Westside Extra Workouts | The Ultimate Guide!


The Westside Barbell powerlifting team trains 4 days per week using an upper body / lower body split. Here is their exact training split:

The Westside Barbell Training Split

  • Sunday: Dynamic effort bench press
  • Monday: Max effort squat / deadlift
  • Wednesday: Max effort bench press
  • Friday: Dynamic effort squat / deadlift

This split works extremely well for many powerlifters. However, the head coach Louie Simmons believes that you have to train more than 4 times per week if you want to compete against the best powerlifters in the world.

Louie Simmons tells his athletes to perform extra mini-workouts throughout the week. Louie calls these “extra workouts.”

Extra workouts are short, 20-30 minute workouts that you perform in addition to your primary powerlifting workouts. They are used to build muscle mass, increase your work capacity and attack weak muscle groups.

These workouts are also used to speed up your recovery from your primary workouts.

Here is the Westside guru Matt Wenning giving a great overview of Westside-style extra workouts:

Here is Matt Wenning breaking it down for us:

“Mini-workouts need to be short, concise and most importantly they need to be low intensity. You have to be going for a nice slight burn and it has to help you recover form your previous workouts.

Mini-workouts need to be looked at as a restorative process. How do we do that? We have to keep the intensity very low.”

Matt is exactly right! The extra workouts should be easier than your primary workouts. You are going to go to the gym and perform 2-3 exercises with very light weights and high repetitions.

If you perform the extra workout correctly then you should actually recover faster from your main heavy workouts.

The extra workouts should also be geared towards your individual weaknesses. Check it out:

“Mini-workouts should focus on weaknesses. Weaknesses can be muscles, energy systems problem, mobility or even flexibility problems.

You can use mini-workouts to work on stretching to be more mobile and better prepared for the next workout.”

If your triceps, hamstrings or any other muscle group needed extra work then you could focus on them during your extra workouts.

Matt Wenning says that there are 5 reasons to do extra workouts in your training. Check it out:

Matt Wenning’s 5 Reasons To Do Extra-Workouts

  • Advantage #1: Reduces muscle soreness
  • Advantage #2: Enhances muscle growth
  • Advantage #3: Increase ligament tendon density
  • Advantage #4: Correct motor patterns
  • Advantage #5: Focus on concentric contractions

As you can see extra workouts are a very versatile training method! Here is Matt Wenning breaking it down for you in case you can’t watch the whole video:

“Mini-workouts should reduce soreness, enhance muscle soreness, increase ligament and tendon density, correct motor patterns and increase your concentric training volume.

These workouts should not be longer than 20-30 minutes and should be 6 hours before or after your workouts.”

Now let’s look at some sample extra workouts.

As a general rule of thumb you want to pick 2-3 exercises and perform 2-4 sets of 10-25 reps per exercise. Here are some upper body extra workouts that you could try. Check it out:

Sample upper body extra workouts

  • Workout #1: Lat pulldowns, rolling dumbbell extensions
  • Workout #2: Bamboo bar bench press, reverse pec dec
  • Workout #3: Seated cable rows, plate front raises, band pushdowns
  • Workout #4: Flat DB press, cable rope face pull

The key is to pick exercises based on your individual weak points.

If your triceps and upper back were holding back your bench press then that is what you would focus on. On the other hand if you had weak shoulders then you may want to focus more on different kinds of shoulder raises or high-rep dumbbell presses.

Louie Simmons often had his athletes perform high-rep band pushdowns if they had weak triceps. Louie would tell his athletes to perform 100 reps of band pushdowns on their off days.

Many Westside athletes have increased their bench press by 50 pounds in 6 months using this extra workout strategy!

Now let’s look at some extra workouts for the squat and deadlift. Check it out:

Sample lower body extra workouts

  • Workout #1: Inverse leg curl, reverse hyperextension
  • Workout #2: Forward sled drags, back attack machine
  • Workout #3: Belt squat, glute ham raise, hanging leg raise
  • Workout #4: Lat pulldown, 45 degree back extensions, band leg curls

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs exercises for their posterior chain, abs and upper back during their lower body extra workouts. Again you would pick your exercises based on your individual weaknesses.

The powerlifter Dave Tate used to perform tons of extra workouts for his hamstrings using the glute ham raise while other powerlifters like Chuck Vogelpohl focused more on lat pulldowns and reverse hyperextensions.

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Conclusion

The bottom line is extra workouts are an extremely effective training tool. If you are an intermediate or advanced powerlifter then I strongly recommend you give them a shot.

Just make sure you keep the intensity of these workouts relatively low. You don’t want your extra workouts to negatively impact your primary workouts! 

“This is the conjugate system. If there is one break in the chain, you fail.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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