Madcow 5×5 Spreadsheet

Updated:

4m read

Updated:

4m read

Here’s the official Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet v3 updated for 2024.

  • It calculates your starting weights
  • It automatically adds weight each week
  • It adjust your weights if you miss reps

Tap the button below to download it for free:

Download spreadsheet

Let me show you how to use the spreadsheet for Madcow 5×5.

Copy the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet

The Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet is hosted on Google Sheets. Before you can edit this file, you need to make a copy for yourself.

  1. Open the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet
  2. Tap “File” in the top right corner
  3. Tap “Make a copy”

Like this:

Copy the Madcow 5x5 spreadsheet

This will copy the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet to your Google Drive. After that you can use it like this…

  1. Go to your Google Drive
  2. Open your copy of the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet
  3. Use that spreadsheet to calculate your weights

Don’t request access to edit my Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet. If I did that, everyone would use the same sheet. Someone else would overwrite your data, making the spreadsheet unusable for all of us.

Make a copy of the spreadsheet for your own use.

How the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet looks

Here’s a screenshot of the main workout area…

Madcow 5x5 spreadsheet overview

Your weights automatically increase every week. Your starting weights are calculated based off your best lifts. Here’s how to enter them in your copy of the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet…

Enter your best lifts

Start by calculating your starting weights for Madcow 5×5.

You do this by entering your best lifts in the spreadsheet. These should be lifts you’ve done in the past 3-4 weeks (not a year ago or so).

  1. Select lb or kg in C15-19
  2. Enter how much weight you lifted in D15-D19
  3. Enter how for how many reps you lifted that weight in E15-E19.
  4. Enter the RPE for that set – how many more reps you could have done (0=10RPE, 1=9RPE, 2=8RPE, 3=7RPE).

Like this…

Enter your best lifts in the Madcow 5x5 spreadsheet.

Your spreadsheet does two things with that information:

  • Estimate your one rep max at RPE10 – how much weight you could lift for one rep if you’d go all out.
  • Estimate your five rep max at RPE9 – how much weight you could lift for 5 reps with one rep left in the tank.

Those two estimates show in the gray cells G15-H19.

Estimate your five rep max with the Madcow 5x5 spreadsheet.

Don’t change the gray cells G15-H19. If you do, your spreadsheet will break. It needs this data to calculate your starting weights.

Leave the default settings at first

The Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet has three settings you can change:

  • Increments: how much weight you add per week (5lb is 2.5/side). Bench, Overhead Press and Row default to smaller increments because these lifts use smaller muscles.
  • On-ramp: how many weeks it takes to match your previous best. This is set to 4 weeks by default. Shorter on-ramps will not make you stronger faster but plateau faster.
  • Set intervals: the size of the weight jumps between sets. Smaller intervals add more hard sets and increase the volume. This makes each Madcow 5×5 workout harder.

These settings are in the yellow cells I15-K19.

Change the Madcow 5x5 progression settings.

The most common reasons for plateaus are increasing the increments and decreasing the on-ramp. Best is to leave the default settings the first time you do Madcow 5×5. Don’t change them.

Automatic weight calculation

The Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet automatically increases your weights for you each week. It also adjusts the weights if you fail to complete your reps.

Example:

Calculate your weights with the Madcow 5x5 spreadsheets.

Here’s what happened:

  1. You Squatted 5x300lb on set five of week 11 (cell Y30, Z30).
  2. In week 12 you add 5lb and do 5x305lb. But you only get three reps instead of five (3x305lb – cell AA30, AB30).
  3. In week 13 the weight doesn’t increase but repeats. You get another try with 5x305lb (cell AC30, AD30).

The Stronglifts app does the same calculations for you when you do Madcow 5×5. And it does it a lot better than this spreadsheet.

Replacing Madcow 5×5 Exercises

You can easily replace any Madcow 5×5 exercise that you can’t or don’t want to do (due to lack of equipment or existing pains).

Just tap on any of the exercises in the cells B16-B20 of the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet. You’ll get a list of alternative exercises.

Replace Madcow 5x5 exercises

You can find videos of all these exercises in the Stronglifts app. Just go to start workout – tap the exercise – tap replace. You’ll find the same exercises with videos that you can review during your workout.

Madcow 5×5 Spreadsheet vs Stronglifts app

Everyone used this spreadsheet until we added support for Madcow 5×5 to the Stronglifts app. It was our most requested feature and took a lot of work. But we did it and now the spreadsheet is obsolete.

The Stronglifts app does everything the spreadsheet does but better. It also does a lot more than the spreadsheet. Compare…

FeatureSpreadsheetStronglifts App
Starting weight calculator
Workouts planned for you
Automatic weight increase
Repeat weight if fail
Warmup calculator
Plate calculator
Rest timer between sets
Workout duration timer
Progress graphs weights
Progress graphs volume
Log with Apple watch
Exercise videos
Exercise instructions
Add assistance work
Log any program
Ease of use★ ★ ★ ★☆ ★ ★ ★ ★★

If you print the spreadsheets, you better be good at math. You’ll need to calculate how much weight to add on each side of the bar. Madcow 5×5 uses ramp sets – different weights per set. That’s a lot of math on every set, every exercise and every workout. If you get it wrong and add 10lb too much, that will mess with your progress.

The Google Sheets app is a pain to use. It’s made for accounting on a big screen, not logging workouts on a phone. The cells are hard to tap. You need to zoom in and out all the time. There’s no rest timer. If you have bad internet, your workout sheet won’t load.

The Stronglifts app was made for lifting. Logging sets only takes a tap. The rest timer notifies you for your next set. You don’t need to switch between half a dozen apps during your workout. Everything you need is in the same app – warmup, plate calculator, history, graphs, history, videos, etc. It’s much easier to use than Google Sheets.

Read: how to log Madcow 5×5 with Stronglifts

Other workout apps don’t create your Madcow 5×5 workouts for you. Nor do they add weight automatically. You have to do that yourself. This wastes time better spent lifting and makes mistakes more likely. Some have tried copying us but got it wrong becuase they don’t understand how Madcow 5×5 works (they’re programmers not lifters).

Use the Stronglifts app to log your Madcow 5×5 workouts. If that’s not an option for you, then use the Madcow 5×5 spreadsheet.

Written by Mehdi Hadim

Lifter, coach and author. I have over 25 years of experience lifting weights, and 17 years of experience coaching people. Before I started lifting, I was so weak I couldn't do a single pushup and even lost armwrestling to a girl. Since then I've Squatted 440lb, Deadlifted 500lb and competed in powerlifting. In that process I gained 45lb of muscle. Read my story.

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