Madcow 5×5 workout results

Here are some results achieved by Stronglifters on Madcow 5×5.

Military guy increases total by +275lb

Karl from Estonia did Madcow 5×5 for six months. His results…

Body weight249lb257lb+8lb

Video of Karl’s lifts:

Karl and I exchanged emails many times. I asked him to share more information about how Madcow 5×5 went for him.

About you:
26, from Estonia, work in military, started lifting in 2012.

How long did you do Madcow 5×5?
From June 2022 to January 2023.

What did you do before Madcow 5×5?
Stronglifts 5×5.

How did you do the program?
Incline bench -> OHP, start with deadlift on wednesday, front squats on wednesday and Mehdi’s assistance exercises. Also airbike 2x week 30min on Tuesday and Thursday, also recommended by Mehdi.

What would you do differently looking back?
Microload bench/ohp and row right away. New cycle after every 12 weeks not continue adding 2.5kg every week.

Would you recommend this program?
Absolutely, best intermediate strength program in my opinion

Advice to others?
Just keep pushing yourselves, don’t give up early because you stalled. You actually do this program much longer than you think. I’ve been running it for 6-7 months now and I’m still making gains. There have been times when you fail 1-2 workouts and then you get your 5 reps so you have to keep the effort up. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re uncertain.

My comments:

  • You can do Madcow 5×5 for longer than 12 weeks. But you’ll probably need to reset after 8-12 weeks. You can’t keep adding weight week after week forever, that won’t work.

Skeptical guy increases total by 240lb on Madcow 5×5

A skeptical guy shared his results on Madcow 5×5. He did the program for seven months with some breaks in between.

These were his results on Madcow 5×5…

Body weight175lb184lb+9lb

This guy was skeptical of Madcow 5×5. He thought the program was too simple and didn’t have enough volume. I thought the same thing when I found this program 20 years ago.

What follows is a copy-paste of their comments…

I was skeptical of the program at first…. The program seemed too simple for the kind of progress I would supposedly see at the end of the cycle….

As you can see it really helped me out in a lot of ways. I realized a lot of what was holding me back was the fear of trying heavier weights, but in Madcow you do a heavy set for 3 reps. This really helped me get the confidence to go up because mentally I did not feel like a failure for only doing 3 reps, after all that’s what the program called for.

If you are struggling and are in the newer category of weight lifting I definitely recommend Madcow. It is a fantastic program that gave me the confidence to try heavier weights and keep pushing forward.

The thing that was weird to me, but I was definitely grateful for it once I began to progress is Madcow starts you out at less than what you think you should be doing. The program calls for squats 3x a week and although it varies from medium, light , and heavy I definitely needed that adjustment period for that kid of load.

I have had to reset here and there, but ultimately I have been able to push through most of sticking points. So total time to this point has been ~7 to 8 months. Probably closer to 7…. My time frame does not match the ‘normal’ cycle length it is longer. This is because of resets and the fact I was not always able to exercise due to work and travel. So yes, the math of 7 months does not match 1.5 cycles.

Workouts took between 1 to 1.5 hrs.

I did not think it was enough volume at first especially in the first 3 weeks when you are not even at your 5 rep max yet. It is definitely enough volume for your legs from 3x squats and deadlift once per week. Chest initially I had swapped out the Wednesday to OHP and both suffered for it. I was only doing chest Monday and Friday and only 1 exercise. To fix this I changed Wednesday back to incline and included some weighted dips on each day. Other than that yes its enough volume for me which has been shown by the progress. On Fridays I am guilty of going a little crazy and throwing in the extras like curls, triceps and other exercises and recovering on the weekend.

There were a lot of times where I would complete a week and progress to the next. That week I would fail, reset that week, do it again and push through. It is why my time frame isn’t perfect. I would go 245 –> 255 (fail) –> 255 (succeed) –> 265 (fail) –> 265 (succeed) It would go back and forth a lot. Never let it get me down it is just part of the process.

TL;DR MadCow is awesome, if you are newish to intermediate in weight lifting you should try it

My comments:

  • Madcow 5×5 is not a 12 week program. It’s set up as 12 weeks as an example. If you’re still making progress and having fun, you can continue for 16 weeks or longer. Some have done that.
  • You should progress by 5lb on big lifts like Squats. That means 245 => 250 => 255. Not 245 => 255lb. If you’re getting stuck, use smaller increments so you’re less likely to plateau.

Total increases by 190lb on Madcow 5×5 while losing weight

Another guy shared his results on Madcow 5×5 in response to the results of the first guy above. He did the program for four months. Interestingly, he got stronger while losing 8lb during the first 8 weeks.

Here were his results on Madcow 5×5…

Body weight175lb175lb

What follows is a copy-paste of their comments on reddit.

I’ve been doing madcow for ~4 months now.

My lifts when I first started Madcow were 250×5 squat, 185×5 bench, 330×5 deadlift, 110×5 OHP…. I’m now at a 325×5 squat, 225×4 bench, 405×5 deadlift, 145×4 OHP, and 210×5 row. It’s an awesome program and I’ve seen a lot of gains from it.

I’ve deloaded once so far, I lasted 8 weeks and went from 175-167 over the first cycle, currently on my second cycle. The deload is to reset your lifts by 10 percent and build back up to your current prs in 4 weeks. I’m currently on my 4th week of PR’S from the second cycle. I’ve kinda f*** around with my deadlift and I’m deloading it now. My form was getting sloppy after 4 weeks additional g 10 pounds on top of my previous PR.

My bench is the biggest struggle for me but with the extra bench volume and focus on different parts of the bench, along with switching to paused bench it’s become a much more predictable lift. I do dumbell bench on A day, weighted chins on B day, close grip bench on C day.

The first cycle I lost 8 pounds. Got my squat to 280×5 bench to 200×5 deadlift to 360×5. Second cycle I’m back up to my starting weight (175) and brought my squat to 325×5, bench to 225×4, deadlift to 405×5. Total of 4 minths.

My comments:

  • Most people will struggle on Bench more than Squat and Deadlift. Bench works smaller muscles. They lift less weight and progress slower. You should expect this.
  • You don’t have to do the default assistance exercises as you can see. You can do exercises that you prefer. In this case, they did db bench and close grip bench in workout A/C. That’s fine.
  • Deadlift should progress by 5lb per week, not 10lb. Especially if you’re struggling to progress by adding 10lb – lower the increments to 5lb. You’re less likely to fail this way.
  • You don’t reset the program by deloading 10%. You take your new five rep max and put that in week four of Madcow 5×5. Let the app calculate your new starting weights.

“Big 3” total increases by 110lb on Madcow 5×5

Another guy shared his results after 8 weeks of Madcow 5×5. He was 33y old and 250lb body weight.

These were his results on Madcow 5×5…

Body weight250lb250lb

What follows is a copy-paste of their comments…

For those of you that are starting to stall on Stronglifts 5×5 or another beginner type lifting program, I want to very much recommend Madcow 5×5 as I had a great deal of success with it.

Back in September, I was running my own version of a PPL routine in which I was doing 3×5 on the compound lifts, then 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on the accessory lifts. I was starting to stall on the compound lifts, so I decided to test my 1RM and see where I was at as I wanted to be able to gauge my progress when switching over to an intermediate routine. At that time my 1RM maxes were:

  • Squat 410
  • Bench 275
  • Deadlift 415
  • Total 1,100

Ignore the fact that my deadlift was barely more than my squat…I really don’t know why. I may just be built better for squats, or perhaps my form on deadlift is lacking. Moving on…I started doing Madcow 5×5 in early October and ran the program for 8 weeks. By that point I was starting to stall on bench, push press, and deadlift (my squat was still increasing every week, but it was getting very close to the point of stalling). So I decided it would be a good time to test my 1RM again for those lifts and see how much improvement I made:

  • Squat 460
  • Bench 295
  • Deadlift 455
  • Total 1,210

For a two-month period, I was very pleased with these results. My goal was to hit a 1,200 total and I was able to exceed that by 10 pounds. Additionally, my 1RM on push press went up 15 pounds while running this program (from 220 to 235). I have never tested my maxes on rows because I personally don’t see any benefit to it.

I did the recommended accessories, however the Friday workout calls for three accessories and the Wednesday workout only calls for one. Since Wednesday is already a shorter day (only 4 sets each for DL, Press, and Squat) I decided to move one of the Friday accessories over to Wednesday. Also, if you look at how Madcow is traditionally laid out, it calls for doing incline press on Wednesdays as opposed to a shoulder press. I opted for push press instead. But still followed the same weight progressions.

…. what I really liked about Madcow was how easy it was to run. I downloaded a spreadsheet, popped in my starting weights and it gave me the entire twelve week program. What exercises to do each day, how many sets, and the precise weights to use each set. It’s very simple and doesn’t require you to think too much about what weights to use and what not. Just bring the spreadsheet with you, and you’re good to go.

I work full-time and have two young kids at home, so Madcow is a good fit for me because it only requires 3 days per week for about an hour to an hour and a half at a time.

Anyway, I couldn’t recommend this program enough. I know it may not be perfect for everyone, but I think it’s a great program for those of you looking to transition from a novice program to an intermediate one.

TL/DR: Title says it all…give Madcow 5×5 a shot

My comments:

  • Push Press instead of Overhead Press or Incline Bench is indeed okay in Madcow 5×5 workout B. The weight pushed will still be lower than what you Bench, keeping it a light day.
  • I’m skeptical of his Squat since it’s about the same as what he Deadlifts, and his Deadlift is quite strong. It’s possible that he’s not Squatting deep enough (hip crease not below the top of his knees, not breaking parallel).

350lb Squat, 275lb Bench, 405lb Deadlift

One more guy shared his Madcow 5×5 results in that same thread.


No other information so moving on.

42y old gains 65lb on Squat, 140lb on Deadlift and 90lb on Bench in five months

Stronglifter James (42y, USA) did Madcow 5×5 for five months.

Here were his results…


39y old gains 25kg on Squat, 21kg on Bench and 26kg on Deadlift in 20 weeks

Stronglifter Vlad (39y, Denmark) did Stronglifts 5×5 for six months.

He then switched to Madcow 5×5 and did the program for 20 weeks. Here were his results on Madcow 5×5…


24y old gains 20kg on Squat, 7.5kg on Bench and 10kg on Deadlift in 12 weeks

Stronglifter Lucas (24y, Netherlands) did Madcow 5×5 twice.

The first time he made the mistake of doing Madcow 5×5 when he was only Squatting 50kg. Those are beginner weights. He should have done Stronglifts 5×5 instead.

Here were his results the second time doing Madcow 5×5…

Body weight79kg84kg+5kg

Send me your Madcow 5×5 results

If you did Madcow 5×5, I’d love to hear your results. Send me an email and I’ll add you to this page.

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