If you have been struggling to make strength progressions, or maybe you are just looking for some structure in your workout, look no further than the Ice Cream Fitness 5×5 training program by Jason Blaha.
I’ve always had a problem recommending workout programs that don’t have a foundation of strength integrated into the programming.
It’s not that there is no value in HIIT training or long-duration cardio – most people will benefit far more from periodized strength training.
For generations, strength experts have been utilizing periodized strength progressions in order to build mass and power without risking injury. That’s the other important aspect to consider with a new workout program – injury rates.
Although strength training requires the use of high resistance and heavy loads, the injury rates are much lower than other styles of training.
How is this possible?
Strength training that is progressive in nature will provide you with a foundation at which to build your body and progress into the future, without risking injury. Instead of pushing through long duration, exhaustive sets with terrible form your goal is to lift as heavy as possible without any sacrifice in form.
One of the best programs to build muscle, reduce injury and improve overall body composition is the 5×5 Ice Cream Fitness program by Jason Blaha.
What is the Jason Blaha Ice Cream Fitness 5×5 Program?
Designed by American strength Coach, Jason Blaha has created a universal adaptation on the popular 5×5 strength progression method.
5×5 means five sets of five repetitions.
The main goal with this style of programming is to build muscle and improve the biomechanics of each lift. You will quickly notice that this program will not utilize any rep counts above 30 total repetitions per exercise – this is done to keep the quality of exercise higher than the quantity.
The 5×5 training program is best suited for the beginner to intermediate lifter, although advanced lifters can benefit from this style of training on deloading weeks (we’ll talk about this later).
Ice Cream Fitness
The Ice Cream 5×5 fitness program by Jason Blaha is divided into two specific workout days where the main lifts (squat, bench, bent over row, deadlift, overhead press) are split between days.
Each day includes both push and pull movements – essentially a full body training program on every workout.
This is done in an effort to stimulate as much muscle and induce as much hypertrophy as possible.
How many days per week will I workout?
The Ice Cream Fitness 5×5 program will have you training 3 days each week, with rest between each day. The program has two separate workouts that will be split into 2-week cycles.
What are the Benefits of This Style of Training?
The benefits of progressive strength training are immense. As we touched on before, you will develop a foundation of strength, yet even better, this style of training will teach you how to exercise with better biomechanics and understand strength periodization – essential for your long-term success in the gym.
Increased Rest = Faster Gains
For some reason, many people have the idea that in order to grow stronger and lose weight they need to exercise daily. This simply is not true. In fact, most research will show that in order for muscles to properly recover and repair they needs approximately 24-36 hours between training sessions.
The 5×5 Ice Cream Fitness program utilizes a higher onset of recovery time and will enable you to grow stronger, faster, without risking injury.
Lower Reps = Greater Hypertrophy
Strength experts are a little conflicted, yet research will show that lower rep schemes will induce a greater hypertrophic response. The 5×5 Ice Cream Fitness program only uses rep counts below 30 (quite low) and at its lowest only 5 total reps per exercise.
This low rep count will teach your body to handle high loads – essential for progress as a beginner and intermediate lifter.
Benefits of the 5×5 Strength Program by Jason Blaha
- Increase raw strength
- Stimulate hypertrophy
- Improve biomechanics
- Provide solid foundation of strength and conditioning
- Teach you principles of strength
|Build Muscle, Build Strength, Stimulate Hypertrophy
|Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
|12 Weeks – 2 week cycles
|Days Per Week:
|Time Per Workout:
|Barbell, Dumbbell, Machine
|Gabriello Ianniruberto – Strength Expert, CSEP – CPT
Before you get too excited and jump into the workout, let’s take a look at some very important aspects to consider to optimize your time on this program.
Reps, Sets and Weight
As with any strength program, the reps and sets will tell you everything you need to know about the weight you will lift.
Lower reps indicate a higher weight, but only if the sets are also low.
The majority of this bodybuilding program works on a 5×5 or an 8×3. In both cases you would use a moderate amount of weight.
You cannot go heavy for 5 consecutive sets – this may lead to injury.
Pay close attention to the amount of reps and sets you have for a particular exercise. If you only have one set of five reps – go heavy and work through the pain (be sure to have a thorough warm up with any 1RM).
Form = Function
An age old saying in strength circles.
The better the form, the greater your potential for advancement in strength.
When working with lower rep ranges – as you will see in this program it is crucial that you only work with perfect, or near perfect form.
Of course, there are moments where you will need to push through a set, and one or two of your repetitions may sacrifice some form but this should be the only time you break down.
I would recommend that you utilize the many recovery days you have to get into the gym, onto a foam roller and into accessory work exercises – improve form and overall posture. This work will only improve your performance output.
Overtraining and Recovery
Most people will not be accustomed to resting for 4/days a week on a training program. If you feel the urge to train more frequently you can, but it is important you listen to your body.
The 5×5 Ice Cream Fitness Program was specifically developed to help athletes increase strength potential without overtraining. As a general rule during training, if you feel any pain or numbness that feels like nerve pain, stop.
- Pain at load-bearing joints (elbow, knee, shoulder, hip)
- Soreness on distal portion of muscle (biceps pain at elbow)
- Lack of sleep
These are common markers of overtraining. The best way to tell is to listen to your body. Since you are only training 3x a week and repeating workouts on and off, you should adapt very quickly. Listen to your body and understand this is a long-term process.
Alright, enough talk – let’s take a look at your new ICF 5×5 training program.
Ice Cream Fitness 5×5 Schedule and Workout Plan:
- Day 1 – Workout A
- Day 2 – Rest
- Day 3 – Workout B
- Day 4 – Rest
- Day 5 – Workout A
- Day 6 – Rest
- Day 7 – Rest
- Day 1 – Workout B
- Day 2 – Rest
- Day 3 – Workout A
- Day 4 – Rest
- Day 5 – Workout A
- Day 6 – Rest
- Day 7 – Rest
|Bent Over Row
|Bent Over Row (10% lighter)
|Close Grip Bench Press
The Science Behind the 5×5 Workout Periodization
Irrespective of the style of strength training, consistency will provide results in lean muscle mass and overall muscle tone. With this in mind, conclusive evidence has been demonstrated to show that variable rep ranges work better for specific goals.
Higher reps ranges (bodybuilding style) has been shown to be very effective at promoting overall muscle density and size, yet lower rep ranges (powerlifting style, like 5×5) have been shown to induce the greatest effects on overall strength, especially with compound lifts.
When rep ranges are taken into account, low ranges are best for developing strength and increasing your potential for growth in squat, bench and deadlift.
Advanced Lifters Guide to 5×5 Training
This style of training is best suited for the beginner-intermediate athlete. However, advanced athletes can use 5×5 training to deload during weeks of recovery.
Most, if not all advanced athletes should have deloading set into their programs. 5×5, 6×4, and 8×3 are all perfect rep ranges to stimulate muscle growth while resting on a recovery week.
Here’s an example of how you can use 5×5 to deload through recovery weeks.
Most advanced lifters should be using percentage markers to calculate their lifts. On deloading weeks you can use the same percentage market to mirror higher rep ranges with moderate stress on the muscle – perfect for deloading.
Take a look.
Concluding Your ICF 5×5 Workout
If you have been struggling to make strength progressions, or maybe you are just looking for some structure in your workout – something that you can follow and have trust results will come, look no further than the ICF 5×5 training program by Jason Blaha.
The most important aspect to consider on this type of bodybuilding program is to take care of your muscles and joints. The stress will be immense – more than you are used to. Utilize recovery tools such as ice baths and compression wraps when you can to reduce inflammation and prepare your body for the next workout.
Enjoy the gains.
CSEP – CPT, Expert in Exercise Physiology
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.