Pick any carry variation including farmer carries, waiters walks, goblet carries, shouldered carries, etc.  The implement used and style isn’t important.

Next pick any crawling variation, which can include a standing or supine cross crawl (if you are familiar).   Again the variation isn’t important.

The key to selecting your variations is to make them client specific to help improve strength or stability issues that may be present.

Feel free to mix and match a variety of carry and crawling variations in the same finisher.  Creating a medley can be a fun finisher, especially for groups.

Once you have selected the variations pick a distance and have the client complete a carry for a distance or time followed by a crawl for a distance or time.

The goal is to complete the carry and crawl with as little rest between sets as needed.

Sandbag Carry/Squat Combo


Using a sandbag to flow from one movement to the next in complexes and combos as well as the ability to modify movements to a clients needs puts them at the top of the list for conditioning tools. 

The carry/squat combo presents a unique challenge for many clients, even at the most basic level.  For starters the time under tension is incredible which enhances the metabolic demand and impact of this finisher.

Start with a bear hug or front loaded hold position with the sandbag.  Once the sandbag is in place perform a prescribed number of squats and then proceed to carry for time or distance.  Without setting the sandbag down have the client repeat this for either a countdown or prescribed number of sets.

An example countdown:

To add some variety you can mix it up:

Change the carry variations, sets and reps as needed for the client.  


Yoga Flow

After experiencing a few yoga sessions it was obvious that many of the traditional yoga poses have crossed over into the fitness world. 

While yoga poses may not be used in traditional finishers for some clients you can create a great metabolic workout that doesn’t beat them up, will help them move better and recover faster.

Create a flow of movements that the client will move through holding each position for 10-30s focusing on getting in the right positions, understanding body position and creating awareness. 

Creating a flow doesn’t require you to be an expert yogi!  Using bodyweight movements and mobility drills can serve the same purpose. 

Pair up 5-8 bodyweight movements that allow for smooth transitions to create your own flow.

Squat to inchworm to spiderman step to push up to downward dog is a simple and great start. 


The more comfortable you get with pairing up movements and the stronger your clients get the more creative you are able to be with the flow. 

Hopefully, these 5 joint friendly finishers sparked some creativity in you and will inspire you to create your own metabolically challenging finishers.   Give a few of these a try for yourself and with your clients if you need a way to deliver quick results in minimal time.


Elliot, D.L., Goldberg, L., & Kuehl, K.S. (1992). Effect of resistance training on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Applied Sport Science Research, 6 (2), 77–81.