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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494 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:17
wintzkie

Hi! how much weight should i lift or use in each excise. im a beginner.. thanks you so much

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:22
MikeWines

Wintzkie,
I would recommend starting with just the bar actually.

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Posted Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:18
Shou

Hi I would like to make the modifications below. What do you think of it

WORKOUT A
Barbell Shrugs: Change to close grip Upright row
3 X 8 (don't really need to work on my traps, more shoulders)
Hyperextensions with plate; how do u make good progress with this? It seems v challenging to add 5 lbs every session.
Add cable face pulls 3X10-12

WORKOUT B
Deadlift 1 X 5: change to 5 X 5 (would like to practice more Deadlifts especially form, 1X5 feels like too short to even get my form right)
Add in another incline dumbell press or cable crossover exercise; to work on my upper chest.

Lastly how should warm up be like? Do you do like ramp up sets to working set of 5X5? Eg. for compounds 20 kg X 8, 30kg X 5, 40kg X 3, 45kg X 2, workout set of 50kg 5X5
Thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/17/2015 - 11:20
MikeWines

Shou,
You can't add 5lbs to every single lift every single session. I would shoot for linear progression on the compound lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) and then shoot for a slower progression scheme with your accessory work (i.e. +5lbs every 2-3 weeks).

Ramp up sets are fine but there's not need to add in more pressing work. If anything, I would recommend more upper back work personally.

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Posted Mon, 08/17/2015 - 12:33
Shou

Thanks Mike! But Jason Blaha's progression scheme seems to add +5lbs (compound) + 2.5 lvbs (accessories). Wonder if this is even possible.

Upper back workout: Meaning like Wide lats pull down and dumbbell rows? Any suggestions?

Also if I do miss one of the workout days, e.g Workout A (Sat), Workout B (Mon), Workout A (Tues - missed). Should i repeat workout A or just continue on the next week's cycle starting with workout B.

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Posted Wed, 08/12/2015 - 14:04
Orion

It is a decent workout. Jason Blaha isn't that big of a guy (drawing is 3x as big as photo lol)

This is a good basic workout. I do 2x DL and 2x hypers - works fine for me. Everyone is not the same and yes you change any workout to meet your physical needs and goals. You can switch out any exercise if it meets your goals. Definitely don't do anything if it causes injury. I do all I can that my work schedule allows. Do your best and be consistent. But as daido said - do the lifts correctly. Better to drop weight and do the exercise right than to hurt your back or elbows by poor form and too much weight.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 09:32
daido

with all due respect this routine is a little backwards. having been a collegiate and professional strength coach for many years I know a little about the "cns" and the effect exercise has on it. the center piece of any novice or advanced routine is the deadlift simply because it incorporates every muscle in the body when done correctly. 1 set of 5 reps WILL encourage the lifter to do the movement INCORRECTLY simply because he will not get the feel needed to understand how complex this lift is. if NAYONE including the author has any questions feel free to contact me at the address given. BE CAREFUL.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:16
MikeWines

Daido,
I would have to agree with you there. I've worked in both the private and collegiate strength and conditioning settings and I've never recommend a single set of deadlifts to any of my athletes. Technique proficiency occurs with submaximal weights and consistent practice.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:59
MikeWines

Jamal,
Here's what I would recommend (provided you're not brand new to lifting - i.e. less than 6-8 months of solid training under your belt) - rather than adding 5lbs to the bar each and every session as this will quickly become impossible for most lifters after the first few months of training, shoot for increases every 4th session. So structure your lifting like this:

Workout A:
Squat - 5x5 (Pyramid up to a top set of 5)

Workout B:
Squat - 5x5 (Try to complete 3 sets with your top set of 5 from workout A)

Workout A:
Squat - 5x5 (Try to complete 5 sets with your top set of 5 from previous workout A)

Workout B:
Squat - 5x5 (Pyramid up to a top set of 5 with +5lbs from your previous top set)

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Posted Tue, 08/11/2015 - 02:30
Jamal

Hey mike quick question, for the excerices are we meant to add weight after every set ? For example for the squats 5*5 should i add weight after every set or maintain the same weight and add weght after every week if comfortable ?

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Posted Fri, 08/07/2015 - 21:26
Mikaile

Thank you so much for sharing this!

I started working out at the gym in April, I have been doing mostly isolation exercises, but have recently been focusing on compound movements.

My goal for my body is to increase my muscle SIZE. To look better. Aesthetics, as many would say.

I absolutely do not mind increasing my strength because doing so will increase my abilities to push more weight for the size-building rep range.

Do you think that, for my goals, this program would do me well? I am a very patient person and am not rushing to get results, but it is always a pleasure to find efficient routines delivering results at an efficient pace.

Do you think your routine is good for size-building for an ectomorphe like me? I am 24 years old, 5'8" and 140lbs.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:21
daido

don't get caught up in the ectomorph stuff or anything else you might read in the mags or most of what you hear because it is an excuse. it looks like you have three months of training behind you so you are probably not even sure about the lay out of the gym yet. I would encourage you to do three full body multi joint workouts a week concentrating on NOTHING but perfect form. have someone who KNOWS what they are doing look at you and make sure that everything is spot on perfect. one thing that is going to happen is that you will get stronger, another is that you will add size to your frame as long as you dial in your nutrition to meet what it is you want and expect to happen.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:10
MikeWines

Mikaile,
If your goal is to increase muscle mass then you need to nail the basics - get on a good routine (like the one found in this article), increase your caloric consumption, and ensure your lifestyle matches your goals.

Also, somatotypes (ecto, meso, endo) are largely mis-classified within the fitness industry. They were originally developed for physiological reasons but the fitness industry adopted them to describe physical traits.

Most "hardgainers" are just undereaters. I would start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/complete-guide-how-to-increas...

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Posted Tue, 08/04/2015 - 12:44
Jonathan

Is there a reason why the workout from the video is different from the workout posted above?

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Posted Wed, 08/05/2015 - 10:19
MikeWines

Jonathan,
The programs should match. Please let me know if there's any differences.

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Posted Tue, 08/04/2015 - 01:45
Joe

Are there alternatives to the exercises requiring cable machines? I don't have one. I just have a squat rack, bench and weight

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 08/04/2015 - 10:03
MikeWines

Joe,
For the cable crunches, you could simply experiment with some bodyweight ideas found in these 2 articles:
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/ground-based-training-for-a-s...
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/understanding-core-training

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Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 20:09
Ron

As I understand it, one can expect to deadlift quite a bit more than he or she squats; that's where the 1/2/3/4 plate benchmark comes from. How does that work with linear progression? Should I expect more resets on the squat since it's five sets and the deadlift is only one?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 08/04/2015 - 10:13
MikeWines

Ron,
This is an excellent question but one in which the answer is: it depends. A lifter's anthropometry (length of individual segments - i.e. arms and legs) will determine leverages, strengths/weaknesses, and some of the discrepancy between squats and deadlifts.

You may experience more resets as that can happen if someone is struggling with the volume or overall recovery but it depends on the person. If you have longer arms and legs with a shorter torso then you'll be a really good deadlifter. However, if you have short limbs and a longer torso then squatting will come easily and pulling will be much more difficult to master so one set may not be enough to proper groove the motor pattern.

So again, in the end it depends on where you fall on that height and limb length scale.

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Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 16:46
Joe

I am trying to lose weight and fat (~250), is this a good workout for me or this is more for pure muscle building? I am currently on a Keto diet (~75% fat, 20-25% protein). If it isn't a good workout for what i want to do what's a good alternative?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 08/04/2015 - 09:58
MikeWines

Joe,
This routine would be a good place to start. You can lose fat or gain muscle on any routine provided some simple parameters are in place (progressive overload, specificity, nutritional guidance, etc.)

You may find that you struggle with workout intensity on a ketogenic plan so just be aware that that's a factor which may need to be adapted in the future.

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Posted Sat, 08/01/2015 - 21:41
Chris

how can i train endurance while doing this routine? cardio on the off days? after the workouts? if so when and what should i be eating. Please be step by step in detail. like if i do cardio on off days should i be eating before? after? What do i have to do to prevent burning up my muscle mass/gains.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 15:16
MikeWines

Chris,
If your goal is to simultaneously improve your endurance capacity while continuing to improve strength, it's going to take a bit of work and some improvements to the programming.

I would recommend doing your endurance based work on your off days. What you eat will be determine by you goals and your macros. I can't make specific recommendations as I don't know what's specific for you.

I would recommend eating a balanced meal 1-2 hours before hand if it fits your schedule. You can still build muscle with concomitant training (strength and endurance) but you have to be eating enough.

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Posted Fri, 07/31/2015 - 10:31
Gary

Hi.Do anyone know that is there any following Intermediate program or a 5 day split ?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/03/2015 - 14:30
MikeWines

Gary,
This program doesn't have any alternate versions for 4 or 5 day splits.

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:35
Zac

Hi. Do you think it is helpful to do HIIT alongside this (on rest days) for fat loss/toning while also building strength? the main thing I would be concerned about is whether or not that gives enough opportunity for legs to rest after squats. Thanks!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/31/2015 - 09:31
MikeWines

Zac,
HIIT is rather taxing on both your CNS and musculoskeletal system so it may being to influence your recovery capabilities. As such, it may be better to utilize LISS or other non weight bearing modalities. Let your diet dictate your body composition, it takes alot of exercise to "outwork" unstructured nutrition.

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Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 20:43
David

Does this program get good results for CUTTING? Or was the cutting version an afterthought? I ask, because every progress/review blog using ICF has only shown those BULKING and NOT cutting.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:25
MikeWines

David,
Any program can get good results but it depends upon if that program is right for the individual. Cookie cutter programs work well for beginners as they take most of the thinking involved out of the equation and teach proper progression but above and beyond that, there's a level of individuality that should be applied to everyone's programming depending upon their goal, training experience, age, gender, injury history, sport specific requirements, asymmetries, etc.

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Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:17
Henry

I've been lifting for one and a half years now, but started very slowly due to the fact that I began lifting at the age of 16 and I was still growing a lot and didn't want to stunch my groth. I'm 17 now and because I was so overly careful I'm not nearly as strong as I could already be. My weight is about 170 lbs and I bench about 180 just to give you an idea. Also I can only squat 190 because of that. So I guess the programm would fit me very nicely, wouldn't it?
Also I was wondering If I could do something like
4×8 or 5×8 with Squats and bench press and get a similar result ( I don't want to do very low rep ranges with pressing moves because of the reason mentioned above)
Thank you very much.

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Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 23:32
Justin

If I understand, you're worried to do lower reps because you don't want to stunt your growth - That is a myth. Being younger and with a less experienced body that's full of hormones, now is the best time to lift heavy. You will never make better gains than now. And don't be afraid to eat. Good luck.

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 13:38
Mary

Sorry...and is it ok to do 1/2 squats until you build up to full range of motion (hips paralleled to knees or deeper)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 09:11
MikeWines

Mary,
It's tough to make a blanket recommendation upon that because it might be due to a mobility or a stability issue. Therefore, unless I saw someone squat or had the chance to assess them then it's tough to determine what's really going on. I would recommend you start with front squats or box squats as both will allow you to hit proper depth and engrain the proper squat pattern. I'm partial to front squats if you have the mobility to achieve proper positioning.

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 12:37
Mary

Is it possible to do sumo or wide legged squats for those with knee issues ( FYI I be tried box squats - still bothering my knees, however sumo/wide legged don't cause me any issues)? Will results be the same ? And what depth (how low) should we aim for - I have watched tons on form videos and seen some go 90 degrees and some at 45 what's the ideal range of motion - and is this suitable for beginners - thanks!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:26
MikeWines

Mary,
I would strongly recommend you start incorporating some foam rolling with a few of the examples from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjKGGHCl0L4&list=PL7XNGdouGomSQCZWqNVFUt...

When squatting, you should always aim for 90 degrees if possible. Everyone's squat depth will vary based upon anatomical differences (angle of inclination at the femur, shape of the acetabulum, muscular insertions, rotation of the femur, etc.) but for the most part, if there's no pain and someone can access that range of motion without weight, then they need to be using it within the squat pattern.

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:27
Francis

I'm a complete beginner, is this a good workout for increasing strength for sports, primarily basketball?

When you talk about adding weights do you mean between sets, or the next time you go to the gym increase the weight?

Also, a more general question; I've seen the word "progress" being used a lot in relation to working out. What exactly does it mean? Is it to do with adding on weights as you talk about?

FInally, what warm-ups and stretches do you recommend.

Thanks for such an in depth guide.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:27
MikeWines

Francis,
I would recommend something more along these lines: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/basketball-performance-workou...

I designed that workout specifically for basketball and think it would fit your needs well.

When the author mentions progress, they are primarily referring to more weight on the bar. However, this "progress" can occur in a variety of fashions including (but not limited to): weight, sets, reps, range of motion, technique, or tempo.

For a dynamic warmup, you could start here with a few of the different exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaXt4JBo08s&list=PL7XNGdouGomSOPd1lGLsDc...

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Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 14:02
MariaElena

Can I incorporate a spin class or two a week with this program or will that hinder my progress? I recently discovered how much I enjoy the classes, but my overall goal is to drop 10 lbs and build muscle.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/21/2015 - 09:10
MikeWines

MariaElena,
Sure, if you enjoy spinning then you should definitely keep it in your routine. Your strength progress might be a little slower depending upon the intensity and duration of the class but that's not a guarantee, just try it and find out. But, at the end of the day, if you enjoy it, you stick with it and just modify your routine as needed.

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Posted Sun, 07/19/2015 - 10:35
Aaron

If I were to do a full body workout, how do I warm up? Meaning go on the treadmill possibly 10mins then start light, then progress with higher weights with every set? Btw 5 working sets for the big muscle groups or...???? Sorry I am still new to this.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 11:18
MikeWines

Aaron,
The warmup depends entirely on the person and their asymmetries or individual limitations. For example, if you're sitting at a desk all day and your hips are tighter than a steel drum then it would behoove you to work on them specifically.

We have a short article on warming up: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/guide-warmups-foam-rolling-pr...

But if you're looking for a few more detailed examples in video format, I have a number on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaXt4JBo08s&list=PL7XNGdouGomSOPd1lGLsDc...

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Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 13:10
Mary

What equipment do I need to do this program at home - I am a mom (35) of 3 small children and on a strict budget I have managed to start the program (2 days in) with what I have which is a basic barbell set that goes to 100lbs ( ok for now - since I can only lift 30-40lbs) and your standard bench. Is there anything else I could get that's economical and useful? Thanks in advance.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:40
MikeWines

Mary,
That's a great start, way to keep your health a priority. You may want to invest in some dumbbells in the long run if you plan to build your home gym.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:56
MikeWines

Mary,
Be careful with doing too much HIIT as it can limit your strength progression. I would make sure that one day is low intensity based and probably perform HIIT on saturday if you're working out on M, W, and F in order to give yourself a little more rest. Just be aware that squatting 3 times per week will likely catch up to your quickly if you're adding 5lbs per workout in a linear fashion so you may have to drop the HIIT volume significantly to 6-8 intervals (or something along those lines) rather than doing 20-25 minutes.

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Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 18:04
Mary

Thanks for getting back to me - I actually forgot to mention I do have Dumbbells - but I'll have to get ++ plates to progress - so is it ok that I am starting 30-40lbs? Do I just follow the program and +5lbs every workout ( provided I can get through every set and/or unloading where applicable)? Also, is it ok to do 2x days of HIIT treadmill/cardio @ 20-25 min on my off days? I am 5'8 195lbs @ 1600 cal/day mfp - trying to lose 60Lbs + over the next several months while gaining strength- Thanks in advance - great site!

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Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 12:43
Nathan

I'm wondering if this would be a good routine for me. I already have a lot of experience lifting, but only seriously for under a year. My bench is 225 but my squat and deadlift are much lower because a broke my leg 4 months ago and I'm just stating to get back into those lifts. Would this be a good program for me if I adjust all weights to what I normally can do?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:34
MikeWines

Nathan,
If I was writing your programming I would include more single leg work given your coming back from a break. This program COULD work but if would need to be modified slightly in my opinion.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:47
MikeWines

Nathan,
Sure, I think it's a great start for anyone if they enjoy it.

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Posted Sat, 07/18/2015 - 00:08
Nathan

Thanks Mike!
If we forget about my leg completely for a moment, would this program be alright for me? Because I know it is for beginners, so I'm wondering if increasing all of the weights would be fine.

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Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 15:52
Kenny

Hi, thanks for this routine I love it.

I just have a question regarding deadlifts, why only one set instead of 5x5 like the rest of the big lifts? Thanks