Leg finishers are a brutal way to induce serious muscle building, work capacity improvements, and even kick start recovery processes. Strength athletes can benefit from performing these short and intense circuits at the end of a leg workout and can do so in a very fast and efficient manner.
In this article we have designed six (6) leg finisher circuits for strength (and power/fitness) athletes looking to increase muscle hypertrophy, increase work capacity, and enhance strength potentials.
Why are Leg Finisher Circuits Beneficial?
Leg finisher circuits can be helpful to increase muscle damage (to induce muscle hypertrophy), increase recovery from training (over time), and help athletes gain a stronger mindset for enduring long, arduous, and high-intensity training protocols.
6 Leg Finisher Circuits for Strength Athletes?
The below workouts are geared for strength and fitness athletes looking to increase muscle hypertrophy, aid in strength development, and finish a tough training session with a great leg pump. The below finishers can be modified to fit the needs and abilities of every athlete. Note, that these circuits will cause significant amounts of soreness and muscle damage, so be sure to use these far out from competition (preferably during base phases) as they can temporarily impact maximal strength capacities (like most high volume training sessions).
Sled Push (for Distance or Time)
Sled training can be highly beneficial for increase training volume without inducing high amounts of eccentric loading and soreness. By using sleds, you can increase time under tension of the leg muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance properties of the lower body, and even help to restore blood flow to tissues while flushing out metabolic byproducts from a hard training session.
Coaches and athletes can perform sled pushes for a set distance or time sled pushes/pulls with light to moderate loads to increase muscle hypertrophy and kick start the recovery process. Below are a few sled finisher ideas:
- 100 yard sled push, rest 2-3 minutes, 100 yard sled drag, rest 2-3 minutes. Repeat for 2-3 complete rounds
- 45 seconds sled push/pull, rest 45 seconds. Repeat 5-6 total sets
- 20-30 second sled push/pull, every minute, for 8-10 minutes.
Walking Lunges (for Distance or Time)
Walking lunges can be done using a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells (recommend you try double kettlebell front rack walking lunges), or bodyweight. This dynamic movement can help to increase balance, unilateral strength and coordination, and help strength athletes get open-chain movement into their training program. Walking lunges as a finisher can be done for longer duration and/or repetitions ranges, which can also impact cardiovascular fitness. Below are a few walking lunge finisher ideas:
- 100 steps for time, using bodyweight or light weight. You can also get creative and do these with kettlebells, a barbell overhead, asymmetrical loading, etc.
- 1-minute walking lunge, 1-minute rest. Repeat for 3-4 total rounds.
- You can also add lateral lunges, zig zag walking lunges, and other walking lunge variations into you training to improve movement quality and hip functionality using the same protocols as above.
Kettlebell Swings and Air Squats
Kettlebell swings (Russian or American) are dynamic movements that can be highly beneficial for strength and power athletes. By using them within a finisher circuit, you can also increase muscular and cardiovascular fitness. By pairing these with a bodyweight air squat, you can offer strength athletes a complete lower body finisher circuit to target the hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Below are a few kettlebell swing and air squat couplet ideas:
- Tabata: 20 seconds on, 1 seconds off, repeated 8 times. Start with the kettlebell swing for the first 20 seconds window, rest 10 seconds, and then perform air squats (or goblet squats if you would like) for the next 20 seconds, and then rest 10 seconds. Repeat that 4 more times, for a total of 4 minutes.
- 10 minute EMOM – Complete 20 kettlebell swings in the first minute, 20 air squats second minute, for a total of 5 complete rounds.
Air Bike Intervals
Air bikes are not only for fitness athletes. Using the air bike to warm-up, as active recovery, AND as a leg finisher are all options a strength (and power) athlete has their disposal. Below are a few air bike leg finisher circuit ideas to increase hypertrophy, power output, and muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
- 10-minute EMOM – Perform a 10-20 seconds all out sprint on the bike, every minute, for 10 minutes.
- 100 calories for time
- 30-20-10 Effort (4-minute tempo ride, 1-minute rest, for 2 complete rounds) – The four-minute tempo ride can be broken down into four, one-minute frames. Within each one-minute frame, the lifter should perform 30 seconds at a moderate pace, 20 seconds at a more aggressive pace, and 10 seconds at maximal effort. Repeat the 30-20-10 format for 4 minutes, then rest 1 minute. Repeat for a total of two rounds, or 10-minutes
100-Reps of Bulgarian Split Squats
This is a very simple finisher…on paper. Bulgarian split squats are a great movement to increase glute, hamstring, and quadriceps development, address asymmetries and muscle imbalances, and can help to increase muscle activation due to the unilateral nature of the movement.
- Perform 100 Bulgarian split squats, for time, using bodyweight or an empty barbell. Split reps evenly (so 50 total, per leg). Once you can perform 50 unbroken repetitions per leg, add 5lbs.
Mini-Band Walks and Shuffles
Mini-band walks are often used in warm-up segments to activate the glutes and enhance movement for squats and pulls. Sometimes, athletes and coaches can become less diligent in their warm-up and corrective pursuits (I too am guilty of this), so performing mini-band leg finisher circuits is a great way to end a training session with a great leg and glute pump AND build in some correctives/activation work. Below is a mini-band swing finisher circuit, in which you can perform 2-3 total rounds:
- Lateral Mini-Band Walk (straight legs, no knee bend) x 20 steps / side
- Mini-Band Air Squat x 20
- Mini-Band Hip Raise x 20
Featured Image: @atrain4240 via @rowanke on Instagram