The “Closers”: 5 Ways To Finish Your Workouts Strong!

Sometimes, it feels like you’ve had 95 percent of a great workout. Which is better than nothing, but still... Here’s how to hit the 100-percent mark with 5 different body parts.

"Leave it all on the field," high school coaches like to snarl at their young charges.

Unfortunately, at the gym, there's not always a guy standing there in tight stretch-knit shorts and a polo shirt, lording over your every move with a whistle dangling from his lips like a Marlboro.

At least not where we train, anyway. (And for that, we're grateful.)

Maybe your training partner will push you past your known limits, but sometimes they can actually hold you back. That is, if you even have a training partner.

Fortunately, a series of intensity-boosting strategies, properly employed at the end of your workout, can completely exhaust your energy stores. Every last muscle fiber will have been torched, and from there, let the growth begin.

Let's go through the major body parts, with the perfect "closer" for each one:

Chest: Learning to fly... and press

Most gyms have adjustable benches, allowing you to change the angle of the incline. If your gym has one, time to grab it. Bring dumbbells with you, choosing a pair of moderate weight for you.

Begin with the bench inclined to the highest position where you can still feel your chest working. (Too high and your delts take over.) From this position set, do as many sets of dumbbell flyes as possible.

Dumbbell Flyes
Dumbbell Flyes
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Dumbbell Flyes

If you done more than 20 reps, you should've gone a little heavier: if you did fewer than 8, you need to lighten your load.

Once you hit failure on the flyes, do a set of dumbbell presses using this same angle.

Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Bench Press
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Dumbbell Bench Press

Once you reach failure on the presses, lower the angle of the incline by a notch. Go through the same exercise-and-rep scheme again.

Repeat this process until you have set the bench to flat and you've have reached failure on the flat presses.

So the drill would go like this:

  • High-Incline Dumbbell Fly followed by High-Incline Dumbbell Press: 1 set to failure
  • Moderate-Incline Dumbbell Fly followed by Moderate-Incline Dumbbell Press: 1 set to failure
  • Flat Bench Dumbbell Fly followed by Flat Bench Press: 1 set to failure

Back: Build yourself a barn door

Head over to the seated row machine for some rest-pause action. Start with a weight that you should consider moderate to heavy.

If you fail at fewer than 8 reps starting out, go lighter. If you can do more than 20, add weight.

Seated Cable Rows
Seated Cable Rows
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Seated Cable Rows

Do rows until you achieve failure, then count to five. Immediately, do as many more reps as you can using the same weight. Once you reach failure for the second time, lower your poundage by 25 percent.

For example, if you start with 200 pounds, drop to 150. After change the weight, count to 5 again and resume lifting.

Once you reach failure, count to five again and then go for more reps with the same weight.

Now you've reached failure for the second time with the second weight. Lower the weight by another 50 pounds, which puts you at 100 pounds. Take 5 seconds and keep going.

One more 5-second rest before pushing out your final reps with the 100s. You're done, except maybe for the nightmares you'll experience about seated rows from now on.

If you prefer, you can also go through this same drill with lat pull-downs.

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
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Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Quick Recap:

    • Seated Cable Row: Heavy until failure; rest pause; resume to failure.
    • Strip 25 percent of weight, repeat.
    • Strip 25 percent of weight, repeat to failure.

Shoulders: Cap off your gains

Now we're going to blast the delts to finish off shoulder day. Grab a pair of dumbbells that would be considered light to moderate and stand with feet shoulder-width apart, a soft bend in your knees.

You're going to do a front dumbbell raise with the left arm and then immediately do a side lateral raise. Once you've done this with your left arm, immediately do the same with your right arm.

Front Dumbbell Raise
Front Dumbbell Raise
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Front Dumbbell Raise

After that, you'll do front raises with both arms at the same time, then repeat with your left arm only.

So, In Short, It Will Look Like This:

    • Left Arm Front Raise
    • Left Arm Side Raise
    • Right Arm Front Raise
    • Right Arm Side Raise
    • Both Arms Front Raise
    • Both Arms Side Raise. Repeat.

Continue doing this until you reach failure. You'll be surprised how much your delts will burn if you do this right.

As you approach failure, you may be tempted to speed up your reps.

Don't! It'll burn now, but your delts will benefit in the long run.

Legs: Build pillars of strength

Load the leg press machine with moderate-to-heavy weight. Ideally, you'll have a training partner to help you strip plates as the "finisher" unfolds, but you can also fly solo.

Leg Press
Leg Press
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Leg Press

Start with your feet high and close together, targeting hamstrings. Once your feet are set, rep to failure.

Rack the weight and reset your feet wide and low on the platform, shifting emphasis to the quads.

Unrack and bang out as many reps as you can.

Once you hit failure, take a plate off each side of the machine and place your feet back in the high/close position. Repeat the pattern you started out with, going to failure and then changing your foot position.

As you hit failure each time after hitting quads, strip another plate. Keep going until you're down to a single plate on each side and have reached failure with that weight.

So it should go like this:

  • Heaviest weight: Feet high and close, rack; feet low and wide, rack: 1 set to failure
  • Strip a plate per side: Feet high and close, rack; feet low and wide, rack: 1 set to failure
  • Strip another plate per side: Feet high and close, rack; feet low and wide, rack: 1 set to failure
  • Continue till you have only once plate per side left and you reach failure with feet low and wide: 1 set to failure

Don't worry about walking out of the gym feeling as if you didn't give it your all. Just be concerned about whether you can walk out at all!

Arms: Provide your guns with a few more rounds of ammo

Sidle up to a cable station, partner. Have an EZ Handle at the bottom pulley and a rope at the top. Set the pin to a moderate weight. Prepare for a 110-rep marathon that your upper arms will not soon forget.

Standing Biceps Cable Curl
Standing Biceps Cable Curl
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Standing Biceps Cable Curl

Start by cranking out 10 reps on the EZ-Handle cable curls. As soon as you finish the curls, grab the rope and bang out 10 rope press-downs.

Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment
Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment
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Triceps Push-down - Rope Attachment

Now go back to the bottom and grab the EZ handle. Now you're going to do 9 reps. No rest-grab the bar and go! When you do 9 reps, switch back to the rope and do 9 more press-downs.

Are your arms screaming for mercy yet?

You can probably guess what comes next. Go back to the biceps and do 8 reps of the curls, followed by 8 reps with the rope.

Continue by you dropping 1 rep each time you complete a round, until you're down to 1 rep for each movement.

In total, you will have done 55 reps (add 1 through 10 together) each for biceps and triceps, or 110 reps total.

If for some reason you get to one, and realize you have more in you, then go back to the curls and do as many reps as possible until you reach failure.

Immediately afterward, do the same for triceps. This will ensure you get the job done.

In short, here's what you do:

Cable curls and rope press-downs:

    • 10 reps each
    • 9 reps each
    • 8 reps each
    • 7 reps each
    • 6 reps each
    • 5 reps each
    • 4 reps each
    • 3 reps each
    • 2 reps each
    • 1 reps each

If you're a glutton for punishment, do one more set to total failure for both movements.

Now are you finished? Thought so.