T Nation

Splitting 5x5 into Upper/Lower


For example, Friday of Madcow requires Squat, Bench, and Row for 4x5, a triple, and a back off set. Plus BB extensions, BB curls, and dips for 3 sets each. Throw in a light warm up and foam rolling, and this is a 2+ hour workout. This isn't optimal and limits conditioning possibilities as well.

Give me you're reasons why it may not be a good idea to split up the 3 day/week program into a 6 day upper/lower split.

Texas Method Example:
S - Lower, Volume
M - Upper, Volume

T - Lower, Light
W - Upper, Light

Th - Lower, Intensity
F- Upper, Intensity


A reason not to split the program up into 6 days? It's a waste of gas and time, besides why mess with a program with a high success rate like madcow? The beginning sets are kind of warm-up/transition sets anyway. How many additional warm-ups do you usually do? Does foam rolling count as time in your workout? Personally I completed the program in April, none of my workouts came anywhere near 2 hours. 70 minutes tops and I completed almost every prescribed rep and set for every exercise except bench press.
But whatever you decide to do, good luck.


Focus on less rest time. From beg. To end. Speeds up the workout and conditions better. No rest between warmup sets or when switching exercises. 1 min. Timed rest between working sets.


This is not about me, but the program. I don't want to justify why this takes two hours. All I'm asking is an objective look at this option.

Sometimes the quality of the work is more important than how quickly you finish.


For some reason it's called MAD COW


Why not just make it a M-T--TH-F split. Take out the Light days. It's practically pointless. And if you can, grab the Texas Method book by Justin Lascek.


I can see the benefit of being full energy for each excersize on a split vs. Bac k to back on a fullbody.


I love madcow, do you have a log? I'd love to follow along


Thank you everyone who has taken time to answer so far. I appreciate your input.

Texas Method isn't a program, it's just a concept of alternating volume, light, and intensity days. The Madcow routine was just an example of a typical 5x5 day (with 27 work sets O_O).

Nah, actually it's called "Madcow" without the space.

Haven't thought about that. I have found Lascek's books incredibly helpful and insightful, especially with assistance work and alternate lifting schedules (but no mention of upper/lower the way I've laid it out). But I thought it said something about Wednesday being more than just a "light day" by practicing the lift and drilling motor patterns? Also, Bench and OHP alternate every week. So without the extra practice on "light day" you could be going 10 days without benching. What do you think?

Does a paper log count? lol. I did it for 6 weeks, Bench first stalled at week 3 (current PRs were set at week 4, so I got weaker), and Squat stalled on week 6. This is why I'm working on a more intelligently planned TM program.


The core of the program is the big lifts, so first off the assistance work can be programmed however you want. you can do supersets to make it shorter, or even omit them completely.

As for the main work, the 4x5 sets are just ramping so i would rest as little as possible during those and it really shouldn't take that long to get up to the triples. i would also omit the light general warm up because the ramped sets should satisfy that purpose after the triple i would do the back off set right away, then start setting up the next exercise


If you split TM, you drop the light day.


A forum on the starting strength website suggested doing it like this:

M- Heavy squat, power cleans 5x3
T- Heavy OHP, bench 5x5
TH- Heavy deadlift, squat 5x5
F- Heavy deadlift, squat 5x5


I did generally rest as little as possible for the 4x5 ramp, and I did do the back off set as fast as I possibly could change the weight. I don't have an unlimited number of 10# and 5# plates, so it always took at least 1 minute between sets to get back into position. Squats I needed to take longer rests for the top few sets. 90% of your 5 rep max is still an ass kicker. I guess I could do without the general warm up, but foam rolling I can not.

So there is the issue of not benching if it's OHP week. Doesn't that change anything?


You can choose to do it a few different ways.

Upper Volume - Bench 5x5, Press 3x5
Upper Intensity - Bench 1x5, Press 1x5

if bench is a priority.

Or you can do cycle bench and press every other week so next week would be

Upper Volume - Press 5x5, Bench 3x5
Upper Intensity - Press 1x5, Bench 1x5

or you can do as another poster mentioned and do

Bench Heavy, Press Volume
Press Heavy, Bench Volume

many ways to set it up


Why do you think you stalled?


Thanks for all the advice. As for why I stalled, I took the common precautions to prevent it. I put my current PRs at week 4 and made sure I was putting on weight. Perhaps I have been training in the 5 rep range for too long, or playing sports 2-3 days a week didn't allow for recovery, or maybe I'm just not an intermediate in which case the tonnage was too high or the 2.5% weekly increases were too steep.

TM should allow lower overall tonnage (only one 5x5 day) and a slower Bench progression since it's paired with OHP.


Fair enough. I could see foam rolling being necessary, also time consuming because every workout is basically full body so you probably have to foam roll everything.

Nevertheless, I fundamentally disagree with splitting things up. Programs like this are really manageable if you start light enough and progress gradually enough. My understanding of the program was: on monday ramp to heavy sets of five, friday ramp to a heavy triple = mondays set of 5 + 2.5%, next week do last fridays triple for mondays top set of 5, etc. I don't recall any specific precentages for deadlifts and OHP on wed; I think there was something specific about squats on wednesday but forget.

The point is, like 5/3/1, if you initially start too heavy you can stall real quick but if you start light enough you can make steady progress for several training cycles. Also starting light makes the first weeks of workouts relatively easy so you can get used to getting them done quick. I would guess that you stalled because you initally started too heavy, and maybe overdid assistance work or deadlifts. However a conservative approach should keep you going for a while. Those are my thoughts.

FWIW, I've never done madcow, but I always liked how it looks on paper. Workouts with lots of straight sets leave me pretty run down but I feel great and make steady progress whenever I'm just ramping.


Didn't see this. This is it I bet. Do madcow in the offseason


This is the off season! I just love it soooo much.

You're understanding of the program is correct. So you're essentially hitting PRs twice a week: 3 rep PR on Friday, then 5 rep PR next Monday. A TM set up may or may not be any better, but I won't know until I try it with similar conditions and intensity.