Lowest Possible Volume

What would be your 531 training plan for the week, if you would have to do the lowest volume workout possible that still in your opinion would produce progress. Also please explain the reasoning behind your idea and why you are not currently doing exactly what you wrote?

5s pro mainwork with a FSL widowmaker for supplemental.

2 days a week of conditioning. 1 day is prowler. Other is a circuit workout of swings, dips and chins

I don’t train like this because doing more gets me more results and I have the time to do that. But if I didn’t have the time, this is what I would do.


Ah so you would incorporate some assistance and back work into conditioning day, yes?

I would do a circuit of swings, dips and chins. I did this recently with burpee chins. 10 swings-5burpee chins-10 swings-8 dips for 40 minutes

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Thats good stuff.
Im looking how to drop as much volume as possible, and i like your idea of incorporating stuff as conditioning. I could do lunges and swings, for example, as a circuit and i wouldnt have to make my squat and deadlift days packed with more barbell work.

I think just doing the 5/3/1 sets every week, with the last set being the plus set would probably be the minimum that would produce results. I think your numbers would all continue to climb that way.

I don’t train this way because I care about maximally developing every part of my physique. Improving the raw numbers alone is sweet, but it’s not my primary goal.

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So not even supplemental work or any assistance? You think just doing original 531 is enough, yes?

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I haven’t really experimented that with myself, but that is one of the templates Jim has in the 5/3/1 second edition book, and his personal favorite. So if Jim says it works, I’m inclined to believe him.

Yea i know about it being in the first books, its just that - if that was the way, why do people spend so much time on supplemental and assistance?
But yea, i hope you and Jim are right, as i am looking to drop the barbell work volume low as possible to stay fresh for other things in my life but i still want to progress at this. Its just that if i focus too much on pushing strenght training, i fry my system a bit, i get depressed, i lose enthusiasm for stuff etc.

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What I like to do when I’m really short on time is, hit the 5/3/1 sets at the gym, then later at home do chins and dips and some exercises with resistance bands like curls, lateral raises, Tricep extensions, Band pullaparts, and good mornings. I think that’s a really good compromise.

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Lowest volume or quickest?

Lowest volume - I ain’t doing jack. That’s just your 531 lift and done.
I’ve done this and progress is slow. I increased every other month. But there is progress. I was a much newer trainer as well. Would it work now? Not so sure.

If I were to do 531 now for minimum volume I’d do about the same but I’d do fsl. Maybe max reps, maybe 5x5 or 3x8.


I currently go to the gym two or at most three times a week. When I train twice, I do bench press and cleaning in one day and shoulder press and squat / already / in the other. If I have three workouts a week I just bench press and clean up on separate days. Most to include in the first workout triceps exercise and biceps exercise in the second. Maybe recruitment. The interesting thing is that I start to like myself more in the mirror when I train like that. I have one week left to finalize the second cycle. But I also try to burn a lot of fat, which is why I don’t think I need workouts with a lot of extra exercises outside of the main ones.
My template is 5,5,5+ and 5x5 FSL, 3,3,3+ and 5x5 FSL, 5,3,1+ and 5x5 FSL. On the bench press and the shoulder press, the set “+” is always equal to a rejection, which means I can’t do one more repetition, even in bad shape.
But I train this way, I’m not saying it’s the best option. I like it and I follow it.

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I usually do that once or twice a week. Hit main + supplemental, go home and do some assistance later that night.

Makes it much easier to digest.

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Time is not an issue. Workload is. Im just wondering what would be the least volume on everything one could do and still expect progress.
We have lots of research on optimal volume, sure - but not a lot of research on least effective volume.

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The lowest volume I have done was when I was prepping for an important boxing match. It looked like this;

5’s pro (with PR set). So; 5, 5, 5+ Assistance was always between 30-50 reps as below;

Squat + chins & leg raises
Bench + Rows & dips
Deadlift + Pulldowns & pulldown abs
Press + chins & db presses.

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I’m thinking of doing that due to work hours changing and time constraints or perhaps doing the main work+ supplemental on one day and the next day doing the accessory work sets.

Does anyone think there would be detrimental effects of taking a 4 day 5/3/1 routine and splitting into 6 days (2 days as is and other 4 are split like above)?

I think it would be fine to do accessory on other days as long as you aren’t eating into your recovery any significant amount. You could also extend the week to be 8 or 9 days long if you needed so you didn’t have to rush/divide workouts.

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It really depends on your goal. You can only do “jacksh!t” for so long. You will need accessory work. Just do the minimum reps required on the main list in less and then do the accessory work afterwards.