Burnout sets at the end of already-intense training sessions may be excruciating, but they are a great tool to really rip up a few more muscle fibers with a little more volume without much added central nervous system detriment and move you towards more thorough muscular development through the incorporation of much higher repetitions, a different array of circulating metabolites, and absolute maximum circulation of blood throughout the muscles, which is always beneficial.
Remember, every muscle has several different fiber types designed to facilitate different types of force, and each fiber type has to be stressed by exactly that type of force in order to be stimulated, stressed, and rebuilt stronger. Otherwise, every athlete would look and perform the same regardless of training focus; endurance athletes, powerlifters, and bodybuilders alike would be equally strong, muscular, and able to run a marathon.
So, to put it simply, for those of us seeking the fullest possible muscular development, it is only logical to apply a range of different stressors to summon every fiber type we possibly can specifically. Otherwise, one literally has fewer muscle fibers growing.
Below is my current personal rotation of lactic-acid-laden workout finishers, organized by body part focus – try them out! If you follow something other than a legs/push/pull split, just place individual exercises where appropriate; in other words, match them to workouts with the same movement patterns, not only to appropriately compound the muscle stress, but also to follow recovery laws by not ripping up muscles you’re planning on training tomorrow with a burnout today.
Finishers for Leg Day
Split squat drop-set: Use a relatively light weight for as many reps as you can on the first leg, quickly strip 5-10lbs, do it again on the same leg, then reload the original weight and repeat on the other leg. Go ALL the way down and maintain constant tension without locking out at the top… pushing through pain is actually easier without the tease of relief, plus you burn out faster this way. Pro-tip: Make sure you actually count these reps even though it’s a burnout so you can be sure to match reps on each leg!
Switch jumps to burnout: Bonus explosive capacity work! Two sets.
Alternate on the following leg day with:
Walking lunges: as with the split squats, use a relatively light weight for as many reps as you can. Two sets.
Switch jumps to burnout: As above. Two sets.
Finisher for Push Day
Push-up variation drop-set: regular push-ups to failure, followed by incline push-ups to burnout, followed by regular diamond push-ups to failure, followed by incline diamond push-ups to burnout! Be sure to use a full range of motion, especially on the incline sets because you really feel the inner chest activation at the very top of each rep.
Finishers for Pull Day
Farmer’s carry with dumbbells, plates, or kettlebells (or an actual farmer’s carry if you happen to have access to them): enough weight to really tax your grip and traps/upper back at around the same time, but not so heavy that your grip fails long before your traps really start to burn. Two sets. Pro-tip: Headphone/earbud cords get offensively annoying here… either go without or experiment with different methods of hanging them over your back.
Forearm burnout with resistance band: shouldn’t take long after those farmer’s carries! Hit all the angles back to back until you can barely flick the wrist into another rep: extensions, reverse extensions, neutral grip up AND down. LOOKATTHAFLICKATHAWRIST!