Recommend me a minimalist Barbell Program

Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)


Level 3 Valued Member
Greetings everyone,

I'm elaborating a small list of programs for my girlfriend, who is currently doing the following:

Day A:

Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5

Day B:

Deadlift 5x5
Overhead Press 5x5

3 times a week.

She's been on this program for 6 weeks already and she plans to stay on it for an additional 2-3 months before switching to another one.

Her goal is pretty much to stay in shape and be strong. She accomplished the Simple goal from S&S last year.

What would be a good barbell program to follow after this one?

I was thinking something along the lines of 5 exercises, 5 days a week, with a rep scheme of 2x5.

What else would be good?

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Power To The People is a good one, only two exercises (deadlift and a press of some sort) done nearly every day, so I consider it much like a barbell S&S, or S&S to be a kettlebell PTTP. :)


Level 6 Valued Member
I have been doing a modified version of ROP with KB C&P and BB deadlifts (replacing the swings). See last few posts in my training log, if are interested in how it looks like.

william bad butt

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm learning to love ultra-abbreviated programs (Brooks Kubik inspired) focusing on singles. Example, on Mondays squat (or front squat), on Wednesdays bench press (or barbell push press), on Fridays deadlift. I love just focusing on 1 thing. Programming examples:
-5x4x3x2x1 with progressively heavier singles until you get close to a max (training max)
-5x5 progressively heavier sets, then 1x3, then progressively heavier singles until you get close to a max (training max). This is essentially the program I personally follow but over 9 days, not 7. On some "off" days I do kettlebells for GPP.

When the weight gets real heavy AND the bar speed is slow, stop for the day, even if you were stronger last week. Other days your training max goes up easy and you add 10 lbs and set a new PR.

It sounds easy but it is not. As the weights get heavy requires long 5 minute breaks between sets. Once a week on the lift gives me plenty of time to recover. 3 1 hrs workouts give me time to focus on recovery and GPP and diet and life, etc....

Be warned though, this may not provide enough stress to a beginner (who will recover quickly).

william bad butt

Level 6 Valued Member
Also, checkout e-book "programming to win". It is free (recommend a donation). With the exception of maybe "power to the people", this is the most effective barbell program (it is actually, specifically, a power lifting program) I have ever tried. This was my last program prior to switching to the one I outlined above.


Level 6 Valued Member
531 two day template, any of the Tactical Barbell templates paired with minimalist clusters, Pavel's 3-5 in BB, and of course the original Power to the People set-up; throw in some pull-ups after PTTP and that's a pretty complete minimalist approach within your guidelines.


Level 3 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Work on pullups with her - also 3 days a week - texas method would be good


Level 6 Valued Member
I have done pullups inside PTTP with good results. For me, the order was press, pullup, deadlift. If I was doing it again now, I'd try supersetting the press and pullups as recommended in ETK.

@Steve Freides, can you superset a press and pullups in a program like ES? I might need to go back and read ETK to see what it says.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
That's how it's done in the Rite of Passage. I see your point, though - how do then count for an ES program? I don't know - probably best not to do it this way, or otherwise be willing to experiment a bit.



Level 6 Valued Member
I'm doing ladders reloaded with cleans and presses 4 times a week. I do 15 swings in between each ladder.

Also doing a PTTP deadlift cycle alongside 2 days a week - starting with 65% 1RM adding 5kgs each time going 4 steps forward and then starting 3 steps back and going 4 steps forward. The 5, 3, 2 split with the same weight works better for me than the split in the book.

In my warm-up I use 2 24kg bells for front squats of 2 sets of 5 and I do a couple of getups.

This seems to cover pushes, pulls, squats and aerobic training quite well at the moment.

James Whitmore

Level 2 Valued Member
I used the Simple Strength (basically easy strength but from Intervention by Dan John) and it worked well for me. I really improved my weighted pullup. I made a excel sheet for it. Let me see... ah yes found the pdf version. You just fill in which lift you choose for each 2 week block next to the category of lift type (pull, push, etc)

I really like this program after a long lay off from lifting or if you are learning new movements. At the end you will be ready and wanting to take on something with more volume/intensity. The hardest part is boredom in the last week or two.



Level 3 Valued Member
Barbell Lifts only to cover all bases? I'd open up with the overhead squat - its the TGU of the barbell world. After that, several bases were covered in the prior replys.

kodo kb

Level 6 Valued Member
If you want to go minimalist, use the Dan John program you found. The Marty Gallagher option looks great too.


Level 3 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
well this is funny, why minimalistic ? what are her goals? why minimalistic if she can workout three days a week ? Why ROP ? what is her goal ???? to be honest all of these answers here are useless if we don't know what SHE wants to accomplish !

Also, program on main site is for barbell squat is REALLY nice. ;) if she cares about squats that is. And we all know everyone needs more squats.
Last edited:
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)
Top Bottom