Minimalist Powerlifting. Am I the Only One?

Hello, ive been lifting for over 8 years and for the last 8 months I’ve been exclusively only using 4 lifts - bench, squat, deadlift and barbell row for my routine and only changing the sets/reps/frequency to keep things fresh which is helpful as I’m lifting in an old coal cellar with 6.2ft ceilings haha so can’t overhead press due to crappy elbows and ceiling lol

Only recently I’ve decided to put facepulls and cheat curls in for my only accessory work.

This routine is very enjoyable for me and fits my schedule perfectly and to add to that I’ve made tremendous strength and size gains by only focussing on 2 lifts per session.

My curiosity is I can’t be the only one that trains minamilistic for powerlifting/strength training surely?

I’d like to hear your thoughts :slight_smile:


My squat routine is squats and front squats. I’ve always found doing less works better for me.

Well, lots of 531 programs are set up simmilary.

I would love to do it this way also but my body is very against me training for strenght so there is no way i can do more than 1 set of deadlifts a week, so i have to look for alternative lifts.

Also, it is studied that the gains are a bit better when you use more than 1 movement for a certain strenght position.
If you can do deads and squats, you can also do good mornings and lunges. Just sayin.
But yea, understand the fun in doing just 1 exercise - i would if i could.

I’m no powerlifting expert, nor have I competed as one. So I’m just chiming in with an observation. I have read about several minimalist powerlifters. Sometimes Kirk Karwoski’s squat sessions consisted of only squats. If I recall correctly he trained only once per week for his final meet with only the big three in one session. I forgot the name, but there was a world record holder who trained only twice per week.

I followed a relatively “minimalist routine” for my last several years of competitive powerlifting. The specificity was great for strength gains but I feel it was detrimental from a longevity standpoint. I’d be careful about sticking with a minimalist routine for the long term for that reason.

*The minimalist routine I was doing was focused on the main powerlifts with only small variations as assistance. For example, long pause bench, touch and go bench, or board presses are some of the variations I’d do on the main movement. From a basic movement perspective though they are all still bench presses.

add in OHP and I did this for 6 years straight.

started with stronglifts 5x5 for 6 months then moved onto 5/3/1.

1 Like

Remembered that Malanichev used to do a routine which was basically squat, bench, deadlift. I think the only the thing he did was light inclines to stretch his shoulders (125lbs lol), and weighted situps.


Look up Korte 3x3. It doesn’t get more minimalist or brutal.

Its based on experience. The more years of consistent training, the more you need the bodybuilding stuff over main lifts.

When you’re getting started, you need volume in both. Refining technique is important. Putting on size is important.

The longer you are in this the more you’ll find the volume going up in bodybuilding and focusing more on technique with the heavier weights as repeated high volume in main lifts will stop working.

Injuries and aches/pains are gonna catch up if you’ve pushed your limits. You’ll realize you gotta back off volume in main lifts. Using more isolation movements will continue putting on size and extend your competitive career.


I’ve mentioned Candito’s linear program here. It’s pretty minimalist - the main effort is 3X6 in the main lifts once a week, supplemented on alternate days with paused squats and Spoto presses (stopping short of touching the chest and holding it) and a handful of other movements. It’s very straightforward, and it works.