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Madcow 5×5 Calculator

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The Madcow 5×5 calculator is a digital tool designed to simplify the process of planning and tracking workouts for individuals following the Madcow 5×5 strength training program. This program, known for its structured approach to increasing strength over time, requires lifters to gradually increase the weight they lift in a systematic manner. Unlike straightforward programs that add a fixed amount of weight each session, the Madcow 5×5 incorporates a weekly progression that takes into account the lifter’s performance, making it essential to recalculate lifts regularly.

Purpose and Functionality

The primary purpose of the Madcow 5×5 calculator is to help lifters accurately determine the weights they should be lifting each week, based on their current strength levels and the program’s progression scheme. The calculator uses the lifter’s current 5-rep maxes (5RMs) for key lifts such as the Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Overhead Press, and Barbell Row as the starting point.

The program’s structure is divided into three main workouts per week:

  • Monday (Heavy Day): Lifters perform sets at increasing percentages of their 5RM, culminating in a single set of 5 at their 5RM.
  • Wednesday (Light Day): This day involves lighter sets, typically around 80% of Monday’s heavy set, to facilitate recovery.
  • Friday (Medium Day): The goal is to slightly exceed Monday’s 5RM, aiming for a new 5RM with a small increment.

Each week, the lifter adds a small amount of weight to their 5RM for the next Monday’s workout. The typical increments are about 2.5% or 5 pounds for upper body lifts and 5-10 pounds for lower body lifts.


To calculate the weights to be used in the Madcow 5×5 program, you would typically follow these steps:

Initial Setup

  1. Determine Your 5-Rep Maxes (5RM): Identify your current 5-repetition maximum for each of the key lifts: squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and barbell row. This is the maximum weight you can lift for 5 consecutive repetitions with proper form.
  2. Calculate Starting Weights: The program often starts with weights that are a percentage of your 5RM to avoid overtraining and ensure proper progression. For example, you might start the program using 90% of your 5RM for each lift.

Weekly Progression

  1. Incremental Increases: Each week, you add a small amount of weight to each lift to ensure continuous progression. The typical increment is about 2.5% to 5% of your 5RM, depending on the lift and your personal progression.

Workout Structure

  1. Varied Sets and Reps: Although the program is known as a 5×5, it varies the sets and reps for different exercises and on different days. For instance, Monday might focus on heavier sets of 5, Wednesday on lighter sets for recovery, and Friday on ramping sets leading to a single heavier set of 5.
  2. Ramping Sets: For the main lifts on Monday and Friday, weights are “ramped” up leading to the final set. This means starting with a lighter weight for the first set and increasing the weight with each subsequent set until the final set is at the maximum weight for that day.

Example Calculation

If your 5RM for the squat is 300 lbs, and you’re starting the program at 90% of your 5RM:

  • Starting Weight for Squats: 90% of 300 lbs = 270 lbs
  • Week 1, Monday: You might do 5 sets of squats, with the weight increasing each set, ending with 270 lbs for your final set.
  • Week 2, Monday: Increase your final set by 5 lbs (a typical weekly increment for squats), so the new final set would be 275 lbs.

Step by Step Examples

Let’s consider a lifter whose current 5RMs are as follows:

  • Squat: 300 lbs
  • Bench Press: 200 lbs
  • Deadlift: 350 lbs

For Week 1, the calculator would suggest the following:


  • Squat progression: 240 lbs x 5, 255 lbs x 5, 270 lbs x 5, 285 lbs x 5, 300 lbs x 5
  • Bench Press and Deadlift would follow a similar structure, with Deadlift typically having only one top set of 5.

Wednesday (Light Day):

  • Squat: 240 lbs x 5 as a lighter set, with other exercises adjusted similarly.

Friday (Medium Day):

  • Squat: A new 5RM attempt at 305 lbs x 5.

Information Table

WeekDaySquat (lbs)Bench Press (lbs)Deadlift (lbs)
1Monday240 x 5, 255 x 5, 270 x 5, 285 x 5, 300 x 5Similar StructureOne top set of 5
1Wednesday240 x 5 (80% of Monday’s heavy set)Lighter SetsLighter Sets
1Friday305 x 5 (New 5RM attempt)Exceed Monday’s 5RMExceed Monday’s 5RM


The Madcow 5×5 calculator is an invaluable resource for anyone following the Madcow 5×5 strength training program. By providing a clear and easy-to-follow guide for weekly weight progression, the calculator eliminates guesswork and ensures lifters can focus on what matters most: lifting and making consistent progress. Its benefits extend beyond simple convenience, aiding in injury prevention by ensuring that weight increases are gradual and sustainable. Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or just starting, incorporating this calculator into your routine can significantly enhance your training effectiveness and help you achieve your strength goals more efficiently.

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