What Are "Extras", and my Suggestions

Originally Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:55 PM
If you take a look at my programing for the Intermediate lifters, you see "Extras" on the bottom of the page.  What are extras, why do them, and which ones do I do?

Extras are the little things you do in addition to the program which will make you a better lifter.  I like the idea of doing these throughout the day, but if you only have time at the end of a workout, do them then.  Extras do NOT include things like the bench press; pressing is an integral part of training my lifters, and I bench for specific reasons.  generally, any cycle I write has a version of the press:  Incline, flat, or military; dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells.  So, the bench is NOT an extra, although you could use it as such.  Westside Barbell folks (http://www.westside-barbell.com/westside-articles/PDF.Files/03PDF/Extra%20Workouts.pdf)  will recognize the concept of "Extra Workouts", or stuff you do during off times which helps you recover, get stronger, and improve.

Why do they work or help?  Well, for many reasons.  Increasing your blood flow, stimulating muscle growth, focusing on a weak area, improving conditioning, etc.  They also work because, in general, they're fun to do.  Extras don't require the intensity a heavy clean does, nor do they give you the bone-crushing soreness heavy deadlifts can generate.  In fact, they can alleviate that soreness.  Basically, though, extras work because of increased blood flow and strengthening weak areas.  You can go do more research for specific reasons, but trust me; if you don't, go read the article I linked to above.  It's a start and will lead you to other pieces and questions and answers; in a quest, that's what happens.

If you do your extras at the end of a workout, try to do something which will help you recover from that day's lifting.  Here are my thoughts on these:

Stability Ball Push-Up on heavy snatch days (rings or blast straps work, too).
Blast strap scapula pull-ups on clean days (I finish these into the full movement, focusing on keeping my shoulders down (no shrug) and moving the scapulae first.
Curls. Yes, curls.  Dumbbells curls with full rotation of the wrist work nicely.  Do a couple heavy sets of 10, or 5x5.  Whatever you want.  I also like thick bar curls for a few sets of 10.
Tricep Extensions with a plate in your hands or a dumbbell
One-legged squats or one leg deadlifts.  You don't need weight to do these, but a kettlebell or med ball is fine.  
Sled Drags on heavy squat days.  You will feel better.  

I also like bodyweight stuff as extras, expecially for the strongman, Olympic Lifter, powerlifter, and thrower.  Bodyweight exercises are a different organism than what we usually do, and they will improve you overall.
Pull-ups (use a band if you can't do them; do sets of 5-10).  NEVER kip a pull-up.
Push-ups; yeah, I like these a lot.  Blast Strap push-ups are great, as are regular ones.  Keep them simple; sets of 10-20 are fine for 1-3 sets.
tumbling/ rolling of some kind.  Do some front rolls in the back yard or on a mat; do some backward rolls, cartwheels, something. Move your ass.
Glute Ham raises

If you're fat and need to lose weight, do some complexes/ finishers as extras.  Also, if you feel you need better endurance, do some of these, too.  WARNING:  for the power and strength athletes out there, don't go 100% out on these.  You want to be powerful and fast, not dead tired.  Do these at about 80% of your capacity.  That doesn't mean lower the weight or volume, just don't crush yourself.  You have nothing to prove until the zombies come.
kettlebell swings
jump rope ladders
barbell or kettlebell complexes
sprints up a hill

As for stuff to do during the day, try to throw in some reverse hypers and grip work.  Again, nothing too serious, just get the blood flowing and strength going.  

Since we are not professional athletes for the most part, remember your time commitment.  Don't spend twenty hours a day in the gym.  Do your workout, throw in some sprints and tumbling one day, some pull ups and curls another, some tricep extensions and glute ham raises another time.  It'll add five minutes to your workout and you'll feel better.  Also, remember that these are extras and not the workout itself.  No one really cares how much you can curl, and only Randy Strossen cares if you can crush a number 3.5 gripper.  The rest of us just want to feel better and be stronger.

Michael McKennaComment