Another spinoff of Bill Starr’s 5×5, Madcow 5×5 incorporates bodybuilder-friendly assistance work (along with lots of rows) with the fundamental Big 3 compound movements to create a simple but effective strength program. Though originally designed with bodybuilding in mind, this can be effectively utilized for off-season (read: not peaking) powerlifting training, as the linear progression and rep range complement strength gains nicely.
The advanced periodization version is also included, which is referred to as “StrongLifts Advanced” even though it’s really Madcow advanced. It is similar to Madcow intermediate, but increases the average tonnage (sets*reps*weight) of each week and includes a deload in the middle of the program.
Madcow 5×5 Intermediate Program Spreadsheet
This Madcow spreadsheet allows both 1RM and 5RM starting inputs, making it ideal for graduates of Starting Strength, Strong Lifts, or Texas Method. This program progresses linearly on a weekly basis.
Madcow 5×5 Advanced Program Spreadsheet
This is a 9 week strength program that can be run back to back.
Frequently Asked Questions about Madcow
What is the Madcow 5×5 workout program?
Madcow 5×5 is a strength training program that uses three training sessions per week to build strength. The intermediate version (which, unless otherwise noted, is the version being referred to) primarily uses linear periodization and progresses on a weekly basis, programming for a 5 rep PR in week 5, then adding additional weight from there for a number of weeks. The advanced version sets a new 5RM in week 4, deloads in week 5, then sets a new 3RM in week 9 (some other differences are noted below).
What’s the difference between the Intermediate and Advanced versions of Madcow?
There are a few primary differences between the two versions of Madcow.
Most notably, the Advanced version skips Wednesday squats after week 4, resulting in 2 squatting days per week instead of 3.
The Advanced version also has two main blocks: one higher volume, the other lower volume and higher intensity.The Advanced version programs a new 5RM (+5lb or +2.3kg) at the end of week 4, adds a deload on week 5, then programs a new 3RM at the end of the next 4 week cycle (week 9). The Intermediate version provides a 3 week “ramp” before also hitting a new 5RM on week 4, then just continues adding weight with each subsequent week, indefinitely.
If weekly progress can be made, then the intermediate version is probably more appropriate. When stalling and resets become frequent, then trying the Advanced version may be worthwhile.
Who is Madcow 5×5 effective for?
The Madcow 5×5 program is well suited for late novice and early intermediate lifters that are no longer able to progress from workout to workout, which is how good beginner programs progress. Like many strength programs, Madcow 5×5 is based around performing sets of 5 in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, though some other rep ranges are utilized too. More advanced lifters will likely find that the program progresses too quickly, while novice lifters will likely find that the program progresses too slowly.
Is Madcow 5×5 a bodybuilding program or a strength program?
Even though Madcow has its origins from a bodybuilding forum, it’s really better suited for traditional strength goals rather than strictly aesthetic goals. With that said, you can still gain muscle and lose fat while running Madcow depending on your diet.