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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421 Comments+ Post Comment

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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
MikeWines

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

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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!

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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?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/22/2015 - 10:06
MikeWines

Adam,
You could utilize goblet squats and that would be an excellent substitution. However, if they only go up to 45 pounds and that's relatively easy, then you could easily implement a few intensity techniques to increase the difficulty:
1. Add a pause at the bottom of the movement.
2. Use a slow eccentric (lowering portion of the movement) of 3-5 seconds or longer.
3. Incorporate 1.5 repetitions - all the way down, half way up, all the way back down, all the way up = 1 rep.

There's a million and 1 ways to makes things more difficult but those are a few that should get you started.

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Posted Thu, 06/18/2015 - 17:26
Tim

First off, I really appreciate you sharing your workout. It was all explained in more detail than necessary and I am very comfortable to start this off.

I'm curious to know if it would really be terrible to do cardio. I'm on the college team and I need something to keep my cardio capacity up.

I'm also curious on how much rest time to take between the exercises themselves? Is it still 3-5 mins/1-2 mins?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 06/19/2015 - 09:45
MikeWines

Tim,
Cardiovascular work is beneficial for a variety of reasons and should never be dropped completely due to its influence on mitochondrial density, balancing neurotransmitters, and influencing brain plasticity. Not to mention if you're playing a sport that requires a greater aerobic base then you should be incorporating some conditioning to function at your highest level.

For rest times the author recommends "break times between sets are 3-5 minutes for the 5x5 sets and 1-2 minutes for the 3x8 sets."

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Posted Wed, 06/17/2015 - 12:31
Rawlin

Hello, I have a question about if I should make any adjustment based on the fact that I have Poland's Syndrome and I'm missing my entire Right Pec Major. I still have my pec minor, but when testing my benching max I was only able to hit 40lbs. Is that okay to start working up from or should I make an adjustment?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 06/18/2015 - 09:26
MikeWines

Rawlin,
That's slightly out my scope of practice. You should consult with your doctor or physical therapist who has your full medical history in order to determine if weight training is safe.

If you have been cleared to lift, then by all means, go for it. I think this would be a great program to start with. However, you may find that it's slightly more advantageous to start with something like single arm dumbbell bench as this would allow for specific loading on each individual arm.

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Posted Wed, 06/17/2015 - 09:52
Ethan

I just started the program on Monday. My legs – particularly my quads – are still really sore. Am I expected to squat again today? Why does he have squats three times per week? That means I'll be squatting with sore legs consistently.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 06/18/2015 - 09:28
MikeWines

Ethan,
Yes. Your body will adapt to the stimulus within a week or two due to the repeated bout effect. As you continue to workout, the resulting soreness won't be nearly as bad and you'll get used to it. Higher frequency programs such as this one which have a specific movement 3 times per week will result in more soreness initially but you must stick with it if you want to reap the benefits of a more frequent stimulus.

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Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 23:18
wayne

I'm somewhat new to working out, this is by far my favorite workout program. Does anyone know if i can add a benchpress/chest set to workout b, why did he leave out chest on workout b? Also i read if i wanted to do more work, just look for another workout program, and we should stick to the way the workout is designed, 3 days a week only, but can i just add one other day for arms, i know it sounds dumb but i want that pump in my arms lol.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 06/16/2015 - 09:24
MikeWines

Wayne,
One day has horizontal pushing (bench) and the other day has vertical pushing (press). Each is important and has their own benefits so they both were included.

The program already has some arm work built in but if you wanted more, feel free to throw in an extra set of two but the average trainee doesn't need a day just dedicated to arms.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 06/25/2015 - 09:27
MikeWines

Wayne,
I would recommend you do both workouts as each has importance to your overall growth and development. If your gym is entirely against deadlifting (I'm sorry if that's the case) then I would personally be inclined to find a new gym. If that's not possible then consider implementing any of these deadlifting variations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CleNQoKSb0).

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Posted Wed, 06/24/2015 - 23:06
wayne

Thanks sooo much for the reply, im not doing an extra arm day, sometimes i might add extra set like you said. Another thing is, my gym doesn't have a platform, so i cant do deadlifts(they complain if i drop the bar, which i know i might, even by mistake), is there an alternative. Btw Can i just keep doing workout A, for each workout?- Thanks again, wayne

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Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 00:59
Kelton

I am excited to try this workout, 1 question can i alternate between doing flat bench press and incline bench press per session? to hit my chest at different angle or no?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 09:03
MikeWines

Kelton,
You can but just remember that it will be tougher to see progress in the short term given the variation in exercise choice. If you're diligent in writing things down and tracking your progress then perhaps that would be a good option for you.

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Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 11:22
Kelton

Thanks well I do have the jefit app and I found your workout on there so I use the app when I go to the gym. I have another question.

I'm a shift worker. So my shift changes daily so basically I have to squeeze in gym based on days I'm working and other activities. I know you are adamant about not changing the order or exercises. The issue is the times I go to gym some days are crowded. So it will be almost impossible to stick with the exercises or same order. In such a case. Is it OK to sub exercises or slightly change the order?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 15:30
MikeWines

Kelton,
Definitely my man. If it comes down to waiting around for machines or actually getting in a good lift with a few exercise variations then go with the second option.

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Posted Sun, 06/14/2015 - 14:07
Alexis

Sorry Jason, I see above that this workout is indeed suitable for females. Thanks again.

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Posted Sun, 06/14/2015 - 14:07
Alexis

I thoroughly enjoyed your straight forward and confident approach on this matter. I'm a 36 year old female (have 2 kids) and have had experience about 10 years ago with bodybuilding (body for life) - I lost 25 lbs at that time and am due to lose that 25 lbs again. Is this workout suffice for me? Thank you for your time. Much appreciated.

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 13:11
Ben Atkinson

When doing the 5x5 work out can I work out in the days in between, for example: Monday IC 5x5, Tuesday Chest Tricep, Wednesday IC 5x5, Thursday Shoulder back bicep etc...

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 09:04
MikeWines

Ben,
I would run the program as the author intended. If you want to do more then look into other programs which incorporate a higher frequency.

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 03:46
George

how much % of weight should i lift ? and is the weight stable or like pyramid style ?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 09:37
MikeWines

George,
I would start with 70-75% of your 1-RM. Now obviously you could increase that number if you were utilizing a pyramid scheme but for straight sets that's a solid starting point.
It may seem easy at the start but linear progress gets tough very quickly.

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Posted Wed, 06/10/2015 - 21:01
James

I want to try this out. I've been doing the "bro split" for a while.
My question is what alternatives i can do instead of shrugs? Can i do lateral raises? became my should is not wide. doing shrugs will make it worse.
thx for answering

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Posted Thu, 06/11/2015 - 09:26
MikeWines

Hey James,
Some of your concerns regarding your shoulder girdle are genetic in nature (i.e. your width is mostly determined by bone structure.) However though, that being said, most of the time guys with massive upper backs tend to appear much wider in the shoulders due to the large amount of muscle mass they're carrying. I would throw in some pullups or chinups and get brutally strong on those.

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Posted Sun, 06/14/2015 - 17:53
Stephen

Dude you overthink everything. No shit u cant progress 5 lbs on everything because some exercises dont require weights much heavier than around 20-30 lbs. You can't double it in a month. Exercises with more weight are easier to go up by 5 at a time because its not that big of a difference. Dude, just do the exercises and try to progress. It's not rocket science.

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 09:36
MikeWines

No, I said to replace it with either chinups or pullups.
Yes, decrease on both days.
For accessory work, if you can't add weight, add reps. It's still progressive overload.

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Posted Sun, 06/14/2015 - 20:02
James

Thanks for answering. Can i replace the straight bar with the EZ curl bar because of my wrist issues?

And you said replace the shrugs with chins or pull ups. But i think that would exhaust you muscle before doing curls.

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Posted Thu, 06/11/2015 - 20:17
James

So, should i just not do the shrugs or replace it with lateral raises?
Also, Could you help me with these questions? Do you decrease 10% BR on every single B? So the second week when you're doing BAB, you decrease the weight on both B?

If you do incline curl, Most of the gyms won't have some dumbbells like 27.5 or 37.5 pounds. It's hard to add 5 pounds on curl each time. How do you solve that? Can I use EZ curl bar? My wrists hurt when using straight bars.
thank you very much!

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 13:06
James

Thanks a lot. EZ bar is not acceptable?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/15/2015 - 09:06
MikeWines

You'll be fine, a few sets of chinups isn't going to kill your curl performance. Not to mention, chinups (especially weighted) are going to generate a much larger stimulus for your arms than a few sets of EZ bar curls.

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Posted Tue, 06/09/2015 - 11:38
Rich

I've never done squats or dead lifts because I have scoliosis, but I don't have back pain (I'm 21). I think it would be good for me to do both like you said, but, especially with dead lifts, I'm not sure if I should stay away.
If I do light weight until I get the form down well, would you recommend doing them both? Or is it better to do another exercise for scoliosis?
I'm really looking forward to starting this program!

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 06/10/2015 - 09:49
MikeWines

Rich,
It would depend entirely on the severity of your scoliosis. I would definitely recommend that you get cleared by a certified practitioner before anything else as your question is slightly out of my scope of practice.

If you're looking for a few simple technique tips to lock your deadlift in, check out this article: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/5-reasons-you-cant-deadlift-m...

There is a corresponding video series that many found helpful and most of the problems highlighted within the article can easily be correctly with internal or external cueing.

In regards to squatting though, I would be a bit more careful on that one due to the direct axial loading (i.e. having the barbell directly on your spine). If it was me, I would start with single leg work which you can still load VERY aggressively if you know how to progress it and then work your way into bilateral movements such as front and back squats as long as you don't experience any sort of pain or discomfort. Start with the progression scheme here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/train-like-an-athlete-look-li...

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Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 09:16
Rich

Thanks for your response. Last question: can the leg press work as affectively or near as effectively as squatting? Or is squatting way better? I'm going to talk to someone about squats, and I'm excited to start dead lifting for sure.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 09:31
MikeWines

Learning how to squat properly is one of the most valuable assets you can have in your gym arsenal. You may not be able to barbell back squat on day 1 though so look through the article I linked above which provides some squat alternatives.

Above all though, don't fall back on the leg press, that's the last thing you want.

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Posted Mon, 06/08/2015 - 19:20
FB

So - I did my first day of this today and these are some example numbers I did:

Bench Press - 135 (was very easy for me - I can do sets of 20 lol)

Squats - 185lb (was moderately tough but I've never squatted much)

Bent Rows (50lb dumbbells)

Tricep Extensions (50lb dumbbell)

Are those pretty good numbers to start with for someone that doesn't lift?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 06/09/2015 - 09:09
MikeWines

FB,
Those are definitely solid weights. Don't be afraid to up things if they feel easy though. For example, if the 135 bench felt extremely easy then just count it as a warm up set and up the weight for your actual working sets at 5x5.

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Posted Tue, 06/09/2015 - 18:27
FB

Thanks for the advice!

I think tomorrow I'll slap an extra 20lbs on bench and keep doing that each lift day until I find my spot.

Everything else I think I'm good on numbers though (minus maybe curls).

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Posted Mon, 06/08/2015 - 01:47
Deano

I see there is a cutting version to this, but i'm looking to lose A LOT of weight. Like 15-20kgs. Is this still a good place to start if i am that overweight?

Thanks.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/08/2015 - 09:07
MikeWines

Deano,
Yep, this is still a solid place to start. Throw in a little conditioning on 1-2 of your off days and you'll be golden.

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Posted Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:14
Deano

Thank you Mike, appreciate the reply!

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Posted Tue, 06/02/2015 - 22:45
Otoniel Sanchez

How long should i do this program???

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 06/03/2015 - 09:16
MikeWines

Otoniel,
It depends on your current level of experience and your goals. There is never a "one size fits all" recommendation when it comes to lifting weights.

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Posted Sun, 05/31/2015 - 17:02
Training Noob

Hi, i'm taking weight training next year at school, and our school has 50 min periods every day except the block period (90 min) , which is tuesday/wednesday. so if i do the workout monday wednesday friday, the only day i can actually finish the workout is wednesday. Would it be ok if i finished some exercises after school on monday and friday?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/01/2015 - 10:27
MikeWines

TN,
That certainly sounds fine to me. However, your school may have some programming in place associated with the weight training class so they may require you to run that.

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

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

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

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

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

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