Jason Blaha's Ice Cream Fitness 5x5 Novice Program

A potent and proven novice muscle and strength building program from Jason Blaha & Ice Cream Fitness. Testimonials continue to pour in touting it's effectiveness.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
3
Barbell, Cables, EZ Bar
Male & Female

Workout Description

For more information on Jason Blaha and Ice Cream Fitness, please visit the Juggernaut Fitness Youtube or Facebook fan page.

I would like to thank Muscle & Strength for hosting my Ice Cream Fitness (ICF) 5x5 novice program which I put out for free. Since I released it a year ago hundreds of people have contacted me about their results. Please watch the video I break down the full progression and methodology behind the program:

The program is to be conducted 3 days per week alternating workout A&B on non-consecutive days. For example:

Week One

  • Day 1 - Workout A
  • Day 2 - Rest
  • Day 3 - Workout B
  • Day 4 - Rest
  • Day 5 - Workout A
  • Days 6 & 7 - Rest

Week Two

  • Day 1 - Workout B
  • Day 2 - Rest
  • Day 3 - Workout A
  • Day 4 - Rest
  • Day 5 - Workout B
  • Days 6 & 7 - Rest
ICF Workout A
Novice Program
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 5 5
Bench Press 5 5
Bent Over Row 5 5
Barbell Shrugs 3 8
Tricep Extensions 3 8
Straight Bar or Incline Curls 3 8
Hyperextensions with plate 2 10
Cable Crunches 3 10
ICF Workout B
Novice Program
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 5 5
Deadlift 1 5
Standing Press 5 5
Bent Over Row (10% lighter than Workout A) 5 5
Close Grip Bench Press 3 8
Straight Bar or Incline Curls 3 8
Cable Crunches 3 10

ICF 5x5 Novice Program FAQ

One of my fans created a detailed FAQ based upon half a dozen videos in which I answered specific questions. Some of the FAQ are based upon statements I made on another forum.

If you notice a common question or concern that is not posted below, feel free to reply in the comments section below and I will add it.

Again, original credit goes to iBeastMode207 for taking the time to write the original up.

I have questions...

Watch the video. 99.9% of all of your questions can be answered by actually taking the time to watch the video on this page.

I don't have enough time to do this program

If you can't take the time to do this you are simply not worth the gains the program can offer you. Common time for the workout is around 1.5 hours.

Can I change anything?

Unless you are unable to do this program for medical reasons: do not alter the program. You are a novice, and quite simply you don't know what you're doing. If you did you wouldn't be looking for a workout.

If you want to go changing everything to fit what you believe will give you better results, go post it in the workout programs forum so everyone can refer you right back to a proven program that works, such as this one.

I have bad knees

If you have bad knees, do box squats. Otherwise, unless you are medically unable you should squat.

Can I add more deadlifts?

Deadlifts are 1x5 for a reason. They are taxing on your CNS and if you mess around you will get hurt. So don't be the tough guy who wants to do 5x5 deadlifts, because you will fail miserably.

Do the reps and sets as they are laid out in the program.

I don't like squats and deadlifts

Don't ask if you can ditch squats or deadlifts because "you don't like them". They're essential, so just do them.

Can I add calf work?

Supplemental calf work is acceptable, but you don't need it. If you want to do the extra work, feel free.

Can I add side lateral raises?

Side lateral raises are also acceptable, but Jason suggests doing face pulls instead.

Can I add extra ab work?

Additional ab work is acceptable. Doing ab work on off days instead is also acceptable. You can also substitute in other ab exercises if you do not have access to a cable station for cable crunches.

How should I lift when cutting?

The cutting version is 3x5 for main lifts, 2x8 for accessory lifts. Also, you only progress every other session, not every session. Example Workout B: deadlift 200, next workout B: deadlift 200, next workout B: deadlift 205.

Can I add cardio?

With a good diet, you do not need to do cardio. Most people here don't even bother as it will not make you magically lose weight. Diet is what affects weight. You will receive all the same benefits from this program (As well as any high-intensity weight training program) as you would receive from "cardio."

Any advice on tracking calories?

For tracking calories, Myfitnesspal is a pretty solid app. To calculate your TDEE (calorie needs determination) click here.

What if I add weight and fail?

If you fail a rep/set/whatever, you repeat that weight during the next workout. If you fail the next workout, you lower your weight by 10% and continue to use that until progress. Reset weights get rounded down.

Do I need accessory work?

You do not need to add any extra accessory work, you are a novice. Your entire body is lagging right now. You fix your overall body before moving to intermediate level workouts. Then you can focus on specific body parts and weaknesses.

What if I stall?

If you are not progressing and stall for a while, you may need to deload. Read this.

Any substitutions for hyperextensions?

Hyperextension can be substituted with good mornings or cable pull throughs.

Any substitutions for close grip bench press?

CGBP/Dips are a matter of preference, Jason just prefers CGBP.

What about rest between sets?

Break times between sets are 3-5 minutes for the 5x5 sets and 1-2 minutes for the 3x8 sets.

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About The Author
Jason Blaha is a well respected YouTube celebrity, mastermind of Ice Cream Fitness, and holder of more inter-planetary titles than any bodybuilder or powerlifter in recorded history.

857 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 04/30/2016 - 04:27
Eric

1. Can I add pullups or chinups to the program?
2. I already have a pretty big chest. It just looks ridiculous next to my tiny arms. Can I replace bench press with extra close grip bench press because I really don't want to grow my chest a lot.
3. Are leg raises a good replacement for cable crunches?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 05/03/2016 - 10:49
MikeWines

Eric,
1. Sure, but you need to take something else away. I've answered this question before, scroll through the rest of the questions on the page.
2. Sure.
3. They are one replacement, yes. But you need to be working a variety of other components of abdominal work as the abs are responsible for far more than just spinal flexion.

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Posted Tue, 04/26/2016 - 23:40
Samuel Meman

How should i progress my squat when cutting?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:57
MikeWines

That depends on alot of factors - training experience, overall volume, relative intensity, individual recovery capability, lifestyle (sleep+nutrition), supplementation, etc.

If you're a novice who is recovering well then you might be able to increase once ever 3 or 4 workouts. If not, then it's tougher to make specific recommendations.

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Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 20:20
Samuel Meman

well i'm 15 I've been training for 3 months and have loaded 50kg on my squat and this is my first program, i originally loaded 2.5kg every session but have recently hit a wall because of my cut. should i be progressing every second session? And am i allowed to change the rep scheme to 5x3 because of form issues on the 4th and 5th rep

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 04/28/2016 - 09:22
MikeWines

Samuel,
Why are you cutting at age 15? That sounds like a recipe for disaster unless there is a significant weight issue as you're going to be messing with a variety of growth factors at your age.

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Posted Thu, 04/28/2016 - 21:43
Samuel Meman

I used to weigh 120kg and am now 85kg I plan to drop to 75kg, this took 6 months i'm also 182cm

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Posted Tue, 04/26/2016 - 03:24
Bill

Way to much volume for a novice

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Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 16:42
Carl

This is genius. Been looking for a good routine or weeks. This definitely fits all my criteria and covers all the major bodyparts.

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Posted Sun, 04/24/2016 - 18:58
Miki

Where do I get roids like you?

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Posted Sun, 04/24/2016 - 13:29
Jeffrey

For the cable crunch, what's the difference between facing away and towards the weights?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:58
MikeWines

Jeffrey,
The force vector of the cable coming off the machine.

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Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 23:28
Jeffrey

What core exercises would you recommend and what number of sets x reps?

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Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 00:52
Jeffrey

Are there different benefits? What would you recommend?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:46
MikeWines

Not necessarily that I'm aware of. I would recommend a variety of core work (not just cable crunches) given the different functions of the core.

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Posted Sun, 04/24/2016 - 11:43
edy

Let's say In work out b I forgot to close grip bench press for just one day will that effect my gains,how much? thank you.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:52
MikeWines

Edy,
No, just do it the next time you hit session B.

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Posted Sat, 04/23/2016 - 18:16
Jack

I just have a few questions
1. I have anterior pelvic tilt so would it be wise to substitute hyperextensions for leg curls.
2. Could I substitute the cable crunches for bodyweight abb work. My main goal is aesthetics and I've found from expirence that heavy abb work like cc widen my obliques.
3. Is it possible to incorpate wide grip pull ups into the program without excluding curls, as I found that they are the exercise that really grow my last.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:51
MikeWines

1. How do you know that? - If you do indeed and it's not just your subjective opinion then yes, you would not want to perform hyperextensions. Substitute hip thrusts, physioball hamstring curls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx-O5hiE65Y), or single leg RDLs.
2. If you truly exhibit an APT then you should start with some of this ab work: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/ground-based-training-for-a-s...
3. You could substitute pullups for shrugs.

If truly do exhibit a hard APT then I would not recommend this program as there would need to be a variety of modifications in place to prevent further compensation into the present pattern.

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Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 12:37
Jack

Thanks for the reply. I have not asked a doctor if I have apt, however I have that duck like posture that is a common sympton. It's not a serious condition but I don't like the look of it. For the leg culs could I just use the machine or is there a reason why you recommend the ball? For the ab work would hanging leg raises be good?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/25/2016 - 17:04
MikeWines

Jack,
A doctor isn't going to be able to diagnose APT as they don't have training in musculoskeletal compensation patterns or biomechanics.

"Duck feet" could be due to a HUGE variety of things up and down the kinetic chain. You cannot make the assumption that it's primarily due to just APT as that isn't the case - could be weakness within the arch of the foot, anatomical structure of the hip, tightness within the adductors, excessive tone within the glutes, etc.

If you really want to get to the root of the issue, start a thread in the forums (link found here: http://forum.muscleandstrength.com/) and post up front, side, and back profile shots along with some lifting footage. If you're compensating heavily through specific movements then lifting more (or in compromised positions) is not going to fix anything.

For the leg curls I specifically recommended the physioball as it forces you to engage the glutes, posteriorly tilt the pelvis, and recruit more of the abdominals for stability. Most just default into an overextended position with leg curls on a machine hence why I don't recommend them if you have APT.

Leg raises CAN work but it's more of a question of whether or not you have the strength maintain a good pelvic position - in this case it sounds like you don't given you have APT so starting with something advanced like a hanging leg raise isn't going to work on correcting the fundamentals (pelvic stability), hence why I recommended the article I wrote.

You can't run (hanging leg raises) until you learn to walk (understand what a neutral spine feels like and maintain it during movement).

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Posted Fri, 04/22/2016 - 08:11
timothy joel

Should I add upper chest work?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 04/22/2016 - 09:49
MikeWines

Tim,
Add some dips if you want but given the fact you're benching every other session, there's no need.

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Posted Fri, 04/22/2016 - 07:24
manuel

hello should i be on a caloric surplus in rest days??

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 04/22/2016 - 09:50
MikeWines

Manuel,
If trying to adding muscle mass, yes.

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Posted Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:52
Joel rene

I love this program already and i haven't even started it yet but i need to ask a question how long should i do this routie i wanna least bulk up for 8months to a year so will it be okay to do it thay long?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/04/2016 - 13:26
MikeWines

Joel,

That depends really. Many will have a different answer. I think it depends upon your goal as many may require periods of maintenance or cutting in order to continue progressing. If you're a beginner or even a novice, you should be fine with the approach above.

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Posted Wed, 04/20/2016 - 23:28
Kevin

I do a simple 5x5/3x8 (depending on how I feel that day, not really planned) of squats/bench and deads/pullups on alternating days 3 times a week. On those same days I also do boxing for about an hour, usually a technique class or a fitness oriented class and it's right after I lift.
How should I fit these exercises in my program?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 04/21/2016 - 11:17
MikeWines

Kevin,
I'm not entirely sure of your question honestly. Are you referring to how to fit in the rest of the accessory work?

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Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 18:09
Marcus

I cant do cable crunches because my gym doesn't have cables. What can i do instead?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 04/19/2016 - 10:03
MikeWines

Marcus,
If you're just looking for something else that's going to train spinal flexion, look into reverse crunches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkafd6GkaPo

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Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 10:58
will

So how would you go about fitting for brazilian jujitzu,should I only do the novice program twice a week (Monday,and Friday)while the martial arts on tuesday,Wednesday,and Thursday thanx.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 11:40
MikeWines

Well if you're rolling 3x/week, I know that can be VERY physically taxing having worked with a few MMA fighters. However, everyone's individual recovery will be different depending on how much they focus on improving lifestyle and nutritional components of recovery.

I would say if you're going to lift 3x/week then you might want to roll 1-2x/week.

Similarly, if you roll 3x/week, I would lift heavy 1x/week and do an additional day of bodyweight/accessory work.

However, I would not recommend rolling 3x/week AND lifting 3x/week. That seems like an exorbitant amount of high intensity work, even if you were sipping some of that "high performance kool aid".

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Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 10:21
isaac

In the 5x5 can the first set be a warm up with light weight or do all 5 sets have to be heavy?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 11:41
MikeWines

Isaac,
All 5 sets don't need to be heavy but you shouldn't be utilizing one of your sets of 5 as a warmup.

Read a few of the other comments in which I explained the pyramid technique as well as recommendations on proper warmups.

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Posted Sun, 04/17/2016 - 21:45
will

Can I do brazilian ju jitzu or mma on off days(tuesday,Thursday,and Saturday) or is Tuesday and Thursday enough before recovery takes a toll thanks.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 09:45
MikeWines

Will,
That depends on whether or not you can recover sufficiently between sessions. If you can, then go for it. However, you must keep in mind that the injury rate from your choice of hobbies is sufficiently higher than most so you must weigh the pros and cons carefully. Is an injury sustained rolling worth giving up your time in the gym? Similarly, is your time under the bar worth it if it is so draining that it takes away from rolling?

I'm not saying either needs to be given up entirely, especially if you enjoy both, just something to keep in mind as you weigh the cost of each action. I believe it's possible to combine both, you just have to be smart about it from both angles.

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Posted Sun, 04/17/2016 - 14:59
Hieu

Hi, I'm on my 4th week on this program but I've just twisted my ankle yesterday. I don't think I could do squats or deadlift or row. Should I just keep doing the other exercises that don't put any stress on my ankle? I was thinking of maybe doing legs exercise on the machines like legs extension and lying legs curl, could you please advise? Many thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 11:20
MikeWines

Hieu,
Yes, if you've incurred an injury then do what you can (pain free obviously) but definitely don't give up training entirely. Depending upon the severity of the strain, you might just need to take a few days off before getting back into it.

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Posted Fri, 04/15/2016 - 16:09
Eduard

I need a dip/close grip bench press substitute, my wrists are very thing and kinda weak, especially while bench pressing, so CGBP is even harder for me, I don't really like doing close grip. And for the dips, when I'm doing the 2nd set I get a sharp pain(like heavy stabs) in my chest that will haunt me for a week or two, even when doing pushup or something like that. So which exercises could I do?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 10:06
MikeWines

Eduard,
You could work on some close grip pushups (diamond pushups). Also, the dip issue (i.e. the stabbing pain in your chest) is likely due to faulty spinal positioning during the lift. Ensure you're not overextended through your lower back and keep some tension through your abs (like you're about to get punched in the stomach) to allow for better force transfer into the bar.

^That is only part of the puzzle though as you may be dealing with a stability issue in your shoulders as which will need to be addressed with additional components of your program.

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Posted Wed, 04/13/2016 - 15:23
George

Thank you M&S for supporting a racist!!!! Everyone please just Google "Jason Blaha Beast with a Hand" and read some of his writings. I will no longer support anything M&S related until references to Jason Blaha have been removed. The man is a blatant racist and it is unbelievable that this company still supports him.

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Posted Wed, 04/13/2016 - 07:31
Dominique

I am a female that is about 70lbs. overweight. Is it best to start with this workout when I have such a large amount of weight to lose? Would a ketogenic diet be a good idea with this workout?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 04/13/2016 - 11:17
MikeWines

Dominique,
The best first step is just start doing something. Find something that you enjoy and you'll be able to stick with it in the long run.

Ketogenic diets aren't the best choice when it comes to performance during high intensity events such as weight training. I don't believe complete elimination of a food group is necessary for anyone to achieve their goals (provided they aren't extreme or unhealthy). If you are just getting started, I would stick with simpler guidelines such as these: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide-infographic

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Posted Tue, 04/12/2016 - 22:46
Dominique

I am female and I roughly 70 lbs. overweight. I want to lose weight and become healthier and stronger. Would it be best start out with this program now when I have such a large amount to lose? Also, would a ketogenic diet work well with this type of program?

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Posted Mon, 04/11/2016 - 11:59
Edu

Hello!

What would be better to do:

a) Follow the +2.5kg rule but do it once every week.
b) Use micro plates for compounds too and add 0,5 kg - 1 kg each workout.

Which is gonna make me progress faster?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 04/11/2016 - 13:28
MikeWines

Edu,

That depends on your current level of strength. More intermediate lifters might benefit from a slower progression model utilizing the micro plates but beginner lifters could utilize the 2.5kg rule.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 04/12/2016 - 10:43
MikeWines

Edu,
Then you started too heavy. I would say you should reset by 15-20% and work your way back up. Technique is the most important component of training. Emphasizing quality movement is the most important variable to ensure training longevity and low injury rates.

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Posted Tue, 04/12/2016 - 12:03
Edu

I meant that okay, I fail the first set and if that happens on two workouts in a row, I should reset 10% (that is what the routine says).

But it doesn't explain what to do with the other 4 sets I mean, okay I failed the first set, I only could do 4 reps. Should I skip the remaining 4 sets? Should I just decrease the weight for the 4 sets remaining? Should I just keep going with that weight without hitting muscular failuire, doing less reps if needed, and if on two workouts in a row I can't do 5x5 then decrease 10% and build from there?