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.

1.2K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 03/25/2017 - 13:00
Ibrahim

Hey,
So I´m on a cutting phase, and new to this program and for some reason when I do squats on Monday I feel really good then wednesday feel worser, then friday the weight feels really heavy for me and my muscle imbalance kicks in and it starts to become a struggle.

Could it be squatting 3 times a week is too much for me, and I should only do it Monday and wednesday and do all my other exercisesbesides squats on wednesday? Btw I do 3x5 on the major lifts.

Should squatting only Monday and Friday be a problem, and I should do this only on my cutting phase?

Thanks :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/27/2017 - 09:39
JoshEngland

Hi Ibrahim,

What you are referring to is called delayed onset muscle soreness. It can be difficult to deal with. I've provided a link to an article you might find beneficial that discusses dealing with muscle soreness after a workout.

If squatting is the only thing you are finding difficult, you're more than welcome to continue doing this program 3 times a week but only sqautting twice. If you're having similar issues with other muscle groups, you can perform this workout twice per week and still see results. However, if you decide to do so, make adding back in that third day your goal to accomplish in time.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/5-tips-improve-workout-recovery

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:12
Yunier

I'm on my second week of this program at the moment. Im trying to lose weight but I'm doing 5x5 first week was kind of hard because i was pretty sore (hadn't worked out in a long time) my legs more than anything. It was also due to the fact I do quite a bit of cardio (play basketball for about 10 hours a week)

Would it be smart to doing this program 4 times a week? Or is that too much?

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Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:41
joey1

hey i am 15 and want to get into building a bit my mom wants me to start off using the gym in my building without a personal trainer for 2 months first but the gym isnt fully stocked i think it has basic machines and equipment like a cable machine bench press machine some weights etc will it be good enough?? PS its because she doesnt believe i really want to do this and a PT and gym membership is a bit expensive where i live

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:12
JoshEngland

Hey Joey,

Of course it will be enough, people build awesome physiques using nothing but their own body all the time.

I've provided a few resources below to help you along the way with your journey.

The first is our teenage bodybuilding guide, read it to gain knowledge about how to train smartly and effectively while your body is going through changes at this stage in your life.

The second is our muscle building split guide. By reading it you can learn how to build splits appropriately so your muscles have enough time to recover in between training bouts.

Lastly, is our complete exercise database. After you understand how weightlifting will affect your body as a teenager and understand how to build a split, utilize this database to find exercises you can do with the equipment you have.

1. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/teenage-bodybuilding
2. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/the-ultimate-muscle-building-...
3. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 01:10
Joshua

Would you recommend this program for someone who is trying to put on size for football?

Thank you!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:11
JoshEngland

Hi Joshua,

The program is not sports specific, but is a good program to build strength. I'd say it's a pretty good option for sure.

We also have a couple of football specific workouts you could check. I've provided the links below:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/marc-megna-football-training-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/offseason-football-workout

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/football-strength-workout.html

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 16:19
jon

Hey is there any way to work grip strength/pullups into this to get more hanging and climbing strength? Not a climber, I just like obstacle courses with monkey bars, rings etc

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi Jon,

Sure I dont see why not. Add some grip exercises to the tail end of the workouts or on off days where a deadlift workout does not follow.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:37
Justin Blado

Hey, so in the workout program it said to do Normal Bench Press, and Conventional deadlift. Can we do incline bench press and sumo deadlift instead, and is there any negative to doing that overall?

Also doesnt doing weight ab cruches bad for the lower back since your bending your lower back alot when doing those heavy crunches for reps?

Thanks so much!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:29
JoshEngland

Hi Justin,

They are the same movement patterns, so I think you'll be fine in making those adjustments. Some people aren't built for conventional deadlift and flat bench press. Personally, I like to swap out the variation I use for those exercises periodically in my programs as a microprogression.

If you feel like the cable crunches are hurting your back, feel free to substitute them with another abdominal exercise that doesn't involve flexion of the spine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:10
Mohd Ibrahim

Hey, I´m currently overweight and trying to do this program in a caloric deficit, and I seem to perform the best when I go to the Gym twice a week, since I don´t recover 100%. So should I still go 3 times a week or 2 times a week? Will going 2 times a week help me progress still, like can I still add weight after every week?

Whats your advice on that?

Thanks :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:24
JoshEngland

Hi Mohd,

Yes, you can. Start off performing the workouts 2 times per week. A good progression for you will be adding in that third workout once you're ready to. Then, continue to try to add weight overtime and you'll see the progress you are hoping for.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:25
Hamza

Hey im just wondering can I switch conventional deadlifts trap bar deadlifts?
Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Hi Hamza,

Sure, I don't see why not. The trap bar deadlift is an excellent variation, especially if your body isn't built for conventional.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 12:32
maen

can i do this every other day?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:02
JoshEngland

Hi Maen,

Sure, if you feel as though you're recovery fully and properly with that amount of rest, go for it.

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Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:53
Eamon

Hello;

For nearly all of the isolation movements it is very hard to increase the weight for 2.5 kg for every session and I experienced stalls for these very often. Is it legit to increase the reps before weight in these movements? For example doing barbell curls with 25 kg for 8 reps, than 9 reps, than 10 reps and add the weight than start with 8 reps again.

Thanks.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 13:31
JoshEngland

Hi Eamon,

Yes, that is a great way to make long term progress and is how I normally progress in my programs.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 09:18
Trevor

How many weeks is this designed to go?

I assumed as many as we preferred, until we felt ready to move up to the Intermediate.

What's the standard number of weeks though?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 09:42
JoshEngland

Hey Trevor,

A good rule of thumb is to perform workout programs for about 6 weeks before taking a week to deload. During that week ask yourself:

Have my goals changed?

Is this program helping me attain those goals?

Do I still enjoy doing this program?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, keep on going with the program. If you answered no to any of them, it may be time to find a new program to try.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/14/2017 - 20:07
Natasha

Hi!

I'm a pretty weak female and really worried I won't be able to complete all the exercises straight away, especially while I get the technique down. Would it be ok for me to just start with a few and then add more as the weeks go by?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/15/2017 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Natasha,

Of course! Start with the 5x5 sets and work your way up to including the remaining exercises of the workout. Once you're able to do the full workout, aim to increase the weight you use for each exercise.

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Posted Mon, 03/13/2017 - 22:02
Mike

My gym doesn't have 2.5 lbs plates .. lowest they have are 5 lbs . What would be a good way to add weight ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/15/2017 - 09:27
JoshEngland

Hi Mike,

Do what you can. If you have to jump by 10lbs every other week that's fine. Or if you have to drop to 3 sets of 5 on the weeks you increase, that's also fine. The important thing is you progress over time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:06
Yunier

Are skull crushers a good substitution for tricep extensions?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:56
JoshEngland

Hi Yunier,

Yes, they are.

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Posted Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:55
Yunier Gonzalez

I'm getting back to working out now well starting Monday and thinking of doing this program. I enjoy squats so no issues with me. I weigh about 240 looking to drop below 200 pounds . I'm an active person been doing sports all my life. Would you recommend I go on a low carb diet ? 50g of carbs tops a day ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:07
JoshEngland

Hi Yunier,

I'm not a fan of low carb diets. Carbs are necessary to fuel performance inside and outside of the gym. They're your body's favorite energy source. Unless specifically told to do so from a medical practitioner, I'd steer clear from the words "low carb".

Many people think going low carb is the key to weight loss. It isn't. The key is making sure you're in a caloric deficit.

Instead, check out our BMR calculator (link below). Plug in your numbers to find out your maintenance calories, then subtract ~250 cals from that and aim to eat that amount daily.

Track your progress, if you're not seeing the progress you're hopeful for, lower your calories another 100-250 until you are.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:13
yunier

What type of meal plan would you do in my case ? I was just thinking of eating better in the sense of no sodas or sugary drinks. I only drink coffee and water plus protein drink when I start lifting but I was thinking of just eating for ex. two meals lunch and dinner as salad and whatever lean meat I cook. two snacks in the middle so I'm not entirely hungry plus my protein shake . Does this sound good or its too general ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/10/2017 - 15:20
JoshEngland

Hi Yunier,

It's tough to say as everyone is different, enjoys different foods, respond to different macronutrient breakdowns, etc, etc.

With that said, here's a good resource you can use to learn how to design your own fat loss meal plan:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/fat-loss-meal-plan

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/09/2017 - 15:57
Aleksander

If I fail on my 2 set of 5x5 should I just quit that exercise and go on, or lower the weight and do my other 3 sets of 5? Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/09/2017 - 16:31
JoshEngland

Hi Aleksander,

You should lower the weight by about 10% and try to use that weight for the remaining sets. If you fail again, lower the weight once more and proceed to use that weight until you are able to move back up in weight the following weeks.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/08/2017 - 19:18
Eliott

I'm just recovered from a shoulder injury about a week ago and I've been doing shoulder workouts but when I did the standing press it really irritated my should and it hurt is there a different exercise I can replace for that

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Posted Wed, 03/08/2017 - 01:35
ANDREW Peel

What can I do to maintain or increase mobility/flexibility during off days or day of lifts? Yoga, mobility exercises ala Kelly Starrett, etc?
Awesome stuff here....thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/08/2017 - 09:14
JoshEngland

Hi Andrew,

Sure, you could add in some mobility and flexibility work on your off days. Yoga and Pilates are good routes to go down. You could also introduce some foam rolling and breathing exercises into your program as well. Check out some of these resources:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/4-mobility-foam-roller-drills

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/best-10-minute-yoga-mobility-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/07/2017 - 10:44
Kris Short

How does this differ from Starting Strength? Did Starting Strength copy the ICF template as it seems very similar? Thanks.

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Posted Sun, 03/05/2017 - 17:11
Jesse

Hi! I've been doing 5x5 Stronglifts for 4-5 months now and I like it but I want more results and this seems great! Now the question about the squats: I have a problem with my hip and can my physio told me not to do squats or any leg workout for about 3 months, except for lunges. Is that good enough for replacing squats? I can't wait getting my hip fixed and getting to squat again.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/06/2017 - 09:37
JoshEngland

Hi Jesse,

Yes, don't go against the advice of your medical practitioner.

It might also be worth the investment to hire a personal trainer to work with in person. They may be able to provide you with suitable alternatives based on your injury history and current movement patterns.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/02/2017 - 13:15
Nord

Hi.
Can i substitute bench press with incline bench press. I feel like having man boobs and i don't want my lower pecs to get even bigger.
Best regards.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/02/2017 - 13:18
JoshEngland

Hi Nord,

Sure, that should be a fine substitution.

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Posted Thu, 03/02/2017 - 09:43
Ibrahim

My AC joint hurts, what can I do in replacement of my bench press and overhead press in the training program?

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Posted Tue, 02/28/2017 - 15:33
Oscar

Hi! So me and my friend have been doing home workouts for the past year and now we both are 16 we both bought a membership for the gym. We are planninh to do this workout because it looks really nice and we saw some really good reviews. My only question is: is it ok for us (16year olds) to do bench presses squats and deadlifts? Some people say that they will damage your grow but others say it actualy benefits it however be carefull and make sure you use the right form. So what is it?

Thx Oscar

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/28/2017 - 15:59
JoshEngland

Hi Oscar,

Weightlifting can be very beneficial for you as a teenager as you grow into your body. I've provided our teenage expert guide to bodybuilding down below. It's a lengthy read, but should help answer any questions you might have for getting started.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/teenage-bodybuilding

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 14:14
eran

how do i start to do the working sets? i mean, how do i progres to it?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 15:59
JoshEngland

Hi Eran,

Spend the first 10-15 minutes of your workout warming up then jump into your working sets. Here's a helpful article to explain how to warm up for your big lifts:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

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Posted Wed, 02/22/2017 - 22:07
Jillbizzle

Today was my first day and I loved the routine! Can the cable crunches be substituted for a different exercise? I am limited on time when I am doing this routine (I go in the morning before work) and sometimes the cables are in use. It would be helpful to know if there is another machine or exercise that can be done in this situation that'll provide similar results.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 02/23/2017 - 09:22
JoshEngland

Hi Jillbizzle,

I'm glad that you're enjoying the workout program. The cable crunches can be substituted for any weighted crunch variation. So, you could do crunches holding a weight or perform crunches on a weighted ab isolation machine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 02/23/2017 - 14:15
Jillbizzle

Awesome, thank you!

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Posted Fri, 02/17/2017 - 18:47
Jay

Hello, my problem is similar to Omar in a sense. I currently don't have the funds for a gym membership and I don't think I will for some time. That said I do have a bar at home and some weights but unfortunately not enough to hit my 5 rep max, let alone continue to stack more weight on each week. I know Jason mentioned in his video to not play around with sets/reps but would it be fine in my case to change it to something like a 4x8 or 3x10-12 for all of the 5x5s? As that way I can continue to stack weight and progress. Would it still get me similar results? Or would it be detrimental to the program? Thanks.