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.

663 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 02/04/2016 - 20:34

If I want to add side lateral raises or face pulls, should they be in workout A or workout B?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 02/05/2016 - 10:16

Drop the hypers in day 1 for either.

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Posted Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:53

I hurt my hip flexor, so I had to stop squatting and deadlifting hard while I rehab it. Do you have any suggestions for an exercise I can do in the meantime to work my legs?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 02/03/2016 - 11:01

I would recommend training upper body more frequently given the hip flexors are involved in nearly every lower body movement. In regards to lower body, that will depend upon what your physical therapist recommends in terms of contraindicated exercises.

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Posted Sat, 01/30/2016 - 00:47

Can you do a program like this safely by yourself? Even with activities like the bench press?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 02/01/2016 - 09:24

Of course. If you feel uncomfortable benching by yourself then simply substitute it with a dumbbell version. You can also keep the safety pins slightly higher than normal when you squat and also use them when you overhead press if you're really worried.

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Posted Fri, 01/29/2016 - 18:40

Please is this work good for gaining weight, im 6'1" and wanna gain weight. well this help??

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 02/01/2016 - 09:20

Start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

Nothing works until you do.

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Posted Wed, 01/27/2016 - 21:23

I have a herniated disc in my neck , C3-C4, should I avoid squat or deadlift?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 01/28/2016 - 14:06

It is tough to make blanket recommendations regarding specific exercises as each individual's case is different and the list of contraindicated exercises for you might be different than someone else. Overall, I would recommend that you get cleared by a professional who specializes in rehabilitation and human movement who understand the demands of an athlete.

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 17:42

Is this enough shoulder workouts ? Just overhead press once every other time? Or can I add lateral raisers on that day?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 09:18

The author explicitly emphasizes not to add anything to the training session but I think a few lateral raises isn't going to kill anyone. I would super set them with arm work to save some time.

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 08:23

Regarding squats, my gym does not have a regular squat rack but only smith machines... I have been told many times that the Smith Machine squat is not good. Is there a better alternative than this?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 09:24

Go with a goblet squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf1uQj10G-4

If the heaviest dumbbell your gym offers is too light, then go for something like a landmine squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgkLAMsjHps

If that's not an option either, then elect for heavy single leg work with dumbbells: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTxUq2NJOJ0

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Posted Fri, 01/22/2016 - 21:13

ive run a 5x5 before, it was the stronglifts variation, but i like the look of this one alittle better
im 5,5" tall
about 155lbs and my last numbers were 195 - squat, 260 - deadlift, 165 - bench, 105 - overhead press and 155 - pendlay row

i had to take time off because of work and i havent hit the gym in over 4 months but im planing to get back into it the next two weeks. when i first began stronglifts i started with just the bar, so i have a few questions about getting back into it.

question 1 - what weight should i be starting with when i get back to it because im positive i can no longer get the numbers i was ?

question 2 - i want to include front squats to improve thoracic extension, abdominal tightness through the lift and develop quad strength, mostly because i was begining to lean forward coming out of the hole, so how would i implement these into the program? could i maybe sub curls with front squats?

and my final question, how often should i aim to increase weight on the accessory lifts and the amount of reps on the chin ups?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 10:12


Start with a weight that is moderately tough but still allows you to get all of the assigned repetitions. When you complete a set you should feel like you still have 1-2 repetitions in the tank. Every set should not be a grinder.

For front squats, you could include those in workout B as your main squat exercise so you would alternate between front and back squats each session.

Chinups aren't included with the original program but I think they're a great addition. For the accessory work, aim to increase as often as possible in either weight or reps. Focus on the quality of the work you're putting in as opposed to the quantity and only increase when you feel like you've mastered a set weight. There's no point in adding more iron to the bar if you can't control it.

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Posted Wed, 01/20/2016 - 17:19

I have some sort of groin injury which effects my squat and deadlift to the point where even just doing the bar for squats is painful. Should I rest the injury to a full recovery or is there something else I can do.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 01/21/2016 - 09:30

You can always work around injuries but that will depend upon your individual injury and a host of other factors. It would be outside my scope of practice to recommend something without recommending you speak with a professional who can assess the injury.

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Posted Wed, 01/20/2016 - 15:04

Hey Jason,

First, thanks so much for this workout. Such a huge help for me!

I was just wondering if I could sub in dumbell bench press instead of bench presses. Sometimes it's hard to find a spotter at my gym.


MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 01/21/2016 - 09:28

That is certainly a viable option but just keep in mind that it may be tougher to increase incrementally given dumbbells go up or down in 10lb increments rather than 5lbs compared to a barbell version.

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Posted Mon, 01/18/2016 - 02:29

What do you think about taking out the 5x5 squats in workout B to add 5x5 deadlifts?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/18/2016 - 10:18

I'm not the author (obviously) but I think his fear of anyone deadlifting more than 1 set of 5 is unfounded if the person has lifted for any more than a month or two. I would probably start with ~15 total reps of work split up however you like: 6x2, 3x5, 4x4, 12x1, 5x3, etc.

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Posted Sun, 01/17/2016 - 21:00

I wanted to ask, I should be adding 5 lbs per set? Or will it be 5lbs per day for those 5x5?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/18/2016 - 10:16

5lbs per day.

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Posted Thu, 01/14/2016 - 04:55

I am interested in this programme, but i had a motorcycle accident many years ago and have a weak upper/central back, i need to work the section that retracts (i think thats the correct word for pinching my shoulders together) my upper back, can you off any excercises i can incorporate that would not have an impact on this programmes performance ?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Thu, 01/14/2016 - 10:30


If you're looking to build up strength in the upper back, you can start with different row variations:
1. Pronated DB row (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVPiIToTP1Y)
2. Snatch grip RDL (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef158u_KMmo)
3. Facepull (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbpmaP-Oxz8)

Etc. etc.

There are a million different options, just depends upon what you're trying to accomplish and why.

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Posted Thu, 01/14/2016 - 14:16

I have had a lot of time off, many years from my serious training days, I want overall development on a basic programme such as this, but I seen there was a focus on not adding to this programme hence why I inquired, I need to work all the muscles between my shoulder blades and stop my forward shoulder posture

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Posted Sat, 01/09/2016 - 15:19

Hey, I've got a question about the cable crunches. Is it possible to substitute it with something like an ab crunch machine.
Sitting on my knees is very uncomfortable for me as I had a knee surgery a couple months back. The surgery made my left knee lose a lot of its feeling and sitting on it makes this very uncomfortable.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/11/2016 - 10:02


If something causes pain then by all means, definitely work around it. I would recommend half kneeling variations where the unaffected knee is down such as this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh6VHVHMoo8) and also anti extension variations such as this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TKktamzq4o).

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Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 23:09

I've previously done some similar 5x5 weight workouts that closely resemble this one. I plan on doing this one because I do enjoy the idea of squatting every workout. The issue is that I weigh over 300 lbs. Would this workout with some cardio be a good direction into losing the fat along with proper diet?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/11/2016 - 10:04

Like most things in fitness, the answer is "it depends." Can it be a good starting place? Sure. Will it work for everyone, all the time, regardless of all other variables? Nope.

How will you know? Try it out for a few weeks and see what you think. You know your body better than anyone else.

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Posted Thu, 01/07/2016 - 19:38

Hello, I was recommended your program. The first thing I see is your thumbnail saying if I don't do barbell squats then I will get no where and might as well not train at all, only fluffy puffy programs which are worthless. I sustained a spine injury in an accident and need to go to the gym to gain strength and lose weight I have gained from not being able to exercise, and I am not to do barbell squats. Thanks for your motivation, great job.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 09:23

Hey Patric,
The author has his own opinions on the issue but as a strength coach, I would most definitely not agree. Goblet squats would be a great place to start as they will allow you to maintain the squat pattern but won't load the spine aggressively: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf1uQj10G-4

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Posted Thu, 01/07/2016 - 14:45

Can I do a cable low row instead of the bent over row?
I herniated my back a year ago and it still feels brutal staying over in a hunched position. I prefer something seated.

Great routine so far.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:09

Hey Duran,
If something causes pain then you should definitely modify it. I would also suggest chest supported rowing versions as this will put less pressure upon the lumbar spine.

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Posted Thu, 01/07/2016 - 04:58

I am 145 pounds and I've been doing bro split for about 1 year and 2 months now. I do all my lifts with dumbbells and machines... no barbells... I was wondering if this program would still suit me even I've been working out for over a year? I've gained about 20 kg since I started going to gym body fat is about 17 to 18 precent


MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:10

Any program can work. If you don't have much experience with barbell lifts then this program would be a good place to start.

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2016 - 13:09
Thomas Smith

Hello. I know that cardio was addressed in the FAQS, but it was regarding weight loss. I wanted to ask if it is ok to do moderate to intense cardio while running this program (be it on rest days and workout days)?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 01/05/2016 - 15:02

It would be best to choose non weight bearing options if possible. As long as it doesn't interfere with your training sessions, then yes, it's ok.

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Posted Tue, 12/29/2015 - 11:01
Camilo Bonilla

Hey Jason, I hope you reply to this. What if I just want to keep going every other day in stead of just scheduling it for M/W/F or T/Th/S?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:12

Hey Camilo,
You can certainly train EOD but as you get more experienced it will become much tougher to continue to make progress. This program is based upon linear progression (adding 5lbs every session) which quickly itself out as a trainee becomes more experienced.

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Posted Mon, 12/28/2015 - 20:29
Ollie ojm

Hey Iam really looking forward to starting this program only done a little bit of training before. I was hoping you could shed some light on a issue I'm having. When ever I do any work that uses my hamstrings "squats" deadlifts I get a sharp pain just in my hamstrings even if it's very light weight . Should I just try to fight though this I just don't want to do to much damage as my job Revoles around going up and down on ladders.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:15

If something causes pain you need to work around it for the time being while you investigate the issue with a qualified professional. It's never smart to just "push through it".

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Posted Sun, 12/27/2015 - 15:04

Hey all , I am a regular lifter from last 14months with all clean shits and dedication even got superb transformation from chubby to fit guy meanwhile. But I got a suggestion from my trainer that as i have stuck with the weights from some time (BDS 150/350/150 and even deload didn't work) i should try this program. I have some questions regarding this after watched the whole video :

1) Will it really help me to increase my strength in my workouts and do i have not to worry about 1 bodypart / day and just stick with it ? For how much time i mean ? when should i suppose to shuffle for some intermediate workouts as i was doing back and forth from last several months ?

2) Why there is no warm up sets for this much high volume compound moments ? Do we have to do it ?

3) We all don't have micro-weights in our gym , so what should we suppose to do ? For example , i have 5lb plates only in my gym so should i perform max weight for 2 workouts and then increase it gradually and so?

4) He gave an advice for a tricep extension to do it all the way back to your head and all but in the given link in his program it redirect to a demo of cable tricep extension . So what should we do from these two ?

Thanks in advance.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:27

1) Yes. Given your current lifts, this would be a good program to run as your squat is lacking quite a bit.
2) Start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies
3) Stick with the same weight for a week, then increase.
4) Use his suggestions or simply alternate every 4 weeks.

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Posted Sun, 12/27/2015 - 02:10

Have been doing strong lifts for a while now and my workouts take over an hour. Would you recommend me doing 3x5 on the squats to ensure I can get this done on my lunch break. Bodyweight 80kgs, squat 120, deadlift 140... Thanks

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:18

That's fine, you can modify things slightly if it helps you to remain consistent with your workouts.

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Posted Tue, 12/22/2015 - 22:17

Hi, I have been lifting for a few months and think this programme would be really good for me to kick on. The problem is that ideally I would like to become lean as well as build muscle (my end goal is to look like Greg O'Gallagher- kinobody) and as a 5'2 man (very very short) I really don't wanna become too bulky. Would you still recommend the programme or an alternative? (My weight is 58.6kg, body fat around 18%)

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/04/2016 - 10:38

Leanness is a result of your nutritional intake coupled with your specific training requirements. You won't get bulky simply due to a program.

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Posted Mon, 12/21/2015 - 20:05

How long is this program?