Before starting any new workout regime, you need to know where you stand. The Madcow’s 5×5 is designed for the intermediate to advanced powerlifters and bodybuilders who are stuck at strength plateau.
The Madcow 5×5 workout program is designed by an elite powerlifter for lifters alike.
It is a well-structured detailed program designed specifically to push your powerlifting limits further.
Comprising on squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press and bent-over rows, the Madcow workout program is a more specific iteration of generic Bill Star 5×5 program.
It is very simple to understand the program and to make it further accessible a detailed template spreadsheet is also included.
Structured to gain both strength and muscle, this routine is designed last over 8-12 weeks depending on when you hit the ceiling. Here we detailed insights into all the aspects of this program.
What is the MadCow 5×5 program?
Inspired by Bill Star’s 5×5 strength training program an elite fitness member developed this modified strength and bodybuilding program which has been named after his username on the forum.
The Madcow 5×5 program is a mix of main lifts and some specific accessory work. Starting the cycle with sub-maximal weights you increase the loading every week gradually till you reach the failure.
This workout program continues for 8-12 weeks. If you last for 8 weeks in the program you are poised to gain 10-15% over your PR max.
The program is built around big muscle movements and has alternate work days. With improving your lifting PRs, this program also helps you in developing overall body strength.
To maximize the results, this program includes some accessory work on each work day.
The program has specified accessory workouts, sets and reps in the schedule.
Introduction to Madcow 5×5 Intermediate Program
The main lifts of the program are squats, bench, overhead press, deadlift and row. For each main lift performed on each work day in this program, the first few sets are gradual built up for the last heavy set in which you will be lifting max weight for the day. All except the Friday max weight set is of 5 reps each.
Madcow’s 5×5 program doesn’t have a fixed number of weeks. The design of the program suggests that it should last for 8 to 12 weeks. Every week you keep adding on an average 2.5% weight to the max set. The program cycle finishes on the week when you fail to do complete the max weight set.
The program doesn’t have a fixed top week. It can be anywhere between 8-12 weeks depending on how much strength you improved during the program. It is this nature of the program makes it suitable to opt for only during the preparation phase on not during the weeks leading to your competition.
Throughout the program, you work out on three non-consecutive days per week, preferably on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Among these, Mondays are heavy work and Fridays are high volume days comparatively. You will be doing three main lifts on every work day. On Mondays and Fridays you perform squats, bench and rows; then squats, press, deadlift on Wednesdays.
MadCow 5×5 Program
The program starts with a top set of about 95% of your 5 rep max. In each work out you work up to your top set for each exercise with moderate weight sets of 5 rep each. You increase the top set weights by about 2.5% weight each week.
Sets x Reps
4×5, 1×3, 1×8
4×5, 1×3, 1×8
4×5, 1×3, 1×8
- You will be lifting your personal record max in the top set by week 4. After that, your top set on every week, you will be setting new 5 rep maxes.
- On Mondays, you will be doing 5 sets of 5 reps including one top set of squats, bench and barbell rows.
- On Wednesdays (Lighter day), you won’t be doing a top set of squats. Other two main lifts on Wednesday would be overhead press/incline bench and deadlifts, for all these lifts you would be doing 3 building-up sets and one top set. But for squat 4th set will be a repetition of 3rd
- Fridays are high volume days, and you will be doing a top set at a higher weight than that of Monday but it would be a 3 rep set. The main lifts are the same as Mondays, also the first 4 building-up sets too. The 5th set would be the top set that you would be doing at about 2.5% higher weight for 3 reps. The final set on Fridays is to ramp up the volume and contribute to the gains you need to be using on heavy Monday workout. It would be an 8 rep set at 77.5% of Monday’s top set.
After the fourth week, you would be setting new 5RM personal records every week. The standard program cycle lasts anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks depending on when you reach failure. If you push till the 12th week you are looking at about 20% gains in your 5RM.
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Sets & Reps
As the name suggests most of the exercises are carried out in 5×5 sets and reps. On Mondays, you do 5 sets of 5 rep each for squats, bench and rows. On Wednesdays, you complete 4 sets of 5 rep each for squats, press and deadlift.
The work days are non-consecutive days, there is a rest day in between two workdays. Fridays, you do the main lifts squats, bench and rows. For each exercise 4 sets 5 rep each building up to the top set. The fifth set is a 3 rep heavyweight set. Fridays being high volume days you do an additional 8 rep set for each exercise at moderate weights. It is this light work followed by your heavy triple which would make you ready for increased weights to lift on next week.
Rest Time Between Sets
The rest time between the sets mostly depends on the lifter. You should take optimum rest between the sets to recover and be ready for the next set.
In the Madcow’s 5×5, there is enough recovery time between to workout sessions. The days between the workout days provide you about 48 hours for your muscles to recover without any strength loss.
Considering this, 1-3 minutes should be sufficient rest time to recover between the sets. You can rest a bit more if required but not more than 5 minutes.
The day you start this program, you will be lifting about 95% of your 5 rep max in the top set. This weight is much below your 1 RM.
On the first Friday you do a set at 2.5% higher weight but for 3 reps only. It is on the next Monday that you do a full 5 rep set with incremented weight.
Every week you add 2.5% weight to your top set. The first set in the sets building up to your top set starts at 50% weight of 5 rep max in the beginning, you can raise it up to 60-65% as the program progresses.
You will hit your current max in 4th week. As per the design, the progression can continue for anywhere between 8-12 weeks. The cycle can be trailed by a de-load routine.
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Assistance Exercises (Accessories)
The assistance exercises will help you in improving your main lifts. These can be done at comfortable to moderate weights.
Madcow 5×5 Accessory Work
Sets x Reps
3 x Max reps
Your every workout should be followed by the specific accessory work. The main aim of doing the assistance work won’t be lifting heavy weights but to perform them in great form.
Among the many choices, you can choose any accessory work to do, like sit-ups, hypers, dips, arm curls, extensions. Whatever you choose, you follow them throughout the program, do not tweak too much during one cycle.
MadCow 5×5 Spreadsheet
The Madcow 5×5 is a comprehensive workout routine. You might need some assistance in properly calculating, remembering and following the program without any mistakes.
Keeping that in mind we have created this template in excel sheet to help you with all the weight calculations. It also helps you to keep track of your progress.
You can download the spreadsheet here, put in your details and let it do all the calculations for you. It will generate a customised schedule for you along with the desired weight for each set to be performed for each lift on the particular set on the given day. It also gives out your predicted 1RMs for your reference.
How To Use Madcow 5×5 Spreadsheet
To optimally use the excel sheet you should download the template and put in the values in turquoise colour cells. In the test weight and reps columns, you write down your current maxes for the corresponding exercise and the number of reps you could do for that weight.
In the set interval column you put in the percentage of weight by which you are wishing to ramp up the sets leading to your top set. Smallest plate weight available is needed for the rounding up your workout weights to the practically feasible values. By putting a value in Match PRs in week you can decide in which week you want to reach your 5RM, the default value is 4 weeks.
In tonnage cut column, you mention the percentage of 1RM that specifies the minimum weight set to be considered in your relevant tonnage number.
After furnishing the necessary details, you can take a print of the excel sheet and carry it to the gym to track your progress.
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Madcow 5×5 PDF
Click on the button to download Madcow 5×5 program PDF file
Is Madcow 5×5 Good?
The Madcow 5×5 is an effective program for intermediate to advanced lifters who wish to break the strength plateau. Considering it is a high volume and high-intensity the program is recommended for those who already have solid endurance and stability.
How does Madcow 5×5 work?
The Madcow’s 5×5 program work on improving the maxes of all the main lifts through simple linear periodization and increase the top set weights by about 2.5% per week. With effectively only one top 5 rep set per week and an optimum volume of moderate weight main lifts and accessory work, it proves to be effective.
When should I start Madcow 5×5?
It is recommended for intermediate to advanced lifters. You can start it when you have spent a considerable amount of time lifting weights and gained a solid foundation of great form and enough strength to squat with a heavy weight.
Does Madcow 5×5 build muscle?
Many experienced lifters refer to Madcow 5×5 as a strength bodybuilding program. It can serve both the purposes of improving strength and building muscle.
What Is The Difference Between Madcow Intermediate and Madcow Advanced?
There are many small differences between the Madcow intermediate and advanced versions. The primary difference is there are no squats on Wednesdays after week 4 in the advanced version.
Who Is Madcow 5×5 Effective For?
The Madcow’s 5×5 is most effective for those intermediate lifters who have reached their natural top and not making progress on their powerlifting strength.
Is Madcow 5 x 5 a Bodybuilding or Strength Program?
It is a strength bodybuilding program. The primary object of the program is to build strength but it also promotes muscle growth.