The Texas Method (TM) is a strength training program renowned for its ability to provide intermediate to advanced lifters (those with 18-24+ months of continuous training according to legendary strength training coach Mark Rippetoe) with increased variety and physical adaptation. The Texas Method balances the stress of increased weight and varied volume with adequate recovery time so that intermediate lifters will progress for an extended period of time.
This training program is a very popular follow up routine after Starting Strength gains come to a halt. This routine has a proven track record, focuses on the important compound movements, and has you in the gym three days per week.
The TM came into existence through the joint efforts of Rippetoe and Olympic Weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. As the story goes, Pendlay and his lifters were working out of Rippetoe’s Wichita Falls Athletic Club. The athletes were working their way through 5 sets of 5 reps of squats on a Friday afternoon. One of his lifters started complaining about the workload for the day, so Pendlay gave him a challenge—if he could hit a PR for a set of 5, he’d only have to do one whole set for the day. Of course the athlete accepted, and proceeded to hit a 5-rep PR, simultaneously giving birth to the foundations of the TM. Instead of athletes performing 5×5 squats on Mondays and Fridays (as had been called for in the program), athletes now had to hit a PR set of 5 on Friday. Rippetoe would later bring the TM into publication through his book, Practical Programming for Strength Training, which gained plenty of attention as many athletes had found great success through Rippetoe’s novice program (Starting Strength), so they were inclined to move on to more advanced work.
The Texas Method explained
Monday: Volume Day
A. Squat 5 x 5 @ 90% of 5RM
B. Bench Press or Overhead Press 5 x 5 @ 90% 5RM
C. Deadlift 1 x 5 @ 90% 5RM
Wednesday: Recovery Day
A. Squat 2 x 5 @ 80% of Monday’s work weight
B. Overhead Press (if you bench pressed Monday) 3 x 5* or Bench Press (if OHP on Monday) 3 x 5 @ 90% previous 5 x 5 weight
C. Chin-up 3 x Bodyweight
D. Back Extension or Glute-Ham Raise 5 x 10
* at slightly lighter load than previous OHP weight
Friday: Intensity Day
A. Squat: warm-up, then work up to one single, new 5RM
B. Bench Press, (if you bench pressed Monday) or Overhead Press (if OHP on Monday): work up to one single, new 5RM
C. Power Clean or Power Snatch: 5 x 3 / 6 x 2
And that’s it! This program is brutally simplistic, but it’s worth mentioning that the TM is more of a template than a true cookie-cutter program. You’ll notice that the design of each day’s work follows a pattern. Monday calls for high volume, Wednesday uses lighter loads with the intent of giving the athlete some recovery time so that they are ready to set a new PR on Friday. The effectiveness of the TM is that it condenses the concept of ‘block periodization’ into one week. That is to say, unlike other programs that spend weeks focusing on volume, a few more weeks focusing on recovery before finally spending a week trying to hit new PR’s, the TM does the whole thing inside of a week. The variation of volume inside of a week is what makes it an ideal program for the intermediate athlete.
The TM doesn’t have a set ‘end’ date, so you can follow it for as long as you like. With that said, the TM is a hugely popular program for the intermediate athlete so give it a try for a few weeks and see how it works out for you.
Typical progression is about 5-10 pound increases weekly. Over time, this compounds into considerable progress at the intermediate stage.
“If five months of novice progression took you from a 95-pound squat at a bodyweight of 140 to a 315 x 5 squat at a bodyweight of 200, the Texas Method will take you to 405 x 5 squat at a bodyweight of 225 in a year.” – Mark Rippetoe
If hitting PR’s on Friday is starting to become more difficult, cut back on your Monday’s volume. Cutting back on the number of sets, or even lightening the weight on Monday’s workout will generally help with Friday’s progression.
If you are unable to increase the weights used on Friday, but Monday’s workout is able to be completed, you may need to change the Monday’s workout. An increase in volume (reps and sets), or simply a change in Monday’s workout will generally get you back to setting personal records. Here are some examples to help increase the stimulus from Monday’s workout:
- Adding an extra set.
- Keeping the total number of reps constant, but switching to slightly higher weight and lower reps (instead of 5×5 (25 reps) with 300 Lb, do 8×3 (24 reps) with 315 Lb).
- One or two higher rep sets after the regular sets are completed.
If regression occurs not only on Friday, but Monday as well, then Monday’s workload may be too high. A few possible solutions may be to drop a set or two, reduce the work set weight, or reduce the reps on work sets on Monday’s workout. This should help with recovery.
- Keep the reps explosive, but controlled
- Limit any assistance exercises to some brief arm work on Monday
- Pay special attention to recovery. The Texas Method will wear you out quickly if you are not eating, and sleeping properly.
- Warm up light. Start with the bar, and perfect the groove.
- Weights should be heavy, especially on Friday, but if your form is breaking down at any point, you picked a weight too heavy. Lower the weights back down.
- You can use dynamic effort on Friday and perform explosive deadlifts in place of power cleans. But remember, the deadlifts must be pulled fast.