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
Beginner
3
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.

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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.

901 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 05/27/2016 - 05:53
Drake Smith

I worked out today with a friend and i cant seem to get proper form to safely dead lift or squat to to flexibility issues, any tricks or tips that may help?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 05/27/2016 - 10:07
MikeWines

Drake,
If you're still a newer lifter, then stick with sumo or trap bar deadlifts and goblet squats or front squats. Most won't (read: shouldn't) be able back squat and conventional deadlift on day 1.

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:45
Daniel

So far I've seen a ton of strength gain with this program. I am more than satisfied. However I do have an issue that has been occurring for a few weeks now. I've finally gotten somewhat heavy on my squats, to the point where my thighs are still fairly sore by the time I hit the next workout. I've been dealing with this by cutting about 10 pounds from the bar and continuing my progression the next workout. E.g. I did 180 pounds on Monday, 170 pounds this morning, and I'll do 185 on Friday. Am I doing this right?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 11:43
MikeWines

Daniel,
That's sounds like a pretty solid plan. You've essentially stumbled upon to Bill Starr's 5x5 programming (Look up Madcow's 5x5) by simple self experimentation. You could continue with your structure or look into his as his site provides quite a bit of guidance.

ICF is basically just the stronglifts 5x5 program with a few "bodybuilding exercises" tacked on so if you want to dig into more of the original programming then check out the sources I mentioned above. They're a much better resource given they designed the original program in its entirety.

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Posted Tue, 05/24/2016 - 12:48
MELVIN LONTOC

Hi,

I'm starting this tomorrow and as per video advised start 75% or 1RM for main lift and 65% the rest. Does this means that after warm up I will use the same weight for all set? Or should I do pyramid from set 1 to set 5?

Thanks in advance!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 11:28
MikeWines

Melvin,

You can do either option in my opinion. I would say stick with the same weight for all sets if you're just starting out. If you're more of an intermediate lifter than you could use the pyramid format.

Alot of the "it depends" answers will only be answered through personal experimentation. Do you tend to get beat up easily from training and you have a tough time recovering properly between each session (i.e. you have a low MRV) then you might do well with the pyramid format. However, other guys can smash 5x5's for 18 months straight without a single recovery issue. Highly variable...

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 13:19
MELVIN

Thanks for reply. I have another please. As per FAQ: "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."

This I get it right since in Squat its in both set:
Mon- set A -squat 170
Wed- set B -squat 170
Fri- set A -squat 170
Then next week:
Mon- set B -squat 170
Wed- set A -squat 175?
Fri- set B -squat 175?

Or

Mon- set A -squat 170
Wed- set B -squat 170
Fri- set A -squat 175?
Then next week:
Mon- set B -squat 175?
Wed- set A -squat 180?
Fri- set B -squat 180?

Thanks!

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Posted Thu, 05/26/2016 - 10:30
MikeWines

Those recommendations were only made for those in a caloric deficit. If you are in a deficit then the second progression scheme is correct.

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Posted Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:44
Wade Race

A very solid program by a very knowledgable man, but let me just say that the idea that you need to do back squats is bullcrap. I rotate trap bar deadlifts, landmine squats, and jumps/sprints and my legs are almost 29 inches around, and I don't juice. I rarely even use protein powders. The best exercises are the ones that give you results, no exercise is a one size fits all.

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 11:31
MikeWines

Wade,

"The best exercises are the ones that give you results, no exercise is a one size fits all."

ZING. ^This guy gets it. Don't fit the individual to the exercise, fit the exercise to the individual.

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Posted Sun, 05/22/2016 - 18:49
Jack

Right now I'm on summer break and was lifting during school but now I'm on break and have tons of free time and was wondering if I could do this program on a 6 day cycle because my plan is to get huge this summer so I can go in for all my sports (football, wrestling, baseball) stronger and bigger

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Posted Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:03
MikeWines

No, you will not be able to run this program 6 days per week once you progress past the beginner stage of training. Find a good training program which has you lifting 3-4 days per week, do some light conditioning 1-2 days per week (hike, bike, swim, row, etc.) and then rest and eat well. You're young so enjoy your summers and don't get caught up in the belief that you have to lift everyday but that's the easiest way to burn yourself out and spin your wheels.

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Posted Sat, 05/21/2016 - 18:15
Sam walton

I havent lifted weights for about a year, but before i stopped i was quite strong. Squat 345 deadlift 450 bench 210. But ive lost a lot of muscle and im out of shape. Would this be an ok program to start back up on or is it to advanced?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:03
MikeWines

Sam,
A simple linear progression model would be fine to start with.

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Posted Sat, 05/21/2016 - 12:16
Eoin

Hi, I'm finding the barbell rows really frustrating as I never know if my form is strict enough. Am I suppose to touch my rib cage or lower chest with the bar? When I start with a low weight I can touch my upper-abs/lower chest, but it seems every time I increase the weight by 5 pounds I can only touch my middle abs/rib cage and then when I I increase again I can only get it my lower abs. How high am I suppose to touch with the bar? And why does my form keep failing whenever I increase it?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:09
MikeWines

Eoin,
You should be rowing towards your belly button/bottom of your ribcage.

See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkEo5Thds10

Regarding your form, it could be a technique issue or it could just be a strength issue. Tough to say without seeing some video footage.

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 06:22
Alex

I have never had an injury before, I always warm up before working out and I use good form on my lifts. But today I was doing squats and snapped something in my glute.
I was doing a 5x5, on my warm up sets I actually felt very strong and went quite deep, but when I start my working set I snapped something. On the 4th rep I felt something in my glute and failed the rep. I had to leave to gym and felt it hard to walk or sit. The doctor said to just leave it alone for 1-2 weeks.
Should I just exclude the squats and deadlifts for the next 1-2 weeks or should I just them with light weight? Is there any other lower-body exercises I can do? I only feel pain when I bend /lower my hips. Should I do any stretching?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 10:34
MikeWines

Alex,

What do you typical do for a warmup? Also, "good form" is relative. If you can, take a video and upload it to YouTube.

In regards to rehabbing your injury, a doctor probably won't be able to give an actual diagnosis on what's going on. They're trained in the care and management of chronic and acute conditions (not musculoskeletal related usually). As is the case, I'd recommend you follow up with a physical therapist.

You should avoid movements which cause additional pain (squats/deadlifts included). Similarly, you need to approach stretching with the same sort of mindset - if it causes pain, avoid it.

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 13:05
Alex

I foam roll my body, I do dynamic stretches such as Leg Swings, Wall slides, shoulder pass through, bent knee iron cross, Lateral Squats and I also do warm up sets to my main lifts. I will be going to a chiropractor later this week. Hopefully that will sort it out, but thanks for the advice anyway.

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 15:09
MikeWines

Sounds like you're mostly on the right track. Give it some time off, work on some dynamic mobility work if possible and it doesn't cause pain, and if things still aren't improving, then it might be time to look into some other options which would need to be supplemented through a physical therapist.

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Posted Tue, 05/17/2016 - 11:12
Eoin

I'm a bit confused as to when I should increase squats. Because my working sets are already over 1.5xbw would it be to increase them every 2nd workout?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 09:59
MikeWines

Eoin,

If that's the case, you could realistically increase every other session. In fact, depending upon your numbers, it might be time to look into other programs as linear periodization isn't the best option after you get past the beginner stage.

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Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 14:34
Eoin

Definitely not near indeterminate yet as I'm only squatting 190 and dead-lifting 270, however I only weigh 125 (don't worry I'm bulking, I'm 17 and was only 105 less than 2 years ago).

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 15:07
MikeWines

Ah, if that's the case then disregard my previous comment about finding another program. This is a fine option, just progress at a slightly slower rate (increase every 2nd or 3rd session).

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Posted Sat, 05/14/2016 - 20:55
Reece

1) Is this good for gaining weight?

2) I'd rather do 4 days a week, rather than 3. Do you have a recommended 4 day routine? (E.g. Mon, Tue. Thur., Fri.)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/16/2016 - 10:31
MikeWines

Reece,
1) Gaining weight is determined by your nutrition, not your training.
2) If you want a 4 day split then look at some of the other content on the site, it wouldn't be wise to run this program for 4 days/week.

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Posted Fri, 05/13/2016 - 23:14
clentin

Can I add neck curls on off days since I do mma and its crucial or do it after workout thanx.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/16/2016 - 10:25
MikeWines

Clentin,
You could do them on off days or after your regular session as accessory work.

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Posted Fri, 05/13/2016 - 12:24
John

If I fail rows on workout A but complete them on workout B, do I de load both days or just workout B?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/16/2016 - 13:37
MikeWines

John,

If that's the case, just stick with the weight from workout B in workout A. Repeat until you can add reps or weight.

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Posted Mon, 05/16/2016 - 16:39
john

Thanks, but do I drop the weight in workout B by 10 percent as well?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 05/17/2016 - 10:24
MikeWines

Perhaps, depends on how recovered you're feeling. Growth and progress are never linear, be willing to be flexible.

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Posted Mon, 05/09/2016 - 20:16
Meredith

I'm as novice as it gets, and want to begin this program with my husband. We don't belong to a gym but want to buy the equipment mentioned. Can you give me a recommendation on exactly what to buy (brands of barbell, cables, ez bar, etc?).

Thank you!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 05/10/2016 - 11:11
MikeWines

Meredith,
I would personally recommend the folks at Sorinex (http://sorinex.com/) as I've met the owner and his son and can personally vouch for the excellent craftsmanship and integrity of the company. Everything is hand made in the USA and they're constantly striving to improve the strength and conditioning industry.

You could also look into the guys at EliteFTS (http://www.elitefts.com/) as they're top notch as well.

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Posted Tue, 05/10/2016 - 11:25
Meredith

Thanks!! I will check them both out!

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Posted Fri, 05/13/2016 - 10:14
Noah

Rogue Fitness sells entire home gyms. I would recommend them.

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Posted Fri, 05/06/2016 - 20:15
Mark

Why is this posted here still??? Jason Blaha has been outed as a racist who published articles online that support white supremacy. He is also a proven, psychological liar. I cannot believe that a "reputable" and "respectable" company like Muscle & Strength would even support this charlatan. This is disgusting and I wont' be offering any business to Muscle & Strength from now on.

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Posted Thu, 05/12/2016 - 12:10
kys

What kind of bs is this? Where's your proof of any of that? And why would I give a fuck about who the man is, i'm not going to be involved with him. Just using his program.

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Posted Fri, 05/06/2016 - 10:36
John

For someone who's main goal is to get a v taper would it be okay to swap shrugs for dumbbell pullovers? I ask this as my goal is an old school look (Leroy Colbert, Steve Reeves, Frank Zane), I heard that they would avoid direct trap work as it narrows the shoulders. Is this true? If so would pullovers be a good replacement to emphasize the v taper?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/09/2016 - 16:03
MikeWines

John,
You can if you wish as I feel pullovers are beneficial for many who are overextended that have issues with hypertonicity of the lats.

However, your statement regarding direct trap work sounds rather erroneous as that doesn't seem logical from an anatomical standpoint. If you're balancing upper trap work (responsible for elevation and also assist in the upward rotation force couple), you would simply need to offset that with other counter movements that focus on downward rotation and depression (e.g. pull/chinups, pullovers, etc.)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 05/13/2016 - 11:31
MikeWines

Why do you want to replace them?

I prefer facepulls as I think most folks would benefit from more horizontal rowing work.

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Posted Fri, 05/13/2016 - 04:22
John

Thanks for the reply, would it be better to replace shrugs with reardelt work (lateral raises or facepulls) or lat work (pull ups or pullovers)?

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Posted Thu, 05/05/2016 - 18:55
kevin

What can i do to improve my recovery from workouts.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 05/09/2016 - 10:47
MikeWines

Kevin,
That's a very broad question that requires some context:
1. Are you in a calorie surplus or deficit? Being in a surplus will help to improve the amount of training volume you can handle due to having more substrate on board. If cutting, you can't manipulate food intake too much so you must alter training volume instead.
2. Are you getting at LEAST 8 hours of sleep every night (more may be necessary depending upon age and lifestyle demands)?
3. How's your sleep hygiene? Can you wake up naturally without an alarm clock?
4. Are you consuming 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight?
5. Do you take naps frequently?
6. Do you eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables?
7. Do you utilize any forms of soft tissue therapy? Foam rolling/massage/etc.?

^If you can answer "yes" to all those questions then you've got a pretty solid grasp on recovery and we'll need to dig deeper but for most folks, they need to focus on the basics.

Nothing is going to help you recover you faster than sleep. However, that is all about quantity AND quality. Read this (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/hacking-sleep-9-tips) and get off your phone before you go to sleep.

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Posted Sat, 04/30/2016 - 04:27
Eric

1. Can I add pullups or chinups to the program?
2. I already have a pretty big chest. It just looks ridiculous next to my tiny arms. Can I replace bench press with extra close grip bench press because I really don't want to grow my chest a lot.
3. Are leg raises a good replacement for cable crunches?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 05/03/2016 - 10:49
MikeWines

Eric,
1. Sure, but you need to take something else away. I've answered this question before, scroll through the rest of the questions on the page.
2. Sure.
3. They are one replacement, yes. But you need to be working a variety of other components of abdominal work as the abs are responsible for far more than just spinal flexion.

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Posted Tue, 04/26/2016 - 23:40
Samuel Meman

How should i progress my squat when cutting?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:57
MikeWines

That depends on alot of factors - training experience, overall volume, relative intensity, individual recovery capability, lifestyle (sleep+nutrition), supplementation, etc.

If you're a novice who is recovering well then you might be able to increase once ever 3 or 4 workouts. If not, then it's tougher to make specific recommendations.

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Posted Wed, 04/27/2016 - 20:20
Samuel Meman

well i'm 15 I've been training for 3 months and have loaded 50kg on my squat and this is my first program, i originally loaded 2.5kg every session but have recently hit a wall because of my cut. should i be progressing every second session? And am i allowed to change the rep scheme to 5x3 because of form issues on the 4th and 5th rep

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 04/28/2016 - 09:22
MikeWines

Samuel,
Why are you cutting at age 15? That sounds like a recipe for disaster unless there is a significant weight issue as you're going to be messing with a variety of growth factors at your age.