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
M&S writers is a collection of all the other writers that have published content on Muscle and Strength.

538 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 10/01/2015 - 19:53


I did this program for several months with success before herniating a disc in my lower back.

I'm in my first week back since then and I'm able to do all workouts except for squats and deadlines. Is there something you'd recommend in lieu of these? I've been trying to do both bar only.

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Posted Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:38

I've completed the P90X routine three times - Classic twice and Mass once. I want to get into lifting, should I start with this routine or am I past a "novice" skill level?

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Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 18:57
Din fin

Do you recommend replacing one day of bicep work with close grip chins? Or is this over doing since I'm already rowing, and so my back will fatigue quickly, faster than my biceps?


MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 09/29/2015 - 09:29

You could certainly do that and I would definitely recommend more upper back work for this program. However, move the chinups earlier in the program rather than second to last.

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Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 14:48

My gym is daily small and lacks a bench rack. Instead it has a smith machine. Is it possible to do dumbbell bench instead of barbell?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 09/29/2015 - 09:25

Sure, you can certainly run this program with dumbbells but just keep in mind that it'll be tougher to make jumps with dumbbells once you become more advanced since it's a 5lb jump per arm instead of 5lbs total added to the bar. So, look to progress perhaps every other session or even just once per week instead.

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Posted Tue, 09/29/2015 - 17:49

This is good to know :)
My gym is getting a refit soon, so hopefully they get a decent rack!

Thanks for answering

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Posted Sun, 09/27/2015 - 02:06

At what point do I assume I'm no longer a novice and ready for the next stage? I was a little bit out of shape and now back to what i feel good about where I'm at and want to continue to define what I've worked so hard for. Really what im asking is where do I go from here. What training program should I be utilizing after this one?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 09:55

That's a fairly broad question that is very context dependent. There are certain standards for intermediate lifters in terms of strength levels but that isn't always the case for everyone. In regards to which program to progress to, that will depends on a whole host of variables: goals, injury history, individual differences, preferences, current training, maximal recoverable volume, asymmetries, etc.

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Posted Sat, 09/26/2015 - 00:01
Din fin

Increments for exercises like the bench, row and the press, after the initial increasing, how should I increase? I don't want to buy any weights lower than 5lbs. Can I add 5lbs every other workout for bench, the press, and barbell Row, since they won't increase as fast as the squat or deadlift every workout?


MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 09:50

Din fin,
You can either make your own (see here: http://stronglifts.com/madcow/Topics/Microloading.htm) or you can simply work to progress every other workout or once a week or even once every other week if you choose to continue with linear progression.

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Posted Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:12

This might be a dumb question byt why would you do fewer sets when cutting?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 09:37

When you have less nutrients and overall calories on board then there is less energy to work with regarding volume, intensity, frequency, and duration. You must manipulate one of those variables if you manipulate other variables (i.e. calories in this case).

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Posted Tue, 09/22/2015 - 11:11

I'm a complete novice. I was wondering if there's any way to know how much weight i should be starting with for different exercises.

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Posted Sun, 09/20/2015 - 20:17

So im a underweight person of 47 kg wanting to gain weight and build more muscle. Is this a program right for me?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/21/2015 - 09:46

Muscle gain certainly requires training but when it comes to actually putting on muscle you have to eat for it. See here:

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 09/19/2015 - 21:02

Hey there,

How much weight should I be starting out with with this program?


MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/21/2015 - 09:47

If you were just starting out with weight lifting you could start with the bar and work your way up but if not, then I would simply work up to a moderately challenging set of 5 for your top set and then work to increase the number of sets with that weight the next workout before moving up in weight again.

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Posted Sat, 09/19/2015 - 17:51

Hey, sorry if this was covered. Will this workout work for ectomorphs and young people?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/21/2015 - 09:43

Somatotypes (ecto, meso, endo) are laregly physiological irrelevant - see here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

Any training system can work if the person emotionally buys into the process, enjoys the structure, and can recover from the frequency, intensity, and volume.

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Posted Wed, 09/16/2015 - 12:12

What do you think of Rack pulls for a alternative to hyperextensions.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 09/17/2015 - 10:37

Eh, they certainly could work given they both (somewhat) train the hip hinge pattern but I'm be worried about the lingering fatigue from them going into your deadlift session the next workout.

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Posted Tue, 09/15/2015 - 17:50

Having never been to the gym before, I'd feel a little self conscious about doing the Hyperextensions and Cable Crunches exercises since they look like I don't know what I'm doing. Any thoughts on this? You say not to change a thing.

Thanks for the help, especially the video demonstrations.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 09/17/2015 - 10:48

They're not too hard to figure out if you watch a few video demonstrations on the topic. If have questions about form, feel free to head over to the forums and start a thread, there are plenty of members (including myself) there that will be more than willing to help you out.

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Posted Sun, 09/13/2015 - 17:51

Some questions from me as a total beginner...
1. Is this program suited for me even though I'm still young(15)
2. Can this program be done at home? (Since I'm not allowed to be working on my strength in a gym, because of my age)
3. Any other things I should know before starting this program?(like eating habits, form, where to buy equipment)
4. Tips on home training and training from a young age?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:58

I would work on more body weight specific movements and focus on building solid motor patterns initially rather than worrying about pushing heavy weight.

This program can be accomplished at home but it would require a significant amount of equipment already available.

Regarding nutrition and muscle gain, I would start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

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Posted Sun, 09/13/2015 - 08:56

how long should i continue doing this routine?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:53

I would say you could run this routine for a while depending upon when you plateau and your current goals.

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Posted Fri, 09/11/2015 - 00:39

So are we supposed to add increments every next work out. For example on Monday we start with A and Friday we do A again do we add weight the same week or the third week when A starts again or every week add more ?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 09/11/2015 - 09:26

You add weight every workout.

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Posted Thu, 09/10/2015 - 18:05

hey man, looks great, looking to start dedicated workout from scratch on monday 21st september so just getting all the info i need together.
1. Can I add an extra session every 14 days? eg mon- a, wed- b, fri- a sun- b, tues- a?

2. a) With this workout to build muscle do i need to be eating 300-500 calories over my TDEE like is recommended for normal mass building?
2.b) Will i not put on loads more fat than necessary if i'm only working out 3 times a week eating 2800 cals a day, 7 days a week?

3.I do kickboxing on thursdays, is it okay to do this on a rest day and then continue with the gym workout the day after (friday)?

Sorry for the all the questions.


MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 09/11/2015 - 09:37

1. Yes, that'd be fine.
2. Yep, you always need to be eating more calories than you're burning if your goal is to put on muscle mass. 2800 isn't that many calories in all honesty, much of the eating game is more mental than anything else. For example, I routinely take in over 4,000 calories a day. You get used to eating more as you do just that, eat more.
3. On off days you can certainly participate in other activities but competing demands may become an issue if your recreational activities begin to affect your performance in subsequent training sessions. If your goal is be better at kickboxing then focus on that and don't sweat your training numbers as much. However, if your goals are more strength or physique oriented then it's important to weigh the risk and rewards of extra activities and how they're affecting your training sessions.

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Posted Thu, 09/10/2015 - 15:04

What if i replace flat benchpress with incline or decline one ? if it's acceptable,then which of those to is recommended?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 09/11/2015 - 09:37

I would go with incline personally.

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Posted Wed, 09/09/2015 - 08:45
stig Johnny Hansen

Why isn't there any chest workout on workout B?? is it ok to ad one on workout B??

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 09/09/2015 - 09:29

You don't need to be benching every day. If anything there should be horizontal rowing daily instead.

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Posted Sun, 09/06/2015 - 03:12

Is it fine to add bodyweight exercises such as pullups pushups chinups dips and muscle ups etc to this routine? One of my main goals of working out is to be able to do all of them for entertainment purposes. If so should I add it to the routine or on rest days?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 09/08/2015 - 12:05

You can certainly cater your assistance work towards more bodyweight variations if you wish. Simply substitute movements that have similar movement patterns:

Diamond pushups for close grip bench
Pullups for pulldowns

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Posted Tue, 09/01/2015 - 07:34

If I was to alternate these workouts one day on, one day off (so 4 times a week every other week) - would this be ok?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 09/01/2015 - 09:21

That's indeed a viable but your linear progression in which you try to add 5lbs per week will likely become impossible very quickly given the intensity required for the program after the first 2 or 3 months.

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

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

I would recommend starting with just the bar actually.

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Posted Sat, 08/29/2015 - 11:55

if im going to start with just a bar .. how much weight should i add every time ako go to the gym?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 08/31/2015 - 10:24

Blaha recommends trying to increase 5lbs every session (3x/week).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.