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.

1K Comment+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 08/22/2016 - 12:18
Calvin parker

How much weight should I do with these movements İ just started ? Please answer

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Posted Mon, 08/22/2016 - 07:42

On Stronglifts you are suppose to switch from 5x5 to 3x5 on an exercise when you have to lower to weight twice, should I do the same on this program?

Also should there be a pause at the bottom of the chin ups?

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Posted Mon, 08/22/2016 - 02:38

Hi, I had a friend that recommended this program to me so I checked it out and I plan on trying it. I had a few questions though.

I'm currently 6'3 301 pounds, and I'm trying to lose weight. At the beginning of 2016 I had lost about 30 pounds just doing cardio, but I noticed I was losing lots of muscle so I stopped. I was wondering if this program was good for losing weight (fat) as well as gaining muscle? He told me to modify the workout and do 3x5. I was also planning to add cardio on days off and I'm currently eating at about a 500 calorie deficit. Is this the right program for me? Any tips? Thanks in advance.

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Posted Mon, 08/22/2016 - 09:39

Hi Luke,

Congrats on starting your fitness journey, it certainly sounds like you are heading in the right direction. Yes, a weight lifting routine will aid in both fat loss and muscle building, especially within the first couple years of dedicating yourself to a fitness program.

You may modify the program by cutting the main lifts from 5x5 to 3x5 and the accessory lifts from 3x8 to 2x8. As you progress and get stronger, you will either want to add more weight or try to add the sets you've cut while modifying the workout.

If you enjoy doing cardio and feel you will still have ample time to recover between workouts while doing it, you may add cardio days to this program.

Yes, a 300-500 calorie deficit is a good range to stick with while trying to lose fat. I've also provided a couple of reference expert guides at the bottom of this common to help you along with your fitness journey.



Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 08/10/2016 - 15:19
David. L

Hi, been running this program for 8 months. In this time, my legs have seen the most growth - by far. This is because they were already pretty big due to previous leg-dominant sports I did and I must have a genetic predisposition to faster quad growth. However, my legs are now wildly disproportionate to my body. They are also very top-heavy, which if I'm honest, makes them look pretty ugly, this is also due to my body's unfavourable muscle insertions and genetics. With all that said, can/should I stop squatting for a while and let my upper body catch up?

Many thanks,
-David. L

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Posted Wed, 08/10/2016 - 03:56

Hi, my gym has a smith machine instead of regular bench press rack. Dumbbels are only limited to 56 pouns /25kg each, wich dont feel heavy for me anymore. Is it ok to do bench press with smith machine from now on?

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Posted Mon, 08/15/2016 - 18:16

Short answer: No.

Smith Machine is a pretty bad option but if its between Smith and nothing....Id chose Smith.

If you continue to get stronger I would serioulsy consider finding a gym to suit your needs. When you get bigger do you buy bigger clothes? When you get hungry do you eat more food?

Your body is begging for progressive overload...feed it! Give it heavier weight!

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Posted Mon, 08/08/2016 - 16:08

can i perform front squat for workout a the normal squat for workout b?

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Posted Tue, 08/02/2016 - 23:40

Would you recommend this for skinny guys?

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Posted Thu, 08/18/2016 - 13:30


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Posted Tue, 08/02/2016 - 13:45

I want to do this program but I had a question... My goal is to get bigger and put on size but I also have a bit of fat on my lower abs and stomach area I want to get rid of. Should I first focus on losing the excess fat on my stomach or first focus on getting bigger and putting on size? The former, I assume, requires a caloric deficit, while the latter requires a caloric surplus so which should I do first? Thx

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Posted Sun, 08/14/2016 - 06:54

I have the same problem but I think in the video he said that dieting and nutrition would help with fat loss he said not cardio but I assume this applies to the weight training also

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2016 - 20:41

hi, says to increase weight by 5lbs each workout.. how long is this momentum in progression meant to last??? i started this about 6 months ago and numbers are currently stagnant. especially squats, am i really meant to increase squat 5lbs when i squat 3 times a week? 15lbs every week?? if i AM meant to do that then what am i doing wrong because right now i am going up 5lbs every 2 or 3 weeks thanks

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2016 - 20:27

when to take creatine on an every-other-day schedule like this? should i take creatine on the rest days?

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Posted Wed, 08/10/2016 - 08:44

You can take creatine everyday, including rest days.

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Posted Sun, 08/21/2016 - 19:16

Take creatine everyday

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2016 - 17:30
Mike Y.

How can I add to this program dips and pull ups, seems kinda odd this kind of program doesn't have this exercises. And is adding each workout 1 exercise of calves of 4xfailure (12-16) will do?

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Posted Sun, 07/31/2016 - 23:08

I saw somebody who made great aesthetic and mass gains on this program, actually ran a slight modification. Workout A is basically the same, however Workout B is also same except it starts with a 4x5 deadlift, followed by 3x5 squat. I did it today, felt great, had well enough energy for later exercises. Thoughts on this mod? Like, possible implications, possible dangers etc.

Also, I have a home gym that I resourced in somewhat of a hurry - the barbell and plates are 'STANDARD' instead of 'OLYMPIC'. I don't have enough money to buy a whole new set of OLYMPIC, so I was just wondering your thoughts on this too? They work fine but while my lifts go up in weight I am scared something bad will happen - because every commercial gym i've ever heard of has OLYMPIC barbells and plates and this must be for a reason.

Thank you

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Posted Sun, 07/31/2016 - 18:44

Can I subtitute curls with pullups(palms facing each other),triceps extensions with dips and include chinups on a dayThanks in advance and nice work.

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Posted Thu, 07/28/2016 - 21:25

Can i superset chin-ups with dips? I find them fairly easy. Or should I just add extra weight?>?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/29/2016 - 09:01

Do both.

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Posted Tue, 07/26/2016 - 12:19

Sorry that this isn't really relevant but it's weighing heavily on my mind.. I started lifting about 3 months ago, and about 2 months on this program. I started at 140lbs, had an alright six pack, but still a bit of chub all around my body somehow (I think it's called skinny fat) (and I am 5'10 btw). But ALREADY I am fat. It's really pissing me off, and I don't know whether to just continue bulking, or cut ALREADY. I am scared if I cut now, I will just go back to looking how I was before... (I am currently 168lbs)

I see the likes of David Laid who maintained his 6 pack his ENTIRE 4 years of lifting, and I just feel so inadequate.. Please some advice..

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/27/2016 - 12:29

You gained 28lbs in 12 weeks, it's no wonder your body composition went down hill. Aim for a 0.75-1lb of weight gain per week. Read this: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

David seems to be much taller than you and he started with a different body composition. Stop comparing yourself to others. Get lean(er). Go slow. Be patient.

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Posted Mon, 07/25/2016 - 23:01

Is it okay for building muscle mass? Or for gaining strength only?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/26/2016 - 09:38

The two are never mutually exclusive. So to answer both of your questions, it can be used for both.

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Posted Mon, 07/25/2016 - 22:53

Is this applicable even for skinny guys or in bulking stage?

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Posted Sun, 07/24/2016 - 02:27

I've always struggled with poor stamina while running, and have been doing light cardio (10 minutes of off and on jogging/walking on the treadmill) for the past month or so to finish off my workout. I'm heavily considering switching to this plan, as I'm currently having trouble gaining weight. Should the cardio go, or can I keep it up without worrying about "losing gains?"

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Posted Mon, 07/25/2016 - 20:55

I would say yes, do this program, and you can do cardio if you want to, but I'd suggest doing it on rest days because if you do it before your workout you might get too tired during the actual workout, and if you pushed yourself hard during the workout, you might not have enough energy to do it after the workout. And make sure to know around how much calories you burned during the cardio and add then add those calories back on in your diet

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Posted Fri, 07/22/2016 - 01:42

I have been lifting for about 2 years, but my numbres are far from impressive:
220lb bench, 315lb squat, 340lb deadlift (all 1RM) I weigh about 158-160 lbs, would you recommend this program to me or should i transition to an Upper Lower program? I have never been on a "real" program, most of my gains were made on a push/pull/legs with way too much volume I think.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/22/2016 - 09:09

Do whatever program you enjoy most. If that's P/P/L with an intelligent programming, then run that. If it's 5x5 and you enjoy it, run that. It will depend upon your goals.

But, P/P/L is just as much of a "real program" as 5x5.

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Posted Thu, 07/21/2016 - 21:00

Couple questions:

Right now these work outs only take me an hour at most. Can I add incline and decline bench presses and chest flies? Also is there any advantage to doing bench presses with dumbbells instead of a barbell?

Also, while I have enjoyed this program is it not true that for muscle growth 8-12 rep sets are ideal? When only doing 5 rep sets I find I don't feel the exercise as intensely as when I do more reps. Am I lifting too light perhaps?


MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/22/2016 - 09:22

1. Why do you want to add all of that unnecessary volume? If your bench sets aren't challenging, add some weight. You can bench with DBs if you prefer. There is a larger stability component at the shoulder with DBs versus a barbell.

2. This is a somewhat loaded question and really the best way to answer it is, "it depends". 8-12 reps generally corresponds with a specific amount of time under tension for the muscle. HOWEVER, that is highly context dependent - aka what %age of your 1-RM are you using, is the exercise in a superset with anything else? What sort of tempo are you using? Etc.

To answer your second question about the load being too light, I'd say given your first question, it sounds like it is.

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Posted Tue, 07/19/2016 - 08:08

So I got an exertion headache yesterday because of incorrect breathing during squats. It was pretty bad, the really bad pain lasted about 30 minutes and then tailed off and lingered for the rest of the day. I went back in today knowing I couldn't do anything heavy, I just wanted to see what I could do, and well, I can't even do warm-up weight..

What do I do? I don't want to lose my progress and gains; I was on such a good streak :/

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:46

Ideally start with a full week completely off. Get in some aerobic work (walking, biking, hiking, swimming, rowing, etc.) provided it doesn't cause any additional symptoms and read both of these pieces:
1. http://www.apexllc.org/articles/exertion-headaches/
2. http://breakingmuscle.com/health-medicine/lifting-headaches-how-to-spot-...

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Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 02:44

Hey, been running this program for a couple months and it's great so far.
3 things:

1) I have heard that rowing movements increase back thickness, and pulling movements increase back width. I like doing pullups, and I want back width too. Can I add maybe a 3x8 pullups on both workout A and B, or is this futile/unnecessary?

2) My chest is a major lagging part. My strength has been increasing on bench at a good pace and my form is good etc. But I just haven't seen any change in my chest, and genetically it does not occupy a large surface area on my torso. So can I add more chest work? And if so, what would you recommend?

3) Is it ok to do this every other day, instead of Mon Wed Fri? I 15 with not a lot of responsibilities so I can workout whenever I want and it just seems like a waste to rest 2 days in a row. But if it's beneficial to take those 2 days off then I will obviously do it.

Thank you so much!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:02

1) Yes.
2) Add dips, that's enough for now.
3) As you get stronger you won't be able to hit a session everyday. Ideally it would be every other day or if you dropped some volume you could train 2ON/2OFF/2ON/1OFF.

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Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 12:18

Hey thanks a lot for the reply! But on 3) I meant to say 'every other day' meaning:
(Mon Wed Fri Sun - Tue Thu Sat) Repeat

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 14:09

Ah, misread that. My fault. Yes, every other day is ideal.

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Posted Thu, 07/14/2016 - 15:40

Thank you so much, very quick and helpful, I appreciate it!

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Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 06:47

I've found this program only takes me about 1 hour per work out? Is this too short? Am I doing something wrong?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:37

As you get stronger, you'll have to take longer rest periods and thus the length of each training session will increase.

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Posted Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:29

I'm just starting out, what weight should I start on for the bench press and stuff?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:38

The bar. If you can't press that, start with dumbbells.

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Posted Sun, 07/10/2016 - 22:23
George McDougall

What weight would be considered intermediate level overhead press?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/11/2016 - 11:57

Depends on your bodyweight. Relative strength is what determines an individuals level of development. Overhead pressing 135 at a bodyweight of 200lbs isn't that impressive.

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Posted Sun, 07/10/2016 - 16:06

For an accessory with dumbbells should I add 5 lbs or 2.5 to each dumbbell, like a shoulder press or something similar.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/11/2016 - 11:31

Increase in the smallest increments possible as small increases with DBs (2.5lbs/hand) equate to large differences given the increased stability demands.

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Posted Sat, 07/09/2016 - 06:43

Hi! My gym has only one bench and squat rack. Sometimes there are people on those racks doing exercises so I am not able to use them instantly. Is it ok that when I am not able to use those racks, instead of bench press I do dumbbel press 5x5?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/11/2016 - 11:56

Yes, that's fine.

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Posted Mon, 07/04/2016 - 12:06

I'm really interested in starting this training, but I just got diagnosed a 5mm tear in my right shoulder. What exercices should I skip and what I could replace them with?