The Worst Program in the World that Works

What is “The Texas Method?” Initially developed by the Wichita Falls Athletic Club Olympic Weightlifting Team, The Texas Method was born from a desire to avoid work. Lifters that didn’t want to complete all of their squat sets on Friday were offered a chance to skip them if they completed a new 5 rep max. Over time, it was observed that the lifters that were performing 5RMs each week were making more progress than those that weren’t. Thus, the Texas Method was born.

At its core, The Texas Method is a weekly linear progression model with a volume day, a light day, and an intensity day. The most famous version of this framework is known for its volume day: Monday’s five sets of five of squats and an upper body lift followed by a power variant pull. Wednesday’s light day is usually 80% of Monday’s weight and intended to facilitate recovery, avoid detraining, while adding total work sets for the week to the squat, the alternate upper body lift, and additional light pulling volume. The training week finishes with an intensity day that features a new 5RM on all three major lifts: squat, bench and/or press, and deadlift.

The program is famous for the perceived difficulty as the weight increases each week and quickly challenges the lifter on both volume and intensity day. Strict adherence to the basic template won’t effectively drive progress for long. The Texas Method – one volume day, one light day, and one intensity day – however – is very flexible and, used intelligently, can drive progress for long periods of time.

Depending on how progress stalls, different adjustments can be made to appropriately manipulate the stress. If weekly five pound jumps can no longer be sustained on volume day, for example, the set and rep scheme can be changed from 5×5 to 6×4 or even 8×3. Alternatively, intensity could be lowered and additional sets added to increase the volume. 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. A way to enable progress to continue on intensity day is to cycle rep schemes to enable weight to be increased each week. If 5 reps start to slow down or stick, progress can be resumed by cycling through 2 sets of 3, 3 sets of 2, 2 sets of 2, 5 singles, and then return back to a new 5 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.

Variants of the Texas Method

As with any program, your mileage may vary. Texas Method, in particular, requires optimal recovery conditions to sustain progress, which means that following the original program, as written, probably isn’t a great idea if you are over 40. However, following a weekly system of volume, light, and intensity days can work for master lifters as well; as long as the total stress of the program is reduced to a manageable level. If you’re not able to prioritize training and recovery in your life right now, this is probably not the program for you. But, if you’ve got the time and resources to invest in hard training, it can product excellent results.

A word of caution: we highly recommend having a coach to help you through the application of The Texas Method. This is not a good program to follow as a basic template. Many lifters have vilified The Texas Method because they needlessly adhere to an oversimplified version of the method. Don’t be that guy endless grinding out reps on Texas Method because you heard that all you have to do is add five more pounds. Get a coach so that you have effective guidance from someone that can provide support and customize the details to you with logic and nuance.

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