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.

1.1K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2016 - 10:07
Justin S

How would you keep your macros if your looking to cut bad weigjt ?

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2016 - 00:13
Ryan Soranno

I have been running a reverse pyramid program while being a beginner. Unfortunately, I was cutting bodyfat so I wasn't able to make as many muscle gains. Now that i have been working out for a little more than a year, will the 5x5 be good for me?
Here are my max lifts for the program I was on previously (not 5x5)
Incline Dumbell press: 60 lb 10 reps
sumo deadlift: 185 lb 5 reps
Didn't squat for past few months, but definitely in the mid 100s

Thanks for your help!

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Posted Sat, 10/22/2016 - 06:54
Justin S

How would you do your macros . I'm looking to cut bad weight and tone up right now I'm about 40 fat 40 protien 20-15 carbs

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2016 - 13:22

Hey! Been following this plan for a few months and i am progressing pretty good. My question is, ive been deadlifting 1 lift x5 all the way at my max rep. My back and core are pretty strong tho. And i can add weight after some workouts. I feel no pain or anything being damaged. Every lift is clean and feels amazing. I just need some thoughts on this.

Also for abb workout i am doing high angeled crunches x3 to failure, ripps pretty good. Is this ok or should i should by any means do cable crunches?

Bench and standing press are at a staling point where i cant increase the weight for some time now, so ive been doing x2 supersets with lighter weights to just totally empty my muscles, same for bicep and tricep. I kinda feel i need to do this to burn all my muscles.

Gonna follow this for a year, seeing great increase and progress after about 3 months and cant wait to progress more. Awesome plan, love it!!! Answers to this post is muuuch appreciated. =))

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Posted Tue, 10/18/2016 - 23:12

I have been told that doing a dumbell bench press is more effective than the barbell bench, when working the pecs. Is it ok to do a dumbell bench rather than a barbell for more focus and better ROM?

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Posted Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:19


Sure you can make the swap. Although, I wouldn't exactly name one better than the other, both have their pros and cons.

While dumbbell bench allows for a greater range of motion, it also requires more shoulder stability forcing you into using lighter weight than you may have with regular bench.

Traditional bench press on the other hand forces your shoulders into a fixed position. The fixed position will allow you to push more weight than you would with a dumbbell press, but can aggravate the shoulder joint (especially if you have prior injury history).

In short, absolutely feel free to swap one out for the other, but remember each has it's own benefit.

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Posted Mon, 10/17/2016 - 20:35

Im an ectomorph, trying to gain weight.
Some suggest that I only need 45mins to workout.
does it work for an ectomorph?
Can i do it 3×8 instead of 5x5 to decrease the workout time?

Thank you and i will appreciate your respond.

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:26

Please forgive if you answered this. I listened twice and didn't hear it. As a super novice, knowing absolutely nothing, do you do all sets of the same exercise and then move to the next exercise or do I set of each? Also, any general advice about gym etiquette (I don't want to be lurking but I've got to get it done and get out).

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:28


Do all of the sets of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 09/30/2016 - 21:55

Are super squats an acceptable replacement for squats?

Is an xplod mid row acceptable replacement for rows?

I love this routine but herniated my L5 disc 18 months ago. After a year of physio I went back for an MRI and it's still fully herniated. I'm fine with all the other lifts but need squat and row replacements.

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Posted Mon, 09/26/2016 - 22:29

Hi, I think I'm stressing my back a little more than it should be. Does excluding hyper extensions would help ?

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Posted Sun, 09/25/2016 - 15:36
Tim giling

How does it work with the progression?
For example is it like this;
monday: 100 LBS
wensday: 100 LBS
Friday: 100 LBS

Monday: 105 LBS

Is it progressing every week or every workout?

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Posted Mon, 09/26/2016 - 09:23


Aim to progress by 5lbs every week.

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Posted Thu, 09/22/2016 - 22:57

Can I do this:
Monday - A
Tuesday - B
Wednesday - A
Thursday - B
Friday - A

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Posted Fri, 09/23/2016 - 09:22


I wouldn't. You work the same muscles for both workouts in this split. Not giving yourself time to recover from the heavy 5x5 lifts in workouts A & B won't be conducive to building strength or muscle as recovering from your workouts is key to muscle development.

If you're looking to workout more than 3 times in a week, I'd consider checking out a 4 or 5 day split. The two below are a couple of our more popular programs. Check them out:



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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 08:13

Can i do smith machine overhead shoulder press, instead of standing press?

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 09:16

Hi JR,

You could, but it'll be more beneficial for you to do the standing press. If you switch them for the smith machine, you'll likely have to do them sitting down. This, along with the fact that the smith machine provides a fixed plane of motion, will eliminate all the stress to the core and other synergistic muscles trying to stabilize the weight used.

If your goal is ultimately to build better strength, then do not make this switch.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 09:56

Thanks Josh. My back is being stressed after a workout. Is that normal or my form is not right in some of the exercises. I feel sore even after a whole day of rest. Please note that this is just my second week of this routine.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:46

It's tough to say. Muscle soreness would be a normal response, especially considering that you are fairly new to the program and the first workout consists of squat, bent over row, and hyerpextensions, all of which will impact the back muscles either directly or indirectly.

It's pretty normal to feel sore days after a workout, especially if you're not in superb conditioning.

Although, if you're not experiencing muscle soreness and it's more along the lines of pain/feels as though there is nerve or structural damage, you may be performing the lifts with incorrect form. This is something you'd want to seek professional help to correct.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:53

Thanks so much for replying Josh.

Also can you please tell me if this is the correct workout routine for me or should i do something more.
I'm 6 foot almost 145 lb weight with 23-25% body fat. Should i follow this routine or should i do something additionally. I've started working out just a month ago. I feel like all my body fat is in my belly. How do i take care of that apart from strict diet.
Thanks again.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:08

You're welcome, JR. It really depends on your long term goals. Since you're just starting out, you'll find it will be easy to burn off that body fat and build muscle. This'll likely continue for well over a year if you're persistent and lock down the diet aspect of fitness.

This program is a beginner program. From the sounds of things, you're reacting as any beginner would. I'd recommend sticking with this program until you feel as though it's too easy (You're moving up in weight every week and not experiencing the soreness mentioned in your prior question). At that point, it might be time to pursue a more challenging program or add in other forms of training like cardio.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:23

Thanks a lot Josh.
Right now my goal is to reduce fat and build a little bit of muscle. Looks like this program does both. So i'll continue with this routine for now. Thanks for patiently replying back to my questions.

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Posted Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:35
Anonymous user

Also what weights should i start with. You recommend starting with the bar, but thats too easy. Should decrease my weights to allow for linear progression? How much should i decrease them by? When i squat, will i become sore, or no, because if so, how could squat 3 times per week?

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Posted Mon, 09/19/2016 - 04:57
Anonymous user

1.) I'm assuming this is basically the same as the Stronglifts 5x5 workout, except looking at the exercises, it seems to be longer with more 'minor' exercises like hyperextensions etc, unlike major exercises like squats. Is this all necessary, like the hyperextensions and cable crunches, if I am doing all the major exercises like squats.
I have about 1.4 years experience lifting, but only 7 months taken seriously. Still pretty weak
-squat 225 lbs for 3
deadlift 1rm 286 lbs
bench 165 lbs 1rm (Weakest)
I want to build muscle mainly, but obviously understand need to build strength. Is this the right program for me for strength/muscle gains. How much expected gains (strength) in 6 months, say??
Thanks for reply

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Posted Mon, 09/19/2016 - 15:47
Random Advisor

'Necessary' needs context; necessary for OPTIMAL, again, OPTIMAL hypertrophy? Yes. Necessary for hypertrophy, period? No. You can do just the 5x5 lifts and gain muscle, but doing the accessories will increase the amount of muscle you will build. Also, outside of hypertrophy, there IS carry over from the accessories to the 5x5's: eliminating tricep accessories will run the risk of damaging your bench press progress; eliminating cable crunches runs the risk of not strengthening your core enough for all the 5x5 lifts.
Yes, for your situation, this couldn't be a better program for you.

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Posted Wed, 09/14/2016 - 15:40

Am I supposed to lift the same weight on the 5x5's ? Because im finding it really hard to progress if I'm lifting the same added weight on all 5 sets. I have no problem progressing in the first set, but the rest sets are realy though to get . Any help is apreciated!

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Posted Mon, 09/19/2016 - 15:55
Random Advisor


Are you actually getting 5 reps for 5 sets? It is meant to be hard, if you are getting 5 reps for 5 sets, there is no problem, again, it is supposed to be hard. However, if it is too hard that you cannot get 5 reps for 5 sets, maybe you are not taking long enough rest times; 3-5 minutes are recommended for the 5x5 lifts, perhaps you should extend to 6 or 7 minutes if you have to. Are you fatiguing? Revise your diet; a possible increase in calories and/or carbs and/or micronutrients might be needed, or perhaps a pre workout supplement would benefit you. All else fails? Then try a deload; any acclaimed deload you can find online will do.

Best wishes.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2016 - 00:58

I might be reading the original comment wrong but it sounds to me as if you're adding weight on each set. If so; no wonder you are struggling, you should be progressing in weight linearly each workout, not each set.

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Posted Thu, 09/08/2016 - 09:08
A guy with a qu...

Hello there. I am getting stale of bent over rows. My back is pretty well developed in relation to my other muscles, and factoring in the time I have been training. Is it ok/a good idea to switch to a 5x5 chinup instead, for both workout A and B, and achieve progressive overload on that exercise? I think this is also a good switch because it will also help bring up my lagging biceps. If it's a bad/not optimal choice, just say so, and I will stick with the rows, as I value intelligent training over 'enjoyable' training (Even though I 'enjoy' training).

Many thank-yous.

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Posted Mon, 09/19/2016 - 15:57
Random Advisor

I would normally suggest a strict conformity to the program but this sounds like an intelligent rearrangement. I say go ahead and best of luck.

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 18:31

So I'm doing the cutting version of this workout in an effort to lose fat. I'm 6'3 300 pounds and I believe my caloric intake should be around 2,900 to maintain weight. I'm trying to eat at a 500 calorie deficit, but to be honest I'm having a hard time eating enough calories. I'm always worried I'm over eating, but I'm definitely not eating enough. Its causing me to not recover fast enough and probably hindering my results. Does anyone have any tips? Or know of someone/a place I could look into for help with a diet plan that'll get my calories up in a healthy way? Thanks.

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Posted Thu, 09/08/2016 - 09:19
Random Advisor

This isn't a plug but I believe Brandon Carter sells meal plans. He has been a trainer for over 15 years, I am a huge fan, and I am sure he can sort you out a meal plan. Go to his youtube page, and his website will probably sell meal plans.

Best of luck.

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Posted Tue, 09/06/2016 - 09:30

Sir can i add some tricep extensions calfraises forearm and some upper chest work to it??

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:49
Random Advisor

ONLY if they are lagging after at least 6 months of training! I know I know, I don't blame you for wanting to add all this volume, it shows you are ready to put in the work, but it would be extremely wise to stick to the program as it's written. If you're triceps are lagging after 6 months, add more tricep volume, same for calves, forearms, upper chest, etc. It is really unlikely your triceps, calves, forearms, AND upper chest will lag after 6+ months of training.

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 15:25

M doing workout since a year looking to gain some more strength will it be good to go

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Posted Mon, 09/05/2016 - 22:22
Brooke Pittman

HI! I have been looking at this workout. I am 39 yrs old and weigh 148lbs. I turn 40 next August. My goal is to look as good (or better) than JLo by the time I am 40. I have lifted weights on and off for years. This time I am determined to be committed! My question is, will this make me bulky? I want to be lean. What do you recommend? THANK YOU!

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:43
Random Advisor

This is a mass building program. With that said, as you know, women have a LOT less Testosterone than men. Therefore it is a LOT harder for women to build muscle. What body do you want? What are your goals? With reference to JLo, I assume you want an overall lean body, a big butt, nice legs, and 'toned' upper body. If this is your goal, this IS a good program for that, but not the BEST. This is why: the only muscles women generally want to build, are glutes, hamstrings, quads, and back. Leg muscles for thickness, glutes for butt, and a wide back makes your waist looks smaller. So although women have a harder time than men building muscle, women have a lot fewer muscles to train.

However, if you're looking to lose weight while toning your body, this program IS your best bet, because this 5x5 is really stressing on your whole body, and you will burn a LOT of calories.

Summary: If you're looking to lose weight while toning your body, YES, do this program. If you're at the drawing board simply looking to put on some mass, this is a good program but not the best, and perhaps you should look into a a glute hypertrophy type program from somebody like Robin Gallant.

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Posted Mon, 09/05/2016 - 16:04

Where is the ice cream?

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:43
Random Advisor

in your belly on cheat days ;)

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Posted Sat, 09/03/2016 - 12:31
Tim giling

I have a few quastions,

1. Can i at on workout B also bencht press's, so my chest wil be develop faster.

2. Can I throw more bicep and tricep exercises in it? Like some cable push down or incline db curls and also standing curls. I really like big arms.

3. And last question. Why not cable flyes for upper and lower chest? Or incline and dicline bench press's

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:29
Random Advisor

1) How long have you been training? If you've been training 6 months or more and your chest is lagging, then yes add more chest volume. I would suggest either 3x8 incline DB press or 3x8 chest dips (you will probably have to add weight on chest dips)

2) You will probably ignore this, which is fine, this isn't a dictatorship, but I strongly recommend to NOT increase arm volume right away. Unless your arms are LAGGING, not just SMALL, but if they are REALLY disproportionate to the rest of your muscles, only then can you add more volume. If you've been training for 5 months or less and your arms aren't growing, add a dropset to every set of every bicep and tricep exercise. If you've been training for 6 months or more and your arms aren't growing, add 1 or 2 more exercises for both bicep and tricep.

3) Why not cable flyes? Because this is a mass building program. Once you're more advanced, you can start doing all those sexy isolation exercises, right now, (I presume) you're a beginner, your whole body is small, you don't need to worry about 'upper chest' 'lower chest' etc. With all that said, throw in some cable flyes if you really want to, but you're just short changing yourself / wasting your time.

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Posted Fri, 09/02/2016 - 19:36

Hello, In my gym we don't have microplates, all we have is a minimum of 5.5 lbs plates, how can increase the intensity in my program ?

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Posted Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:13
Random Advisor

1) Buy some microplates and/or 2x 2.5lbs plates and keep them in your gym bag (They will be light enough) just tell your gym manager beforehand so he doesn't think you're stealing stuff if he sees you put them back in your bag when you're done.

2) Weigh your clips on a scale, and just add the required amount of clips on the barbell; it should take like 3 extra clips either side for 5 extra lbs.

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Posted Fri, 09/02/2016 - 06:57

I didn't understand How progression should be.
To make an example Should i progress in squat every workout or every other workout?
Workout A 200 lbs Workout B 205 lbs Workout A 210 lbs


Workout A 200 lbs Workout B 200 lbs Workout A 205 lbs?

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Posted Fri, 09/02/2016 - 14:39


Try to progress every week by 5lbs, not every workout. If your progress stalls, lower the weight by 10% and continue trying to progress weekly until you stall again.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 09/03/2016 - 12:17

I'm pretty sure that's not How it is supposed to work. This way u would increase the weight once every three squat session and it seems not enough to me

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Posted Tue, 09/06/2016 - 09:32


Under the subheader "How Should I Lift When Cutting", it states "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."

Honestly, I'd recommend aiming for this margin of improvement. It will keep you on a steady and realistic pace. If you are new to weight lifting, you may be able to progress faster than that. However, at some point strength gains are not going to jump 10lbs every week.

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Posted Mon, 09/05/2016 - 23:23

Unless I've been doing it wrong, the first option in your example is the way it should be done. For the 5x5 lifts you should be increasing by 15lbs a week. Sounds crazy but it definitely worked for me.

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Posted Tue, 08/30/2016 - 05:40

I've been doing Icf 5x5 for the past 3-4 months but I've come to the conclusion that I can barely handle the volume. My workouts are getting too long, I'm plateauing very often and I have injured my hips and left shoulder. I was thinking of switching the shrugs, skull crushers and chins for dumbbell pullovers on workout A and switching the rows, close grip bench and curls for weighted chins on workout B. Do you think this would be okay? Would I lose any size by lowering the volume?

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Posted Tue, 08/30/2016 - 13:05
Random Advisor

"Would I lose any size by lowering the volume" Bluntly put, yes. By taking out the CGBP you will not be effectively building your triceps, and therefore your bench press is likely to suffer. Weighted chinups are a good exercise but there comes to a point were your biceps will not grow from them anymore. By not doing shrugs, you run the risk of having small traps - and developed traps are useful for squats (Bar positioning). Think about it: If you COULD get the same results doing 1 latter exercise instead of 3, don't you think Jason Blaha would've written it that way? Why add unnecessary volume? Answer: the volume IS in-fact necessary.

With all that said, I watched a video by Jason Blaha in which Blaha says something along the lines of "You can take out the skullcrushers and get the same results, I only added them in there to impress the 'bros' with the exercise choice to make more people do the program."

And my final advice would be that if you literally don't have the time due to work, school, or other constraints, then yes, do what you must to get the workout in. However if it's just a case of you not wanting to put in the work, perhaps you should look into pre workouts, or upping your calorie intake and carb intake, and make sure you're getting the right amount of sleep and micronutrients.