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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 its effectiveness.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
12 weeks
3
90 minutes
Barbell, Cables, EZ Bar
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

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:

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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

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.

1.4K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 09/19/2017 - 20:28
Kevin

Hi,

I don't have a cable machine. What exercises can substitute for tricep extension and cable crunch? I have an Olympic barbell and I'm getting dumbells. Thanks.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:48
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

You could go with a french press or overhead tricep extension. As for cable crunches, regular crunches or weighted crunches will do the trick.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 13:28
aurimas

Is it ok if I do elevated deadlifts from 6cm (2.2 inches) wooden block instead? I can't do it from the ground without rounding, but I can do it elevated pertectly. Thank you

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Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 04:29
Chris

Can I add more arm exercises or just keep it as it is?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:38
JoshEngland

Hi Chris,

This program is simply a template, you're more than welcome to alter it however you see fit to better meet your individual goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 09/16/2017 - 15:47
Kevin

What would be the difference if I did the ab crunch machine vs cable crunches

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:40
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

Nothing really, both are ab isolation exercises. You should be fine to do this.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 09/16/2017 - 08:29
JD

Would it be OK to exercise every other day, so it becomes four days in the first week and three days the following week and so on. Or is three days per week recommended to allow the body to recover? Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:39
JoshEngland

Hi JD,

Yes, that would be fine. If you're just starting out, I'd recommend sticking to the 3 days per week and adding that 4th day in as a progression though.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 09/13/2017 - 18:18
Peter

Hey! I lift since 2015 (2 years without stopping), but never did nothing similar to 5x5 or strength based programs, only isolation work. I've made a good progress and have a good looking shape, but my strength is very low. Since this program focuses on strength, will I lose some of my muscles (like shoulders since there is no OHP etc)? Thank you

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Posted Wed, 09/13/2017 - 09:18
Roel

Hello! Just looking for some advice. I used to train for around 2 years straight before I totally stopped due to getting extremely busy at work. About 1 year I did not workout, other than the occasional pushups etc.

Recently, 1 month ago, I got back into working out with the beginner workout routine here on this website. After that, would I be still considered a novice and have to build up from scratch? Or can I go straight into intermediate PPL or PHUL routines? Many thanks!

Looking into perhaps starting this routine.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/13/2017 - 11:23
JoshEngland

Hi Roel,

Our general recommendations based on how we classify workout programs are:

Beginner - Less than 1 yr of training
Intermediate - 1-3 years of training experience
Advance - 3-5 years of training experience.

These should be without any lengthy break (longer than 1 month) Although, those recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt as everyone is different.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/12/2017 - 16:31
Jim

Would you keep the same percentage of 75-65% for the cutting version?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/13/2017 - 08:53
JoshEngland

Hi Jim,

Yes, I'd keep it the same regardless if you're cutting or bulking. (grant it, your 1RM will likely alter depending on your calorie intake).

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/15/2017 - 13:37
Jim

Two other quick questions.

1) is the 2x8 going to be enough for me or should I just push the 3x8 (or will I be too exhausted)
2) Are T-rows suitable in place over bent over rows?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:15
JoshEngland

Hi Jim,

1. You can start off performing 2x8, but try to progress to the point where you are capable of performing 3x8.

2. Are you performing them on a machine or as part of a landmine attachment? Either works the back, but nonmachine exercises will better challenge your core stabilizers.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:44
Jim

I'm doing the classic barbell in the corner caveman style

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 09/15/2017 - 15:04
JoshEngland

hahahaha that should work fine then my friend!

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Posted Tue, 09/12/2017 - 11:17
ken

my gym has only 2.5 kg plates (5.5 lbs) but i need to add 5 lbs each session
what should i do?

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Posted Sun, 09/10/2017 - 11:00
Dan

What would happen if you changed the 5x5s to 3x10s?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:57
JoshEngland

Hi Dan,

You'd switch from a strength focused rep range to a muscle building/hypertrophy rep range.

Both are fine for beginners. Just depends on your individual goals and your training philosophy.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/08/2017 - 12:16
Jack Collins

ICF is the routine I used when I first started lifting, and I made some awesome noob gains and increased greatly in all my lifts. However, I never addressed my diet issues so I remained overweight. I've recently begun dieting quite steadily, and in a sustainable way, but I am eating at about a 500 calorie deficit. Is there a version of ICF that you would recommend to maintain as much strength as possible as I continue to work towards my goal weight?

Stats: 28 Y/O male, 5' 11", 210 lbs, goal weight of 180

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Posted Thu, 09/07/2017 - 08:29
Dan

Any tips on how to warm up and diet e.g. Do you eat at a maintenance or bulk ? And if so how much of you are skinny fat ?

Thanks

Dan

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/07/2017 - 09:41
JoshEngland

Hi Dan,

For warm ups, start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

Diet will depend on your goals, experience level, and current body composition. If you're underweight and would like to build muscle, a surplus might be beneficial. If you're overweight, a deficit might be beneficial. If you're at a healthy bodyweight and composition, it will depend greatly on your goal at the moment.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 08:18
Stephen

Would it be too hard for a beginner to do 5 days instead of 3,like alternate B/A/B/A/B/rest/rest

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 08:34
JoshEngland

Hi Stephen,

Yes it would. Muscles are broken down while in the gym. They're rebuilt through rest and recovery. That is why this program is set up for 3 full body workouts a week.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 11:00
Stephen

what about joggine durnig rest days?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 11:05
JoshEngland

Hi Stephen,

That will depend on your ability to recover, as a beginner it still might be a bit much to begin with. It could possibly be fine though and I personally like to perform some steady state cardio on my own rest days (although, I do it in the form of walking).

Experiment a little and see how you feel. If you're tired during your workouts, turn it down a notch. Fitness is a long-term, lifestyle change and your body is slow to adapt. Give it time and be consistent and you'll accomplish your goals.

Despite what you see everywhere, you dont need to kill yourself to make gains, and honestly it wont get you there any faster. You just need to be consistent for a long time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 02:00
Cheng Soon seng

Hi Jason,
Just checking with you if this program actually not only build strength but also weight loss? Because I got a bit of a tummy and I realize I have been losing weight instead of gaining.
Thanks,
Soon Seng

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Posted Sun, 09/03/2017 - 12:38
Mina

How to lose fat "I am Obese" while sticking to this routine ??

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Posted Fri, 09/01/2017 - 02:33
Raymond

Hey, I was doing squats and everytime I do squats my right hand goes numb and tingling. this sensation last even after the workout. What can i do?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 09/01/2017 - 10:19
JoshEngland

Hi Raymond,

This is simply a guess, but if you're using a barbell for back squats, it might have to do with shoulder mobility issues.

Check out these kinds of barbells (safety, duffalo , trap, cambered, shoulder saver, transformer in particular) and if you're gym has one, give it a shot and see if it alleviates some of that pressure.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/10-crazy-barbells

If the problem persists talk to one of the professionals at your gym. They may either refer you to a doctor or be able to figure out the problem.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/01/2017 - 23:01
Raymond

is there any exercise i can do to fix my problem? because we only have barbell bars at my gym. and how does the barbell bar affect my performance to cause numbness in my hand>

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:39
JoshEngland

Raymond,

As mentioned, that was only a guess. Not knowing you or working with you, it would be impossible for me to know the exact reason why your hand goes numb while squatting.

A lack of shoulder mobility, may however, be pinching a nerve when setting up for a squat and causing your hand to go numb. Again, only a guess.

If you only have barbells and the numbness continues, I'd recommend seeking advice from a professional in person.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/01/2017 - 23:11
Raymond

my gym only has barbell squats. is there anyway I can go fix the lack of shoulder mobility in my right shoulder?

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Posted Sun, 08/27/2017 - 23:01
Jenny

What would warming up look like for this program?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:48
JoshEngland
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Posted Wed, 08/23/2017 - 01:05
Raymond

I tried to do shoulder press with the barbell bar and I wasn't able to do it, can I just do dumbbell shoulder presses?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 08/23/2017 - 09:11
JoshEngland

Hi Raymond,

Absolutely.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/19/2017 - 18:59
Marcus

Hey Jason, watched your video, really nice program! I am little worried about restitution.. Is one rest day enough to hit similar muscle groups again?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/21/2017 - 08:56
JoshEngland

Hi Marcus,

Everyone will recover at a different rate. If you're truly a beginner and recover slowly, feel free to only perform the workouts twice a week until you're ready to progress to 3x per week. Alternatively, you could perform this 1 day on, 2 days off for the time being as well.

This program is simply a template. You have to tailor it to fit your individual needs and goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 08/16/2017 - 13:24
Jat

I want to try and incorporate Chin-Ups in this routine. Which is the best way I could try and do that?

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Posted Wed, 08/16/2017 - 12:19
Jeff

I run track 4-5 times a week. I really want to run this program, but I am afraid I will over train. I try to eat for a chocoholic surplus and sleep 7-10 hours a night. Can I run this program or should I run the main lifts 3x5 and cut out some of the accessories (shrugs, triceps extensions maybe).

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 08/16/2017 - 16:21
JoshEngland

Hi Jeff,

It's tough to say, because everyone is different. You may or may not be able to handle that much workload.

I'd err on the side of caution to begin with and then gradually add things in as a form of progression until you are able to perform the whole routine with your other obligations.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 08/13/2017 - 06:22
Vitalie

is every workout in B 10% lighter?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/14/2017 - 08:44
JoshEngland

Hi Vitalie,

Yes, that is correct.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:46
JoshEngland

Graham,

You are correct, I misread the original question and assumed the question was about every workout during the duration of the program. My apologies. Per this workout, bent over rows are the only exercise that is to be completed using 10% lighter weight.

Thank you for pointing this out!

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Posted Sun, 08/27/2017 - 04:01
graham

i thought its only bent over rows that are 10% lighter the rest you do at the normal weight dont you??

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Posted Sat, 08/12/2017 - 19:28
Freeman Matthews

this may sound silly but where should this routine start in terms of weight before progressing? Does it start from the bar like SL which it is based on?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/14/2017 - 08:43
JoshEngland

Hi Freeman,

I'm not sure there is a prescribed starting point for this routine. I'd say the bar is a fine place to start.

Hope this helps!