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.

468 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:35

Hi. Do you think it is helpful to do HIIT alongside this (on rest days) for fat loss/toning while also building strength? the main thing I would be concerned about is whether or not that gives enough opportunity for legs to rest after squats. Thanks!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/31/2015 - 09:31

HIIT is rather taxing on both your CNS and musculoskeletal system so it may being to influence your recovery capabilities. As such, it may be better to utilize LISS or other non weight bearing modalities. Let your diet dictate your body composition, it takes alot of exercise to "outwork" unstructured nutrition.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 20:43

Does this program get good results for CUTTING? Or was the cutting version an afterthought? I ask, because every progress/review blog using ICF has only shown those BULKING and NOT cutting.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:25

Any program can get good results but it depends upon if that program is right for the individual. Cookie cutter programs work well for beginners as they take most of the thinking involved out of the equation and teach proper progression but above and beyond that, there's a level of individuality that should be applied to everyone's programming depending upon their goal, training experience, age, gender, injury history, sport specific requirements, asymmetries, etc.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:17

I've been lifting for one and a half years now, but started very slowly due to the fact that I began lifting at the age of 16 and I was still growing a lot and didn't want to stunch my groth. I'm 17 now and because I was so overly careful I'm not nearly as strong as I could already be. My weight is about 170 lbs and I bench about 180 just to give you an idea. Also I can only squat 190 because of that. So I guess the programm would fit me very nicely, wouldn't it?
Also I was wondering If I could do something like
4×8 or 5×8 with Squats and bench press and get a similar result ( I don't want to do very low rep ranges with pressing moves because of the reason mentioned above)
Thank you very much.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 23:32

If I understand, you're worried to do lower reps because you don't want to stunt your growth - That is a myth. Being younger and with a less experienced body that's full of hormones, now is the best time to lift heavy. You will never make better gains than now. And don't be afraid to eat. Good luck.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 13:38

Sorry...and is it ok to do 1/2 squats until you build up to full range of motion (hips paralleled to knees or deeper)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 09:11

It's tough to make a blanket recommendation upon that because it might be due to a mobility or a stability issue. Therefore, unless I saw someone squat or had the chance to assess them then it's tough to determine what's really going on. I would recommend you start with front squats or box squats as both will allow you to hit proper depth and engrain the proper squat pattern. I'm partial to front squats if you have the mobility to achieve proper positioning.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 12:37

Is it possible to do sumo or wide legged squats for those with knee issues ( FYI I be tried box squats - still bothering my knees, however sumo/wide legged don't cause me any issues)? Will results be the same ? And what depth (how low) should we aim for - I have watched tons on form videos and seen some go 90 degrees and some at 45 what's the ideal range of motion - and is this suitable for beginners - thanks!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:26

I would strongly recommend you start incorporating some foam rolling with a few of the examples from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjKGGHCl0L4&list=PL7XNGdouGomSQCZWqNVFUt...

When squatting, you should always aim for 90 degrees if possible. Everyone's squat depth will vary based upon anatomical differences (angle of inclination at the femur, shape of the acetabulum, muscular insertions, rotation of the femur, etc.) but for the most part, if there's no pain and someone can access that range of motion without weight, then they need to be using it within the squat pattern.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:27

I'm a complete beginner, is this a good workout for increasing strength for sports, primarily basketball?

When you talk about adding weights do you mean between sets, or the next time you go to the gym increase the weight?

Also, a more general question; I've seen the word "progress" being used a lot in relation to working out. What exactly does it mean? Is it to do with adding on weights as you talk about?

FInally, what warm-ups and stretches do you recommend.

Thanks for such an in depth guide.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:27

I would recommend something more along these lines: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/basketball-performance-workou...

I designed that workout specifically for basketball and think it would fit your needs well.

When the author mentions progress, they are primarily referring to more weight on the bar. However, this "progress" can occur in a variety of fashions including (but not limited to): weight, sets, reps, range of motion, technique, or tempo.

For a dynamic warmup, you could start here with a few of the different exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaXt4JBo08s&list=PL7XNGdouGomSOPd1lGLsDc...

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 14:02

Can I incorporate a spin class or two a week with this program or will that hinder my progress? I recently discovered how much I enjoy the classes, but my overall goal is to drop 10 lbs and build muscle.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/21/2015 - 09:10

Sure, if you enjoy spinning then you should definitely keep it in your routine. Your strength progress might be a little slower depending upon the intensity and duration of the class but that's not a guarantee, just try it and find out. But, at the end of the day, if you enjoy it, you stick with it and just modify your routine as needed.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 07/19/2015 - 10:35

If I were to do a full body workout, how do I warm up? Meaning go on the treadmill possibly 10mins then start light, then progress with higher weights with every set? Btw 5 working sets for the big muscle groups or...???? Sorry I am still new to this.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 11:18

The warmup depends entirely on the person and their asymmetries or individual limitations. For example, if you're sitting at a desk all day and your hips are tighter than a steel drum then it would behoove you to work on them specifically.

We have a short article on warming up: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/guide-warmups-foam-rolling-pr...

But if you're looking for a few more detailed examples in video format, I have a number on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaXt4JBo08s&list=PL7XNGdouGomSOPd1lGLsDc...

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 13:10

What equipment do I need to do this program at home - I am a mom (35) of 3 small children and on a strict budget I have managed to start the program (2 days in) with what I have which is a basic barbell set that goes to 100lbs ( ok for now - since I can only lift 30-40lbs) and your standard bench. Is there anything else I could get that's economical and useful? Thanks in advance.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:40

That's a great start, way to keep your health a priority. You may want to invest in some dumbbells in the long run if you plan to build your home gym.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:56

Be careful with doing too much HIIT as it can limit your strength progression. I would make sure that one day is low intensity based and probably perform HIIT on saturday if you're working out on M, W, and F in order to give yourself a little more rest. Just be aware that squatting 3 times per week will likely catch up to your quickly if you're adding 5lbs per workout in a linear fashion so you may have to drop the HIIT volume significantly to 6-8 intervals (or something along those lines) rather than doing 20-25 minutes.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 18:04

Thanks for getting back to me - I actually forgot to mention I do have Dumbbells - but I'll have to get ++ plates to progress - so is it ok that I am starting 30-40lbs? Do I just follow the program and +5lbs every workout ( provided I can get through every set and/or unloading where applicable)? Also, is it ok to do 2x days of HIIT treadmill/cardio @ 20-25 min on my off days? I am 5'8 195lbs @ 1600 cal/day mfp - trying to lose 60Lbs + over the next several months while gaining strength- Thanks in advance - great site!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 12:43

I'm wondering if this would be a good routine for me. I already have a lot of experience lifting, but only seriously for under a year. My bench is 225 but my squat and deadlift are much lower because a broke my leg 4 months ago and I'm just stating to get back into those lifts. Would this be a good program for me if I adjust all weights to what I normally can do?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:34

If I was writing your programming I would include more single leg work given your coming back from a break. This program COULD work but if would need to be modified slightly in my opinion.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:47

Sure, I think it's a great start for anyone if they enjoy it.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 07/18/2015 - 00:08

Thanks Mike!
If we forget about my leg completely for a moment, would this program be alright for me? Because I know it is for beginners, so I'm wondering if increasing all of the weights would be fine.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 15:52

Hi, thanks for this routine I love it.

I just have a question regarding deadlifts, why only one set instead of 5x5 like the rest of the big lifts? Thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/15/2015 - 09:31

Deadlifts are more neurologically taxing and if you're trying to linearly progress them the volume must be reduced.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 02:40

My gym doesn't have the hyperextension thing shown in the video above so what alternative can I do? And I'm new to cgbp so do you have any tips? Thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/15/2015 - 09:35

Instead of hypers, incorporate glute bridge or hip thrust variations.

For CGBP, here's a few things to keep in mind:
1. Experiment with elbow position - don't get too wide or too narrow.
2. Hands should be roughly shoulder width or slightly narrower.
3. Don't allow your shoulders to dip forward in the socket, make sure you maintain your arch in the thoracic spine.
4. If you stay just short of lockout, it will help to maintain tension on the triceps.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/13/2015 - 18:49

Hi. I have one concern: I've had a shoulder dislocation a year ago, and even though I'm recovered the chance for it to happen a 2nd time is really high. Is it ok to replace some of the free wight exercises with machines? Specially the bench press and the standing press.
Also, I've always done split routines, never full body, so I don't know this: should I train to failure? I've read in some places that I should not. But then, how hard should I train?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 10:22

It's tough to make specific recommendations regarding to flat bench or standing press but if you're uncertain about an exercise then I would definitely substituting. You could easily add in some DB floor press (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia18UCLX6is) and landmine presses (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ArzG9qz-yM) which will help to reduce the potential for excessive stress upon the anterior portion of the shoulder capsule.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/13/2015 - 18:23

DO i need to count calories?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 09:39

You need to establish a baseline for your caloric intake if you want to ensure consistent progress in the long run. After a while you will be able to monitor your caloric intake without a scale, myfitness, or any sort of calculations just based upon your experience with counting and weighing food on a daily basis. You'll be able to estimate portions just by looking at them or using your hand as a guide. It's essentially the equivalent of developing a skill set, just like anything else in life.

Do you care about staying lean? No? Then crush 4-5 huge meals per day and perhaps a shake as well. Consume whatever you want, whenever you want, and lift hard. In the end, this is the strategy that most powerlifters take as they just go on a 'see food' diet - i.e. see food. eat said food. repeat ad nauseam.

If you have a habit of chronically under eating (e.g. your body weight isn't increasing) then you need to be more cognizant of your caloric intake as most "hardgainers" have a habit of under eating despite the fact that they think they "eat so much and are always SO full."

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/13/2015 - 15:30

Hey Mike, I'm a noob and just started hitting the gym and a trainer told me that incorporating incline bench presses + dips would be good for developing pecs.

Should I swap out any of the stuff for incline press + dips or simply add them to the routine somehow?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/14/2015 - 10:01

You could sub in incline bench for flat bench and dips for close grip bench press. I would recommend just running the program as is but either setup could work. Incline and dips would the pecs in a slightly different fashion than flat bench and CGBP but one is not superior to another unless it's simply based on personal preference.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/13/2015 - 04:33

I've made a Word document of the program in case anyone would like something printable. See it at:


Let me know if there are any improvements that could be made. Hope this is helpful.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 07/12/2015 - 20:29

Do you some sort of tracking sheet that shows the weights we should use for each day / week and the progression of the increase in weights?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 07/13/2015 - 10:13

At the moment, no. However, I may speak to a few other folks here in-house at M&S to see if we can come up with something.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/09/2015 - 19:15

Hey, I have a question about this workout. I am doing it for 2 months now, and noticed by arms are too big for the size of my chest (it looks strange now). So I want to train chest more. Can I get any recommendations?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/06/2015 - 19:16

My friend recommended a 5x5 to me. I am planning on starting it this evening. But am taking a week off for vacation. Then I plan to change to a GVT cycle. Should I start this 5x5...or am I just wasting my time if I plan to change to a different type of training within 2 weeks?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:47

I've been doing for 1 month now and my progression is great. I really need to train my cardio, because I'm soccer and hockey player(just started back after 2 years of doing nothing) and my cardio is really bad. I was thinking of doing couch to 5k(three times a week , walk run exercise). Do you think it would be too much and would slow my progressions ? If yes, what would your recommend ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:17

Where do the lats come into this program is it on bent over row? Can I add additional lat exercises?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/10/2015 - 20:10

You can do chinups instead of curls.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/06/2015 - 02:05

Can i change deadlift for somthing else?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/03/2015 - 04:21

If the rest between 5x5 sets is 3-5 minutes and between 3*8 sets is 1-2 minutes, then how is one supposed to do the entire program in 1.5 hours?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 06/30/2015 - 19:35

Does this workout include legs day, or do the compound movements count for it?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:14

There is no leg day, just the two workouts which are completely in a 1 ON/1 OFF fashion.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/24/2015 - 17:17
Ben L

Hey Mike,
Question, I have decided to switch to your program and per request have watched all the executions of the stated exercises. But seeing how I'm coming from a SL viewpoint my question is can I do Pendlay rows instead of the type of row that is in the video ? Thanks.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 06/25/2015 - 09:29

Yeah sure, that'd be fine. Pendlay rows may be more beneficial under certain circumstances.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:26
Kolten Pilar

In which circumstances would it be more beneficial? I am also coming from SL and always had people telling me to not hit the floor each time. I was doing around 205 5x5 at the time though and nobody else was doing that, let alone bent over rows in general!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/19/2015 - 15:12
Adam Rand

My gym doesn't have a squat rack. I've looked up ways to do squats without a rack while using a bar, but after trying and failing I just don't think it's possible. The closest thing I could do was goblet squats but the dumbbells go up to 45 pounds only which really isn't all that much for me. Is there another way I should approach squats?