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
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.

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.

1.1K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 01/17/2017 - 21:50

Is this a good program if you're not trying to get ripped and just trying to get lean muscle?

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Posted Tue, 01/17/2017 - 18:22
Mason Armstrong

I don't have a spotter can i substitute barbell bench press with dumbbells?

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Posted Sat, 01/14/2017 - 13:26

Can i superset some of the accessory movements such as tricep extensions and bicep curls to save time?

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Posted Mon, 01/16/2017 - 09:12


Sure, I don't see why not.

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Posted Sat, 01/14/2017 - 13:22

I'm really confused how much weight I should be adding?and when?

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Posted Mon, 01/16/2017 - 09:11


Add 5-10 pounds (depending on the exercise) to the bar whenever you feel you're ready to progress from the weight you're currently using (aim every 1-2 weeks if you're a beginner and progressing quickly).

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Posted Tue, 01/10/2017 - 06:47

Can I do single arm dumbbell row and dumbell shrugs in workout A instead of bend over row and barbell shrugs in workout A. And if I can, should I switch it for 3x8 instead of 5x5?

And on workout B, can I switch the bend over row, with weighted chin ups or cable rows? If is yes, should I do 3x8 instead of 5x5?

And finally, what do you think about DB deadlift instead of the regular deadlift?

Appreciate the answers.

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Posted Mon, 01/09/2017 - 17:49

I will be starting this programme at the beginning of February. I previously did NROLW and lost 11kg's in three months, I was quite chuffed. I realised I loved weights. Unfortunately, I stopped going to the gym and am now horribly overweight - 95kg. Any advice for me going forward?

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Posted Thu, 01/05/2017 - 19:37

Can I do the program every other day, or is there a reason for the two rest days in a row beyond the practicality of a program fitting into a weekly schedule?

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Posted Fri, 01/06/2017 - 09:03

Hi Oliver,

You could do this every other day, just make sure to have a full days of rest in between workouts so that you'll properly recover.

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Posted Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:48

Hey i stay came here because of David laid an de I wanna know where to fit pull-ups. I've seen David laid do them all the time and i personally like the physique it had built him and it's a personal goal of mine to be strong at pull-ups.

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Posted Fri, 12/23/2016 - 17:14

can you swap flat bench for incline

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Posted Tue, 12/27/2016 - 09:38


Yes, you can.

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Posted Tue, 12/13/2016 - 14:23

In another video about the differences between men and women, Jason mentioned women are prone to developing a dominant anterior chain. Following this caution, he mentioned altering this program for females to include less squats and more deadlift and glute/hamstring work. I'm wondering what this would look like while also taking the caution about not doing more than 1x5 on deadlift seriously. I'm a petite woman (5'2", 140 lbs, around 30% bf) wanting to add strength and size from muscle. As a former collegiate runner, I developed bad problems with ITband and petellar femoral syndrome, then tendonitis on the front, inner part of my knee. Curious if my case would benefit from taking this advice seriously/what it would look like.

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Posted Mon, 12/12/2016 - 22:55
Ryan b

Is it okay I had a bad first day. Don't feel sore after workout and idk if I did exercises correctly. I used a barbell for squats too but it was like 45 lbs so idk if that's okay. I also did isolation exercises first and then did my compound lifts. Do I do workout b on Wednesday still or do I start over. I am a beginner and new to weightlifting and trying to gain muscle. I did boxing and some workin out but not like real weightlifting. I am also 5ft 7-8 and 145 lbs

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Posted Tue, 12/06/2016 - 03:51
Ridge Morrison

Would it be ok to swim on the rest days?

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Posted Wed, 11/30/2016 - 13:23

Hello! I have been training for around 10 mounths, when I started I could barley do 2 reps with only the barbell in bench and squats and like 40 kg in deadlifts, now my 1rep max's are: Bench 70kg, Squat 87.5 kg and deadlifts 125kg. I am about to start this programm cause I want to get stronger and was wondering if I could change flat bench for incline cause my upper chest i lacking compared to the rest and incline trains the whole chest better than flat, right ?

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Posted Wed, 11/30/2016 - 13:01

I want to build strength, but mostly muscle. Will this program help me do that? And will my chest, biceps, triceps, etc get bigger.

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Posted Thu, 11/24/2016 - 14:45

Hi, I've been training for exactly a year now. When I started i weighed 146 at 5"11, now im 182 still at 5"11 and roughly the same body fat, maybe slightly higher.
My max bench is at 170, squat at about 280 and deadlift at 320. I've achieved this by doing my own "bro" push pull legs-split. My question is, would it still be beneficial for me to start this program considering the progress I've already made? My goal is to improve strength as much as possible, as well as build some good mass. What numbers can I expect to hit if i run this program until its inefficient?

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Posted Tue, 11/29/2016 - 03:51

Honestly I would just do it until you cant progress any more. You are pretty close or at intermediate level, so just do it to OFFICIALLY become intermediate. I added 20 kg to deadlift in 8 weeks (still going)

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Posted Thu, 11/24/2016 - 10:05

Is there any way to get a downloadable version of this??

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Posted Sat, 11/19/2016 - 15:27

Hey what do you think about adding high intensity cardio like boxing training with some bodyweight exercises to weekly schedule?

I would like to keep up my boxing hobby while i do this program but im not sure if gains from this will be dimishing because i do 2x boxing a week on rest days.

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Posted Mon, 11/21/2016 - 09:15


Should be fine. In fact, I would imagine you'd have a positive carry over between the weight lifting and your power when boxing. Give it a shot for a little while and see how you feel. If you're tired all the time, your probably not recovering properly. If that's the case, you may want to cut back on one of the two activities.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 11/06/2016 - 16:09

i was going for 4 months last year>> i am 18cm tall and 69 kg ..i have been going to the gym for 2 months... playing bro split 6 days per week.. would it be better to change to Ice Cream Fitness 5x5 prog or stick with the same bro split and just change the on it???

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Posted Sun, 11/06/2016 - 08:00

now i am a novice and i have been doing your 5x5 novice program in 3 monthes, and i wonder 2 things how long are you supose to run this program and arnold allways said you got to shock you muscles with new training rutines if you do that how the hell are you going to proggresive overload ?

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Posted Mon, 11/07/2016 - 17:46
Justin S

I'm not an expert by any means but what I've got out of this work out is working on form and range of motion for me .squaring 3 times a week is shocking enough

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Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 18:47
Buljong smeagil

I have hurt My upper spine icant squat CAN i replace IT with 5x5 legpress?

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Posted Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:22

Can I train 4 times a week with this program? Something like:
Day 1: Train A
Day 2: Train B
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: A
Day 5: B
Day 6.7 - rest

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Posted Fri, 10/28/2016 - 17:33

No. With a high volume fullbody program like this it's absolutely necessary to have a day off between each training session. If you want to train with the schedule you mentioned you should look for a 4 day upper/lower split program, it's perfect for that. (I highly recommend Candito's linear progression program, you can download it for free just google it)

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2016 - 10:07
Justin S

How would you keep your macros if your looking to cut bad weigjt ?

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2016 - 00:13
Ryan Soranno

I have been running a reverse pyramid program while being a beginner. Unfortunately, I was cutting bodyfat so I wasn't able to make as many muscle gains. Now that i have been working out for a little more than a year, will the 5x5 be good for me?
Here are my max lifts for the program I was on previously (not 5x5)
Incline Dumbell press: 60 lb 10 reps
sumo deadlift: 185 lb 5 reps
Didn't squat for past few months, but definitely in the mid 100s

Thanks for your help!

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Posted Sat, 10/22/2016 - 06:54
Justin S

How would you do your macros . I'm looking to cut bad weight and tone up right now I'm about 40 fat 40 protien 20-15 carbs

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2016 - 13:22

Hey! Been following this plan for a few months and i am progressing pretty good. My question is, ive been deadlifting 1 lift x5 all the way at my max rep. My back and core are pretty strong tho. And i can add weight after some workouts. I feel no pain or anything being damaged. Every lift is clean and feels amazing. I just need some thoughts on this.

Also for abb workout i am doing high angeled crunches x3 to failure, ripps pretty good. Is this ok or should i should by any means do cable crunches?

Bench and standing press are at a staling point where i cant increase the weight for some time now, so ive been doing x2 supersets with lighter weights to just totally empty my muscles, same for bicep and tricep. I kinda feel i need to do this to burn all my muscles.

Gonna follow this for a year, seeing great increase and progress after about 3 months and cant wait to progress more. Awesome plan, love it!!! Answers to this post is muuuch appreciated. =))

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Posted Tue, 10/18/2016 - 23:12

I have been told that doing a dumbell bench press is more effective than the barbell bench, when working the pecs. Is it ok to do a dumbell bench rather than a barbell for more focus and better ROM?

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Posted Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:19


Sure you can make the swap. Although, I wouldn't exactly name one better than the other, both have their pros and cons.

While dumbbell bench allows for a greater range of motion, it also requires more shoulder stability forcing you into using lighter weight than you may have with regular bench.

Traditional bench press on the other hand forces your shoulders into a fixed position. The fixed position will allow you to push more weight than you would with a dumbbell press, but can aggravate the shoulder joint (especially if you have prior injury history).

In short, absolutely feel free to swap one out for the other, but remember each has it's own benefit.

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Posted Mon, 10/17/2016 - 20:35

Im an ectomorph, trying to gain weight.
Some suggest that I only need 45mins to workout.
does it work for an ectomorph?
Can i do it 3×8 instead of 5x5 to decrease the workout time?

Thank you and i will appreciate your respond.

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:26

Please forgive if you answered this. I listened twice and didn't hear it. As a super novice, knowing absolutely nothing, do you do all sets of the same exercise and then move to the next exercise or do I set of each? Also, any general advice about gym etiquette (I don't want to be lurking but I've got to get it done and get out).

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:28


Do all of the sets of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/30/2016 - 21:55

Are super squats an acceptable replacement for squats?

Is an xplod mid row acceptable replacement for rows?

I love this routine but herniated my L5 disc 18 months ago. After a year of physio I went back for an MRI and it's still fully herniated. I'm fine with all the other lifts but need squat and row replacements.

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Posted Mon, 09/26/2016 - 22:29

Hi, I think I'm stressing my back a little more than it should be. Does excluding hyper extensions would help ?

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Posted Sun, 09/25/2016 - 15:36
Tim giling

How does it work with the progression?
For example is it like this;
monday: 100 LBS
wensday: 100 LBS
Friday: 100 LBS

Monday: 105 LBS

Is it progressing every week or every workout?

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Posted Mon, 09/26/2016 - 09:23


Aim to progress by 5lbs every week.

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Posted Thu, 09/22/2016 - 22:57

Can I do this:
Monday - A
Tuesday - B
Wednesday - A
Thursday - B
Friday - A

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Posted Fri, 09/23/2016 - 09:22


I wouldn't. You work the same muscles for both workouts in this split. Not giving yourself time to recover from the heavy 5x5 lifts in workouts A & B won't be conducive to building strength or muscle as recovering from your workouts is key to muscle development.

If you're looking to workout more than 3 times in a week, I'd consider checking out a 4 or 5 day split. The two below are a couple of our more popular programs. Check them out:



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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 08:13

Can i do smith machine overhead shoulder press, instead of standing press?

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 09:16

Hi JR,

You could, but it'll be more beneficial for you to do the standing press. If you switch them for the smith machine, you'll likely have to do them sitting down. This, along with the fact that the smith machine provides a fixed plane of motion, will eliminate all the stress to the core and other synergistic muscles trying to stabilize the weight used.

If your goal is ultimately to build better strength, then do not make this switch.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 09:56

Thanks Josh. My back is being stressed after a workout. Is that normal or my form is not right in some of the exercises. I feel sore even after a whole day of rest. Please note that this is just my second week of this routine.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:46

It's tough to say. Muscle soreness would be a normal response, especially considering that you are fairly new to the program and the first workout consists of squat, bent over row, and hyerpextensions, all of which will impact the back muscles either directly or indirectly.

It's pretty normal to feel sore days after a workout, especially if you're not in superb conditioning.

Although, if you're not experiencing muscle soreness and it's more along the lines of pain/feels as though there is nerve or structural damage, you may be performing the lifts with incorrect form. This is something you'd want to seek professional help to correct.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:53

Thanks so much for replying Josh.

Also can you please tell me if this is the correct workout routine for me or should i do something more.
I'm 6 foot almost 145 lb weight with 23-25% body fat. Should i follow this routine or should i do something additionally. I've started working out just a month ago. I feel like all my body fat is in my belly. How do i take care of that apart from strict diet.
Thanks again.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:08

You're welcome, JR. It really depends on your long term goals. Since you're just starting out, you'll find it will be easy to burn off that body fat and build muscle. This'll likely continue for well over a year if you're persistent and lock down the diet aspect of fitness.

This program is a beginner program. From the sounds of things, you're reacting as any beginner would. I'd recommend sticking with this program until you feel as though it's too easy (You're moving up in weight every week and not experiencing the soreness mentioned in your prior question). At that point, it might be time to pursue a more challenging program or add in other forms of training like cardio.