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 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
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
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

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.

362 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:03
John Cooke
This routine seriously changed my life!
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Posted Wed, 10/16/2013 - 15:13
how long have you done this program.... were you a real novice?
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:17
Tiago Vasconcelos
Best novice routine out there
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:25
I've used this routine for quite sometime with huge success.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:33
The most important part of any lifting routine and should ALWAYS done first is a... front double bicep shot or your sets/reps won't count.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:52
Great program! One thing I did wrong was add weight every workout to hyper extensions, eventually it got really hard on me knees and I couldn't squat for awhile. Go easy with those!
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 15:59
no f***ing around here do the routine as prescribed by the video and you'll get results as a novice good shit 5/5
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 16:08
TFW no credit :( I cri
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 16:16
Soooo, how long should one be on this program? your always hearing to change things up and keep the body guessing.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 20:23
Tiago Vasconcelos
Until you plateau and don't make any strength gains. Then you must switch to a non-linear prioritization program.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 03:39
For 6-12 months. You are changing things up, you are changing the weight on the bar every session. I expect this program to carry someone of average height (less for shorter and more weight for taller individuals) to 225x5 bench, 315x5 squat and a 405x5 deadlift.
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Posted Tue, 11/05/2013 - 22:16
Jason I'm 15 and 120 pounds and I'm interested in your workout. Is your program fine for people my age? What do I need to watch out for to make sure I don't hurt myself?
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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 14:42
Jason, right now I can Bench 225x5, but am no where near 315x5, 405x5 on squat/deadlift. I am about to start your program. Is it bad that I am so disproportionate and will this program even me out in the long run?
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Posted Tue, 03/25/2014 - 14:32
Squats/ Deadlift with belt or without? If so, when to utilize?
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Posted Mon, 12/02/2013 - 01:53
Ignore that. It's wrong for a novice who needs to learn the lifts and gain strength. Do this till you no longer can add weight 2-3 deloads in a row, then look into something like Madcow 5x5 or the texas method. Usually you'll be deadlifting 1.5x bodyweight and squatting 1.25x bodyweight by then.(Just an approximation i've heard) Good luck!
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Posted Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:54
I've been doing this for a month or so and other than some minor back ache it's going well. However I'm not seeing or feeling any significant results yet, should I be? Am I doing enough or am I being impatient? Also whilst I'm being rigorous with following the routine exactly, I'm not sure if I'm lifting heavy enough. At the moment I only squat 50kg, and bench 20kg. I don't have a spot partner so moving up is pretty risky as I feel I'm at my limit with these weights towards the end of my sets. I'm 6'3 and weigh around 170 pounds. My body doesn't seem to want to change, for better or worse!
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Posted Thu, 10/09/2014 - 14:11
You are tall and relatively lean, so moving that weight is going to be a little more difficult than if you were shorter/had more mass. One month is still very early to be seeing a lot of results - the first month is mostly your body getting accustomed to the work, your strength will get more noticeable if you keep sticking with it. Feeling like you are at your limit at the end of your sets is okay! It is meant to be difficult. Just make sure you are getting enough calories (with your height/weight you probably could eat at a surplus, depending on your goals), enough rest on your days off, and you should be able to continue for months.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 16:40
I put my friends on this program with added calf work and face pulls, though I'm wondering if the squat should be low bar or high bar, or is it entirely up to one's preference? I usually say low bar, to work more on the hammies and glutes.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 17:31
Its really a personal preference. I decided to do highbar because my ass and hamstrings are just getting out of control compared to my quads.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 20:24
Tiago Vasconcelos
Preference, just make sure whatever you chose, you stick with it.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 16:41
Should the squat be low bar or high bar? Original 5x5 says low bar and that's what I usually put people on.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 17:10
If you have the time, this routine is the best there is. The volume will be overwhelming, but if you keep at it, you will eventually adapt to the higher workload which will set you up beautifully for most intermediate programs.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 17:29
I was 12 months on a bodypart split before switching to this program. My 3 month experience has been incredible to say the least! I have progressed on the weight more than I did on my first 12 months on a bodypart split! I have also noticed huge change in my physique. I used to have a little definition of muscles but was definitely small. Now I have just blown and I can now honestly say that I have some mass! Beginners PLEASE if you want serious gains DO THIS PROGRAM. You will feel like you're on steroids compared to bodypart splits and I'm 100% serious! Thanks a lot Jason for this awesome program!
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 05:58
would you recommend a person who has done bro splits for over two years to do this program ?
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Posted Sat, 12/21/2013 - 11:16
Agree with James here! You will get swole and once you start doing the compounds the weight of your own bodyweight your friends gonna be asking if you started juicing.
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Posted Thu, 10/10/2013 - 19:52
For someone who's mostly recovered from elbow tendonitis/tendonosis(not sure which one I had sadly), would you recommend using this over a split workout? I've had a lot of workout experience in the past, but I'm coming back from about a 3 month hiatus. I'm a pretty skinny guy, so I'm back to a pretty measly weight. Is there any way that'd be more efficient to alter the reps/sets for someone recovering?
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 05:50
GREAT program! This will put muscle on you. 6 weeks in and 6lbs of muscle so far. And this is with an ok diet, I should actually be eating a lot more.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 06:31
Although I have had a hard time building muscle and strength (not due to this program) I have made steady gains while on this program. I do recommend this program for every beginner, its a lot of fun. Just the right amount of volume.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 06:51
This program is a beast. All my lifts keep going up. For example, my squats went from 115 to 180 pounds ( ATG ) in about 3 weeks WHILE on a CUT. I'm now following it on a bulk, and will be sure to post results when done. :)
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 07:13
Graham Ashbridge
Best beginner program there is.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 12:03
This routine is soooo good bro, all my lifts have went up so much that I've had to move to the same gym as jay cutler and train with him bro, get on it bro eat chicken and rice brobrahbros
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 12:34
To note. This is a tied and true method since the beginning and middle half of the 20th century. 5x5 full body is nothing new, and has always brought about huge gains for the person willing to do the work. Some people don't even need anything else then this for the rest of their lives, most of them are naturals. Most of my gainz are made on 5x5 programs, so go get some you to.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 12:56
Is there a version for injured back (herniated disc)
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Posted Mon, 03/10/2014 - 17:26
I have my own version for my herniated disc, have a look and see what you think: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/threads/78326-Blaha-s-Novice-modified-for-herniated-disc?p=1019553#post1019553
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 13:18
Amr Adel
Just started this workout today .. thanks for providing this quality for free :D
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 16:43
Bri Sol
Live and die by this workout. Based Jason changed my life.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 18:39
I have some scoliosis. Can I still squat and deadlift?? I am pretty skinny and weak, but I need to become stronger(muscles) specially for figthing scoliosis.
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 21:28
Arabian O
Am I right in saying 5x5 is not including early up sets. What do you guys do for the warmup sets?
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Posted Fri, 10/11/2013 - 21:32
l was wondering if it would take a while for my arms to grow due to neural adaptation, my arms don't seem to growing although they are getting stronger. (I've been on this program for about 2 months and my legs, chest, shoulders and back are growing expect my arms >.<)
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Posted Sat, 10/12/2013 - 03:18
This program is really great. The best strength gains I have ever had. Unfortunately I wasted a lot of time on the body part split which is not OPTIMAL. Switch to this and you will never look back.
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Posted Sat, 10/12/2013 - 11:01
Can i switch the bb shurg with rack pulls? I love doing rack pulls for traps.
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Posted Sat, 10/12/2013 - 18:23
David Laid
This program is the s***
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:00
I heard somewhere that a military press is not good for a novice because with weak back muscles, it's too much strain on the spine. Is there any truth to this?
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:31
Not true.. just dont go heavy that you have to heave the weight up and bend like a tree in the wind. Form is important.
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:21
Should one cycle to a different routine at some point?
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 13:41
As this plan can take approx 1:30, would it be suitable for a ectomorph as i have Understood they would need to keep their workouts short Thanks
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Posted Sat, 02/21/2015 - 11:27
Can i skip deadlift i dont know it .can i skip deadlift pls inform mee?????
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 13:54
I've atrophied terribly over recent months and lost most of my gains, so I've been looking to restart with a new beginner program and I see a lot of praise for this one. I broke my heel very seriously earlier this year and had to get metal implants for the bone. I'm still unable to walk without crutches but soon I will be and I want to get back to the gym as soon as possible. This looks like a good starting point. My question is, what exercises can I use to substitute lifts like squats and deadlifts? I know there is no REAL substitute but I absolutely cannot put pressure beyond my own body weight on my foot if I don't want to spend more time in a hospital. I can do seated versions of overhead press and use chest support for rows and I'm pretty sure it's not the end of the world if I do skullcrushers instead of tricep extensions, but will leg extensions, leg curls and more hyperextensions cut it for legs and lower back? It's not as good but it's not like I have a choice. Any workout suggestions by anyone who's had injuries?
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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 17:01
Hi I have trained for 3 months and switched to this program and I am 1 week done. So my question is I have added bent Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise, on A after all the compound movements and on B after CGBP is this acceptable? I am not sure if the bent over rows and military press activate the rear delts which are neglected. That's why I added it. And after every kneelings cable crunch I do 3x max leg raises. Is this acceptable? And before I start the workout I do 6 minutes of cycling and after a workout I do 5 minutes of random cardio. Is this acceptable? And finally is it allowed to do warm up sets for the compound movements like 2x5 (warming up) and 5x5 (what I should do) Thank you for reading and please answer these questions I am a beginner and I am making a lot of gainz but I don't wanna fuck up with making these adjustments.
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Posted Mon, 10/14/2013 - 08:09
All of that looks reasonable to me, including your choice of warmups. Carry on.