T Nation

Those With Experience Using Separate Assistance Day


My schedule is super busy this time of year. Between fathering, husbanding, amateur landscaping to keep the HOA’s panties untwisted, work, work, and looking at myself in the mirror, I only have two days I can get to the gym for barbell lifts.

I do however have a job and time spent waiting for my kids’ practices that afford me opportunities for bodyweight work. I also do my diligence with conditioning and recovery.

My question is for those with experience running the 2-day a week plan. Did any of you really get into a third workout day with assistance work? If so, what was your opinion?

I currently follow the two-day a week template, Squat+Bench on Wednesday and Deadlift+Press on Saturday. Main lift + FSL, super-setting rows and chin-ups. Finishing with core work and face pulls and/or curls.

My body tells me I can handle 25-50 reps of push-ups, chin-ups, weightless or light weight single-leg stuff on a third day. My job is very active and I do that stuff at work anyway. I don’t expect you guys to know my body better than me, that would be weird. I just like hearing ideas and experiences.


If you haven’t seen this, here’s an article from Jim a few years back, may help with some guidance on how to approach this. I haven’t tried it yet, but will in a couple weeks to try to make use of the watered down work gym here to get an extra night freed up at home for the summer months.


Thank you!

The link you provided surprised me at first place because I didn’t think there were any 5/3/1 articles that I have missed. So I read it with excitement both for finding something new and for it being exactly what I was looking for.

Then, about two sentences in, I realized I had read it before and it was the subconscious inspiration to try the third “C workout” assistance day.


Ha yeah, I figured you did at one point, but also wanted to put it up for others interested in this approach. There’s some great stuff in it, looking forward to trying it over the summer. I figure if I can create one more free night during the week by lifting in the little gym at work during lunch with a “C” type workout, that’s another night to fit in conditioning/mobility or just enjoy the weather with my family.


I think you’ll like it. I completed an active recovery workout. I was still sore from squatting on Tuesday and also being old. This despite my diligence in the Agile 8.

I did pull-ups supersetted with bodyweight single leg squats and one-legged deadlift movements (no weight, just did the stretch). Then I did ab work (100 reps) supersetted with lateral raises and light curls (3 sets each).

I also jumped and shot putted before. But I do that most days.

It could be in my head, but I woke up today feeling better than I did before. I think I’ll be better for it. If this continues, I will stick with this format even during the summer when I can work out seven days a week.

Plus I got to see some bros with lots of high fives and woohooing while straight killin’ it like swag beasts on the Smith machine with calf raises. I miss the gym sometimes.


I’ve written a LOT of articles about this very subject and the SPECIFIC recovery work/movement/mobility/bodyweight programming for the 5/3/1 program. If you do this right, and actually do the program as I have written it, you should not be sore. Or not very sore at all.

This has already been mapped out and experimented with.


All good points.

Personally, I’ve had a very similar experience with 5/3/1. I’ve been training 5/3/1 for the past 9 months and have also been pretty busy with work (up to 80 hours per week at times). During the super busy weeks I’ll shoot for 2 days per week and hit the big lifts only, and then squeeze in assistance days or sprinting if I can find the time. I’ve definitely noticed that I progress a little faster (as gauged by performance on the 3rd AMRAP set) with 3-4 workouts per week compared to 2 however. Having said that, scheduling 2 workouts per week seems to be better in the sense that it prevents me from constantly worrying about when I’m going to be able to train.

One of the biggest strengths of 5/3/1 in my opinion is the flexibility. For instance, If I ever have 3 days in a row I’ll revert back to a 4 day split and hit it hard every day for 3 days, and then give my body at least 3 days before hitting the 4th day. If I get busy again the following week I’ll just switch back to a 2 day split. I’ve also found that on a 2 day split the deload week can become a single workout. After week 6 I’ll hit some body weight assistance stuff for a day or two and then start over, with the first workout of week 1 starting 6-7 days after the last workout of week 6.

Hope that helps.