Losing fat is simple –
You need a calorie deficit.
That’s pretty much it.
Obviously there is a little more to it – getting ample protein, giving your muscles enough stimulus through weight training so that you preserve mass, keeping your carbs high enough for energy and recovery, and maintaining a healthy fat intake, but apart from that it’s all about calories.
So when you hit a plateau, you either cut calories or add cardio.
Thing is, sometimes doing these sucks.
Perhaps you’re already on low macros and struggling with hunger and cravings, or you might already be doing three cardio sessions a week, and just not have time to add in another steady state session.
I hear you.
Fortunately, there is a third way to go about things, reinstate that calorie deficit, and kick-start fat loss again.
Not just that, but you’ll get fitter and gain strength in the process. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot more fun than spending an hour on the treadmill or having to get rid of your weekly refeeds.
Let me introduce you to heavy-ass finishers …
“What is a Finisher?”
A finisher, as the name suggests, is performed at the end of your workout.
It’s kind of like a circuit, but instead of just beasting yourself with a random collection of moves, you pick exercises that replicate your weight training (so we’re talking compound barbell and dumbbell moves, as well as other drills that compliment your strength work.)
Reps are kept low, as is the rest time, but the weights are heavy, meaning you can build some serious strength and up your work capacity in not much time at all.
I’ve got three heavy fat loss finishers for you here – one based around barbells, another with dumbbells, and a final one that’s a bit of a mix if you fancy really changing things up and having some fun with your finishers.
Heavy-Ass Finisher #1: Brutal Barbell Complex
Grab a bar and load it up with plates. (I’d suggest starting with a weight that’s roughly your 10 rep max for overhead press.) Perform –
- 8 deadlifts
- 8 clean and push presses
- 8 front squats
- 8 bent over rows
Put the bar down, give yourself 90 seconds of rest, then go again and shoot for 5 rounds in total.
This complex works a charm, but if you want to vary it up slightly, try changing the load and reps, so you’d do –
- 10 reps each using your OHP 12 rep max.
- 6 reps each using your OHP 8 rep max.
- 4 reps each using your OHP 6 rep max.
Heavy-Ass Finisher #2: Dumbbell Drop Ladder
This isn’t too dissimilar from the barbell finisher, but we’re switching to dumbbells and doing something funky with the reps.
- 10 dumbbell lunges each leg
- 10 double dumbbell front squats
- 10 push presses
- 10 pushups (with hands on the dumbbells) into renegade rows.
While you’re starting with 10 reps in round one, you drop the reps by 1 each round, so your second time through would have you doing 9 reps, then 8 reps, and so on until your final round of just 1 rep on each.
As a weight gauge, the first round should be about an RPE 9. (That’s an effort level of 9 out of 10) and each subsequent round about the same – even down to the single rep round. If you find you have to put the dumbbells down mid-set, or need to take longer than 45 seconds rest, you probably went too heavy.
Heavy-Ass Finisher #3: On the Clock
Set a timer to beep at 30-second intervals and perform –
- Kettlebell swings
- Spiderman pushups
- Bodyweight split squats (each leg)
Grab a 60-second breather and repeat four more times. As you get fitter you can choose more challenging exercises, go for longer on each, or reduce your rest.
(Hint: If you have access to a sled or prowler, then some sprints with this, along with some medicine ball slams and any other exercises is a killer!)
The Round Up: Go Hard or Go Home
Without meaning to get into the typical bro mantra of “no pain, no gain” finishers really are a time for not leaving anything on the table.
Your goal is to perform a high volume of work in not a lot of time, so you’ve got to really go for it. As you’re doing these at the end of a weights workout, you don’t need too much of a warmup, so get in the zone and just do your thing for 15 to 20 minutes.
It might be tough, but it beats a 6am fasted session on the Stairmaster.
Mike Samuels runs online coaching business Healthy Living Heavy Lifting.
He loves flexible dieting and specializes in getting clients lean while eating cake and ice cream!
Mike has competed in men’s fitness and bodybuilding competitions, and is also a record holder in the Great British Powerfliting Federation.
You can contact him at –