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.

374 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:10

Could I do this work out 6 days a week but half of workout A on Monday then other half of A on Tuesday And so on like that?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:27

Hey Andrew,
That's certainly a possibility. However, I wouldn't recommend that. Spending more time in the gym doesn't guarantee more results. If anything, most would benefit from understanding how to rest properly and learn to 'tone down' their sympathetic nervous system.

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Posted Thu, 05/14/2015 - 11:49

Could i do biceps/triceps with cables once a week?

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Posted Wed, 05/13/2015 - 09:36

Can you do this routine with Low Bar Squats instead of high bar?

For the deload protocol can you do it to how SL5x5 deload works, so deload when you stall x3 on a lift not x2?

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Posted Thu, 04/30/2015 - 13:11

Can I reduce the rest times to 2 min for major exercises and 30 seconds for supplemental exercises.

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Posted Wed, 04/29/2015 - 13:04

Hey Jason,

So I'm a complete noob when it comes to weight training but luckily I happened to come across your novice program. I was just wondering, since I'm 5'5 and around 130 lbs what's the appropriate weight range I should be using for each exercise?

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Posted Fri, 04/24/2015 - 17:22

I'm 50 yrs old. Too old for this? are the warm ups part of the 5x5 or additional? is it more for strength or for muscle building?


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Posted Sat, 05/02/2015 - 10:12

From what ive read on here and from the video, as long as you don't have any injuries to your back for deadlifts and squats and such you should be fine to do this program. warm ups are not part of the 5x5 so doing 1-2 sets of a lighter weight prior is ok. This program is to build strength which in turn will also build muscle.

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Posted Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:07


im 1,80meters / 80kg. I want the definition of my body. Is this program okay for gaining muscles/definition or just for gaining muscles and after i should change to a split / diet?


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Posted Sat, 04/18/2015 - 07:13

Is there a way to do the cable crunches, tricep extensions, and hyperextensions at home. I can't afford a gym membership.

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Posted Mon, 05/11/2015 - 15:44

You can do weighted crunched, standing overhead barbell tricp extensions, and google "lower back workouts at home" and you can probably find something

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Posted Wed, 05/13/2015 - 10:57

so weighted crunches and overhead tricep extensions can replace the cable exercises??????

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Posted Sat, 04/18/2015 - 07:11

I don't belong to a gym and work out at home. Is there another way to do the cable crunches, tricep extensions, and hyper extensions at home?

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Posted Fri, 04/17/2015 - 11:34

Please answer this because is important and crucial. As an ectomorph this routine can be uneffective?? since its takes too long, I performed it this week and I takes me until two hours or two hour and a half, and I dont chat in the gym, I had read that an ectomorph should train quick, like 45 minutes, so my question is if this routine made be bad for an ectomorph?

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Posted Fri, 04/17/2015 - 19:19

You need to keep going. I am an ectomorph and it used to take me close to 1 hr 45 min. Now I can do each of the workouts in just over an hour. Workout b is quicker to do. Take less time between sets and reps. This routine has helped me. Even when I'm busy and miss a workout on a particular day, I don't lose too much progress overall. They key is to be consistent and keep increasing the weight on that last set for each workout and I guarantee you will see a change

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Posted Wed, 04/15/2015 - 13:22

I noticed that Chin ups/Lat pull downs are not part of this routine. Is it acceptable to tack one of those exercises in the one of the allotted days? I'm looking to add it to routine B.

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Posted Sun, 04/12/2015 - 09:10

can i training chin ups in some day or not? i really like that exercice

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Posted Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:57

Does this program work for skinny guys like me. I have tried other beginner programs for months and NEVER put on any muscle.

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Posted Sat, 05/02/2015 - 10:48

you have to eat enough calories

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Posted Wed, 04/08/2015 - 12:49

Hello, first I'd like to thank to author for valuable workout plan! I read the article multiple times, video as well, but I still don't have clear about one thing. How many warm up sets should I do before every 5x5 exercises and what weight (% of my working set weight) should I use ? Maybe I just didn't understand well the video because of my poor english, in this case I apologize. Thank you in advance for reply.

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Posted Sat, 05/02/2015 - 10:49

I also had that question but i think you just do 1-2 warmups before of like 5-10 reps. nothing too heavy. just to get blood flowing

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Posted Sun, 03/29/2015 - 17:11

hey guys I'm starting this workout tomorrow, and i was wonder which exercises are the main lifts in both workout A and workout B?

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Posted Tue, 03/17/2015 - 20:13

So far it's been 4 months, I started at 123 lbs and have put on ~13 lbs of lean muscle.
My squats started at 115 5x5, I'm now at 225 5x5
Bench is 160 5x5
DL is at 275x5

The gains are showing no signs of slowing down.

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Posted Sat, 03/14/2015 - 19:54

After doing this program for a full year including a 9 month bulk followed by a 3 month cut, I can safely say it is fantastic for a novice. If you put the effort in on this program you'll get so much more back from it.
That means being consistent and doing it properly at all stages.

In my opinion it's the best novice program out there if you can handle it.

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Posted Fri, 03/13/2015 - 08:21

Is it ok to keep on alternating the workouts every 2 days without the rest days on the weekends?

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Posted Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:39

Should I warm up before lifting? If so how do I go about it? Do I do one lite life before each exercise? Thanks in advance.

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Posted Mon, 03/09/2015 - 11:59

Doesn't the routine lack some lats work like pull-ups? How could I go about incorporating them without adding in more volume?

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Posted Fri, 05/15/2015 - 07:22

The program has barbell rows in both workouts... there's plenty of lat work.

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Posted Sun, 03/08/2015 - 06:30

Hey can I add pull ups on Workout B instead of Curls? And substitute workout A's tricep extension with dips? I know the FAQ says to substitute cgbp with dips but I like both exercises. Thanks!

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Posted Fri, 03/06/2015 - 17:43

For some reason the video is not coming up on this site on my phone, how reps do u recommend for these workouts thanks

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Posted Fri, 03/06/2015 - 14:01

I am fairly new to weight lifting so i apologize if this is a bad question to ask. Is it better to finish all sets of one exercise before moving to the next or should I rotate exercises between each set?

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Posted Wed, 02/25/2015 - 05:32

this guy gets ripped apart on getbig.com....LOL

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Posted Tue, 02/24/2015 - 17:39

I started this workout a little over 6 months ago and it has been absolutely awesome. A huge part of this workout is making sure that you do it 3 times a week, every single week. (I did it Mon-Wed-Fri after work.)

After 1 month, you will notice changes in yourself.
After 2 months, your close friends/family will start to notice changes.
After 3 months, everyone starts to realize the change you've made in your life.

Thanks Jason! Seriously man, thank you.

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Posted Sun, 03/22/2015 - 18:21

Had u lifted before? . I'm going onna beach holiday in sep. Would I notice a difference buy sep?? Did you check your diet? Cheers

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Posted Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:28

What about warm up sets do I need to do them and how much. Is one warm up set of 5 reps okay for major exercises and one warm up set of 8 reps for smaller exercises.
Secondly is the cutting version ideal for muscle gain or the standard version

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Posted Wed, 03/25/2015 - 14:06

Cutting version is for when you are dieting and trying to lose body fat. If you want to gain muscle it's better to do the normal thing, not the cutting version.

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Posted Mon, 02/16/2015 - 14:55

Can I do sprinting for 20 minutes twice per week with this program .

Also can I reduce the rest period between sets and exercises to 1 -2 minutes.

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Posted Sat, 02/14/2015 - 22:40

I am very new to this but it looks like something I would like to try. I have hit a plateau in my workout and looking for something different. My question is after doing this for a two week period, going into week three do you just repeat the workouts, and continue to increase the weights?

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Posted Sat, 02/14/2015 - 11:38

Like the workout, not a fan of your dick attitude in the video though.

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Posted Tue, 02/10/2015 - 13:10

Please can someone help me should i add the weight every training session or every other? Im skinny trying to gain muscle mass!!! Thanks

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Posted Mon, 02/09/2015 - 06:01

Not really a question of "I don't wanna do this, I wanna do this instead" but;
A: I work out in a sort of crowded gym so the area for the cable crunches might not be free all the time so is the ab machine sort of the same thing but a machine instead?
B: I'm not sure if the gym has a station to do the hyperextensions...

Please don't reply with "switch gym", I live in a shit hole of a town with one or two small gyms.

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Posted Mon, 02/09/2015 - 05:56

Hi Jason,

I know I'm late to the party, but I've only recently come across your excellent YouTube videos, which contain the most common-sense, honest advice I've heard on weight training.

I'm 49. I only started lifting four years ago, but I regard myself as intermediate. I've squatted 180k. I've always used full body routines. I've read widely, tried to find proper research, which is why I prefer full-body.

I like the look of this routine a lot [and for everyone who's looking for a routine, please note: Jason's kindly giving this away FREE, not like many online 'trainers' who charge stupid money for impractical six-day a week routines aimed at novices]. But would you recommend that I, as an older lifter, perhaps do 3x5 instead of 5x5? I know this is described as a novice program, but I think it's suitable for mostly everyone and can continue to be productive. Would I be right in thinking that?


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Posted Sun, 02/08/2015 - 11:18

four weeks into this routine, when i complete my big lifts now my body is already exhausted, i feel like the ladder is suffering, curl, row, tricep extension, close grip bench press. i know i can lift more on these but i put so much into the first sets that i cant go as heavy as i know i can because I'm fatigued. when im done with a session i am totally beat. would it benefit me to split each day into a morning and afternoon routine i.e. squat, bench press, row in the morning and the rest in the afternoon or evening so i can go heavier just a thought.
(squat 225, deadlift 295, bench 140, press 85)

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Posted Sat, 02/07/2015 - 20:12
41yo novice

4 and a half months in now and even with two weeks break for a holiday I am still making great gains. I swear I sometimes actually seem to grow overnight. My forearms and biceps are noticibly larger and I feel so strong. Back and chest are definitely bigger. Legs are hard and showing definition. Every muscle in my body seems to be worked hard. And I always have that nice tingling feeling in my muscles reminding me I gave them a thorough workout. Do this workout( I was a complete first timer) and you will notice great gains about week 8 and in my case they only get better. Thanks Jason

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Posted Wed, 02/04/2015 - 16:22

Would you recommend with workout for a intermediate lifter?

I've been lifting for 3 years and gained a substantial amount of size and strength.

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Posted Mon, 02/02/2015 - 08:31

I'm a girl who lifts. I'm already pretty strong but have trouble structuring my workouts. Would you recommend this for a female? If so, would you recommend it for someone at my level?
(I am def not a beginner/novice but definitely still have plenty of room for knowledge and improvement)


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Posted Sun, 02/01/2015 - 15:19

Hey guys I know I'm a bit late to this but I'm at 215 lbs 5'10" I'm a bit on the heavy side so I was wondering for someone my size what kind of diet should I be on to get the most out of the is routine, bulking? Cutting? Or just try and maintain weight thanks

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Posted Sat, 01/31/2015 - 20:16

If I am sore come the next workout should I still perform the workout or what should I do

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Posted Wed, 01/28/2015 - 05:35

I have a home gym and I cant afford the gym nor can i get any of the cable stuff for Cable Crunches, Hyperextensions with plate and tricep extensions. So what are the alternatives i can go for?

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Posted Sun, 01/25/2015 - 18:57

Should I do warmup before deadlifts?