MadCow 5×5

Hello, BurnFit enthusiasts! This is team BurnFit again!
Today, we’re diving deep into the acclaimed workout program – MadCow 5×5. Whether you’ve frequented weight training gyms, browsed online fitness forums, or even just explored our very own workout program feature tab, you’ve likely stumbled upon this compelling name. So, what does MadCow 5×5 offer to those eager to elevate their lifting game?

Let’s uncover the details.

MadCow 5×5: A Glimpse into its Origins

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the unique name ‘MadCow 5×5’? The story begins in a weight training forum. A user named ‘MadCow’ was particularly active and frequently interacted with Glenn Pendlay, gaining valuable insights from their conversations. MadCow was also known to share his extensive knowledge on

However, by 2007, he vanished from the online fitness world. While his true identity remains a mystery, the knowledge he shared has left a lasting mark. Today, the MadCow 5×5 program stands as a testament to his contributions, celebrated for its results and respected in the fitness community.

MadCow 5×5: A Fusion of Strength and Aesthetics

MadCow isn’t just about lifting heavy; it marries the principles of strength training and bodybuilding. Its design targets lifters who’ve already got their feet wet with beginner programs and are hungry for more substantial gains.

Though the “5×5” tag could mislead one into equating it with the likes of Stronglift 5×5, there’s a distinction. While Stronglift serves beginners looking for swift progression in weights, MadCow steps in as its elder, more experienced sibling, catering to the advanced segment.

MadCow 5×5 vs StrongLift 5×5

StrongLifts 5×5 and MadCow share many similarities. This is likely because MadCow is a derivative of the StrongLifts 5×5 program. One of the significant advantages of the StrongLifts 5×5 routine is that it typically results in less muscle soreness compared to a bodybuilding-style program. Moreover, it offers significant growth in the core lifts: Squat, Bench, and Deadlift (often referred to as SBD). However, its linear approach also has a clear limitation, especially for non-experts or average individuals who may find it challenging to sustain.

This is where MadCow comes into play. The distinct difference between MadCow and StrongLifts 5×5 lies in their sustainability. The MadCow routine does not adhere to the StrongLifts approach of lifting the same weight throughout a session. Instead, within a single session of MadCow, there are both warm-up sets and main sets. This allows for a progressive increase in weight within that session.

Anyone who has tried StrongLifts 5×5 knows that the program is really hard to do. It requires lifting 90% of one’s 1-repetition max (1RM) for 5 sets. Even on days when you’re feeling strong, completing 5 reps of 90% of your 1RM is not easy, and this is repeated across 5 sets. Due to the high intensity, many find it hard to maintain this routine over the long term. On the other hand, MadCow provides a more manageable approach by adjusting the weights, making it relatively easier and more sustainable over time.

In conclusion, for the average individual, MadCow might be a more sustainable choice than StrongLifts 5×5.

Unlocking the MadCow Routine

  • Frequency: Commit to three sessions weekly, ideally on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This spacing allows your muscles ample recovery time.
  • Intensity: Fridays are reserved for high-volume sets. If for any reason you shift your workout days, always remember to follow a heavy workout day with two days of rest or tone down the final volume set.
  • Weight progression: Your goal should be to amp up the weight by roughly 2.5kg to 5kg weekly. Listen to your body. If the last session felt exceptionally strenuous, recalibrate and adjust the weights. Interestingly, the weights aren’t static throughout the week. Wednesdays are purposefully lighter than Mondays to prevent overburdening muscles.

Is MadCow Right for You?

The term ‘intermediate lifter’ is relative. A general benchmark is your squat weight. If you can squat 1.5 times your body weight, you’re in the right league. So, for a 70kg person, if you’re comfortably squatting 100kg, MadCow beckons.

Distinctive Elements from StrongLift

MadCow isn’t about monotony. Unlike the traditional 5×5 pattern where you lift the same weight throughout, here, you kickstart with a substantial weight and then progressively amp it up, imitating a warm-up style. Also, the weight increments are weekly, not every session.

Establishing the Start Weight: Initiate with a weight that’s around 85% of your current one-repetition maximum (1RM). The logic behind this figure is twofold. First, the program doesn’t rigidly stick to the 1RM. Secondly, personal growth aspirations play a role, influencing when you envisage hitting that forecasted 1RM.

MadCow’s Quintessential Exercises

The program embraces


Bench Press

Barbell Row

Barbell Press


Coincidentally, these exercises mirror those in Stronglift. To ascend the strength ladder, mastering these foundational lifts is non-negotiable.

MadCow’s Signature Touch

What sets MadCow apart is the closing act of the week. Post completing the 5×5 sets on Friday, an additional set awaits you. Here, you’re tasked with lifting 75% of the weight you used for the primary sets but go all out, aiming for as many reps as possible (AMRAP). This unique twist ensures any volume deficit during the week is adequately addressed.

Final Thoughts

Gone past the novice phase in your lifting journey? Hungry for more? Eager to touch new pinnacles in your fitness expedition? It might just be time to embrace the might and magic of MadCow 5×5.

Stay strong and lift on!

FOrbes Health

Winner of Best Workout data tracking App (2022,2023)

The best Workout Analysis App

FOrbes Health

Winner of Best Workout data tracking App (2022,2023)

The best Workout Analysis App