By: Barbell Logic Team

Two of the most popular programs for post-novice lifters are the Texas Method and Heavy Light Medium. There tends to be some confusion about what these programs look like, how they are different, and how they’ve changed over time. Here’s a short breakdown of the Texas Method. Next week we will take a look at Heavy Light Medium and how these two programming frameworks go together.

Texas Method Variations

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The Texas Method comes from the Wichita Falls Athletic Club and it incentivizes regular, weekly PRs. In its most basic form, the Texas Method is marked by a “Volume Day” at the beginning of the week (Monday, if the lifter is lifting on an M-W-F schedule) and an “Intensity Day” at the end of the week (Friday). Traditionally, the volume day is five sets of five across, making volume day an extremely stressful and often very long workout. The intensity day is a “Rep Max” effort for the day—most typically a 5RM, 3RM, or 1RM effort. The actual volume on volume day and the prescribed rep range on intensity day will vary with the individual. The important aspect of the program is the break up of the stress (volume & intensity) and the structure that targets weekly PRs.

As an early intermediate program, the most basic Texas Method template might look something like the following:

Traditional Texas Method

Week

Volume Day (Monday)

Light Day (Wednesday)

Intensity Day (Friday)

1
Squat 

5 x 5 @ 90% of Intensity Day

Press 

5×5 @ 90% of Intensity Day 

Barbell Row

3×8 

Squat 

5 x 5 @ 80% of Volume Day

Bench Press 

3×5 @ 85% of Volume Day

Chin-ups

3 x AMRAP 

Squat 

5RM

Press 

5RM

Deadlift

5RM

2
Squat 

5 x 5 @ 90% of Intensity Day

Bench Press 

5×5 @ 90% of Intensity Day 

Barbell Row

3×8 

Squat 

5 x 5 @ 80% of Volume Day

Press 

3×5 @ 85% of Volume Day

Chin-ups

3 x AMRAP

Squat 

5RM

Bench Press 

5RM

Deadlift

5RM

There exist some useful adaptations to the basic Texas Method that preserve the weekly PR chase while better meeting different types of lifters’ needs. Matt Reynolds popularized a version of the Method that uses a less stressful volume day, which he has called the Old Man Texas Method:

Old Man Texas Method

Week

Volume Day (Monday)

Light Day (Wednesday)

Intensity Day (Friday)

1
Squat 

3 x 5

Press 

3 x 5

Barbell Row

3 x 8 

Light Squat

3 x 5

Bench Press

3 x 5

Deadlift

1 x 5

Chin-ups

3-5 x AMRAP

Squat

5RM

Press

3RM

Barbell Row

3 x 8

2
Squat 

3 x 5

Bench Press 

3×5

Barbell Row

3×8 

Light Squat 

3 x 5

Press 

3 x 5

Deadlift

1 x 5

Chin-ups

3- 5 x AMRAP

Squat 

5RM

Bench Press 

3RM

Barbell Row

3 x 8

 

Another common variation on the original program is to turn the traditionally three-day program into a 4-day split:

4-Day Texas Method

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

Friday

Squat (Intensity)

1×5

Deadlift (Volume)

3×5

GHRs

4 x amrap

Bench Press (Intensity)

1×5

Press (Volume)

5×5

Chins

4 sets amrap

Dips or Rolling Dumbbell Ext.

4 sets amrap/ or 4×10

Deadlift (Intensity)

1×5

Squat (Volume)

5×5

GHRs

4 x amrap

Press (Intensity)

1×5

Bench Press (Volume)

5×5

Barbell Rows

4×8

Dips or Rolling Dumbbell Ext.

4 sets amrap/ or 4×10

 

What gives the Texas Method its utility is the judicious timing of its implementation. Note the weekly PRs of the Texas Method. This complements the wrapping up of a traditionally run Novice Linear Progression (NLP) very well. In that program, a lifter typically moves from hitting PRs for three sets of five repetitions every workout to bookend PRs at the beginning and end of the week with a lighter day in-between. There are different ways to run out the NLP. One way is to take volume away from the end of the week while continuing to drive up the intensity, moving from 3 x 5 one week to 2 x5 and then to 1 x 5. While you do this, you add volume to the beginning of the week while dropping the intensity of the work, moving from 3 x 5 to 4 x 5 at a 5% drop in the load (for example) to 5 x 5 while the work at the end of the week increases. (For a clear example of this read Matt Reynolds article on Minimum Effective Dose Programming.)

During this transition, the goal does not change as the lifter moves from the NLP to the Texas Method. The lifter is continually trying to hit PRs. This means that the weight on the bar continually goes up, preserving the “linear” nature of the lifter’s progress for as long as possible. This shape of the program won’t last forever, but it can last for a very long while with careful application of the basic principles: Increasing overall stress drives progress as measured by the increasing intensity at the end of the week.

As with any program, you need to know not only what it looks like in a snapshot, but also how the program changes and adapts to the lifter’s needs. For the volume day, the weight should continually increase. But, you won’t be able to add five pounds to your volume day every week, forever. Eventually, you will stall. 

Depending on how your progress stalls, you can make different adjustments. Your goal should be to continually increase stress. If you started out on an Old Man Texas Method volume day of 3 x 5, a simple way to increase the training stress is to drop the weight a little bit from your stall and add a set of volume, increasing the work from three sets to four sets of five. Rinse and repeat until you are lifting the more traditional 5 sets of 5 reps on your volume day. Alternatively, the set and rep scheme can be changed from 5×5 to 6×4 or even 8×3 as the weight on the bar continues to increase. Whatever the adjustment, the critical component of the stress is volume and should be the focus of the program for that day.

The other sticking point may be on intensity day. Cycling rep schemes can help maintain progress on intensity day, enabling you to increase the weight on the bar each week. If five reps (1 x 5) start to slow down or stick, progress can be resumed by cycling through two sets of three (2 x 3), three sets of two (3 x 2), two sets of two (2 x 2 ), five singles (5 x 1), and then return back to a new five-rep max. The critical component on this day is to make sure the intensity (or actual weight on the bar) continues to go up over time. Ideally, you would set a new PR every Friday. Then, once this option no longer drives progress, adding back off sets to increase total volume for the week may help unstick progress.

The amount of variation in this method means that there are a lot of individual considerations that you need to take into account when making changes. Poorly timed implementation and mindless adherence to the most basic template will usually result in poor results. We recommend having a coach to help you through the Texas Method.

Consider that the Texas Method is one application of a larger effective programming framework, a framework built on the principle that intermediate lifters tend to do well when their training stress cycles throughout the week between high-stress, lower stress, and medium stress elements. This larger framework, known as Heavy Light Medium, has almost endless arrangements each of which is right for the right lifter at the right time in his or her training. The Texas Method is one of these permutations and should be used with care.

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