5×5 MadCow Routine

5×5 MadCow Routine

Strength training is based on achieving improved points or goals, i.e. physical performance aimed at lifting as much weight as possible. To do so, there are various training programs and routines. Today, we’re going to explain a method to increase our strength: the 5×5 MadCow routine

5×5 Routine

The name of the routine hasn’t been chosen at random, it refers precisely to the number of repetitions and sets performed on training days.

Before starting the method, its essential we know our points in the basic exercises. To do this, we’ll have to perform an MR Test

The MadCow routine prioritises squat training, which we need to know how to do correctly.

5×5 Strength Routine

In a 5×5 strength routine, we’re aiming to use a relatively high weight (starting with 5MR = 5 Maximum Repetitions) as well as a high frequency (number of times we train per week), which is usually 3.

This means that we’re going to do, do example, squat workouts 3 times a week

Unlike an aesthetics-oriented routine, when we work on strength, we change the focus of the training, becoming less varied (we rely on basic exercises) but more repetitive. It’s also normal to have as a rule one day off between sessions.

5×5 Training

5×5 training means doing a 180º turn from any type of conventional training

Those accustomed to a training method where aesthetics are a priority, and have resultantly been performing divided routines, or even Torso-Leg or Full-Body, will notice the biggest change.

The rests between sets of each exercise should be sufficiently long to allow for a complete recovery.

Let’s not forget that we’ll be working with a high intensity, in terms of the workload, so we’ll be using the energetic store of the phosphagens system, and our aim therefore is to leave the necessary time to resynthesise ATP.

Work tools

“Work Tools”

Even so, performing several training phases during the year (mesocycles), or what is known as the periodisation of training, will mean taking a further step in our progress and managing to continue improving and reducing cases of stagnation and lack of motivation, in addition to being reflected both in our body composition, and of course, strength gains

5×5 Method

The 5×5 method we’re looking at is a linear progression, that is, every week we’ll be adding weight to the previous one.

Knowing our MR will mean knowing how strong we are at that moment and under certain conditions, however, obtaining an exact value of this variable is usually quite complex, so it’s recommended to know our 5MR, that is, the heaviest set in which we can perform 5 repetitions.

5×5 Strength Routine

The strength routine includes the exercises conducive to maximum development and construction of strength: the basic exercises. This term alludes to their functionality, as for their execution they activate of a large number of muscle groups.

  • The Basic Exercises are the: Squat, Dead Lift, Bench Press and Military Press.
  • Accessory or auxiliary exercises: as specified in the routine, will be done in set such as Pull-ups, Lifts, Ab Work

5×5 Strength Training

The key to strength training is weekly progression by maintaining a low workload to avoid becoming fatigued or reaching a very fast plateau, which nevertheless allows us to set new records every week.

If we’re not capable of increasing the load one week, we can try again the week after.

The stimulus will be achieved by giving frequency to the training and progressively increasing the workload within feasible terms producing long-term results.

Madcow 5×5

  • Exercises: The MadCow routine is a variation of the Stronglifts routine, but instead of doing all the exercises, greater emphasis is placed on the squat, although we’ll use the: bench press, military press, dead lift and Bar Row.
  • Progressive increments: 2.5%
  • Progression margin: scaling your weight during the first 3-4 weeks is recommended to avoid hitting your limit. This means that in the first week of our 1×5 [5MR] sets, instead of using the 5MR, we subtract a percentage of 10-12%..
  • Ascending Sets*: we apply percentages on the 1×5 sets, in the -> 1×5 [60%] + 1×5 [70%] + 1×5 [80%] + 1×5 [90%] mode. Next we’ll look at an example.
  • Training frequency: 3 days a week: can be distributed according to preference (M-W-F or M-T-Sa), but you should rest 1 day between training sessions
  • Duration: minimum 8 weeks
  • Weekly schedule
Squat :5×5Squat ::4×5Squat ::4×5, 1×3, 1×8
Bench Press ::5×5Military Press ::4×5Bench Press ::4×5, 1×3, 1×8
Bar Row ::5×5Dead Lift ::4×5Bar Row ::4×5, 1×3, 1×8
Accessory 1Accessory 3Accessory 4
Accessory 2Accessory 5


  • Day 1: We do 4 sets of 5 repetitions de *Ascending Sets to reach the heavy sets 1×5 [5MR]
  • Day 2: The first 3 sets are identical to Day 1, and in the fourth we repeat the third. For the Military Press and Dead Lift we do 4 sets of 5 repetitions of Ascending Sets
  • Day 3: The 4×5 are identical to Day 1; the 1×3 is 2.5% greater than the 1×5 of Day 1; the 1×8 uses the weight of the third set of the 4×5


Day 1 -> we’re planning our 5MR = 100kg, sp

  • Ascending Sets -> 1×5 [60kg] + 1×5 [70kg] + 1×5 [80kg] + 1×5 [90kg]
  • Objective Sets -> 1×5 [100kg]

Day 3 -> 1×3 we do with 102.5kg (increasing by 2.5%). In this sense, in the 1×5 of the next Day 1, we’ll use the 102.5kg. And so on.

Accessory Exercises
Accessory 1::2×15 Weighted Hypers
Accessory 2::4×10 Weighted Sit Ups
Accessory 3::Accumulate 3mins of Isometric Plank
Accessory 4::3×5-8 Chest Dips with Ballast
Accessory 5::3 Supersets of 10x Bicep Curls + 10x Tricep Extensions


  1. http://stronglifts.com

Related Entries

  • Strength Mesocycle
  • Differences between a Strength and Hypertrophy Routine
  • More Strength, Greater Resistance
Review of 5x5 MadCow Routine

Results - 100%

Effectiveness - 100%

Strength gains - 100%

Improving body composition - 100%


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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
Under the motto “Knowledge Makes me Stronger”, Javier Colomer clearly expresses his intentions to share his knowledge and experience within the world of Fitness. His BPT training system is proof of this.
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