The Texas Method – A Review
Simple and effective are probably the first two words that come to mind when discussing the Texas Method. Based around a 3 day per week training split, with one day meant for volume, one day meant for a lighter, recovery session and one meant for intensity. The aim here is to drive improvements around the ‘big four’ compound movements:
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
Now I have seen many different online templates of the Texas method and one I have run looks something like the below.
Volume day always follows the same methodology, but the Recovery day will obviously have specific hypertrophy or bodyweight focused lifts that will improve an athlete’s weak points.
The Intensity day is where you hit PR’s, usually based off your 5RM in powerlifting circles and your 3RM in Olympic weightlifting circles. The challenge is finding the ideal lifts to fit into this program, as you don’t have much space to do so.
But a template of the Texas Method could look something like this:
Day 1: Volume Day
Back Squat: 5(5) (90% of day 5)
Bench Press: 5(5)
Day 2: Recovery Day
Back Squat: 2(5)
Bench Press / Shoulder Press: 3(5)
Reverse Hypers: 3(12)
Lat Raises: 3(12)
Day 3: Intensity Day
Back Squat: PR 5RM attempt
Bench / Shoulder Press: 5RM PR attempt (depending on which one you ran on Day 1)
Power Clean / Power Snatch: 5(3)
*This particular variation of the Texas Method is tailored towards someone with a weaker back and posterior chain, hence the use of reverse hypers. Obviously these machines are not always available, but I would add in some RDL’s if it wasn’t possible to reverse hyper. Lat raises are to maintain a strong shoulder, improve mobility and prevent injury, which given the focus on the Bench Press is a strong possibility
Interestingly this program was designed by an Olympic weightlifting coach called Glenn Pendlay and based on Mark Rippetoes ‘Starting Strength Novice Progression’ program.
Novice strength progression is always run in a simple linear format which you can find out more about in my post on Periodisation.
According to Mark Rippetoe, it’s more suited to intermediate athletes with around 18-24 months experience. So you could run something like the 5 | 3 | 1 as a beginner athlete, then progress on to the Texas Method.
Benefits of the Texas Method
The TM gives the athlete enough time for recovery, it’s level of specificity has increased from a more traditional periodised linear program and the muscles worked are all absolutely crucial to powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting success, so there’s very little ‘wasted’ effort.
Plus, and I can’t stress this enough, the concept of hitting PR’s and being successful every week is ingrained deep into the human mind. If every Friday you’re hitting a 5 rep PR and following that up on a Monday, it’s mentally an incredibly rewarding program.
Given powerlifting in particular is intensely draining mentally, you need to find a way to reduce anxiety. PR’s are a great way to do so.
Cons of the Texas Methods
However I don’t think there’s nearly enough hypertrophy work involved for anything other than top level intermediate athletes.
There’s very little chance to work on your weak points, so unless your novice lifting career has been well coordinated, then you’re going to struggle to adapt and reach sticking points fairly quickly.
I am also a huge proponent of utilising significant hypertrophy and explosive plyometric work, which this program doesn’t account for.
There’s no doubt the Texas Method will make you stronger, but will it make you more explosive and promote speed strength? The lack of explosive plyos and band / chain work that you get from something like the Conjugate method, in my mind means no.
I also am a huge advocate of hard work. Nothing teaches hard work like additional training days and repetitions. I am not saying that you should be in the gym every day, but to be an elite level lifter I think 4 days is an absolute minimum.
You need to be going through the process and to use a boxing analogy, ‘get rounds in the bag.’ The Texas method doesn’t lend it self well to technical proficiency which you can get away with more in powerlifting, but could this ever be an efficient Olympic weightlifting program? Again, not in my opinion.
Other considerations of the Texas Method
Now there are other issues with this particular approach. Day 1, including warmups and rest between sets can take much longer period than the other days. Almost two hours!!!
On top of this I don’t think days 2 and 3 provide enough volume to increase muscle growth or overall intensity.
My solution (from an Olympic weightlifting POV) would be to add in some more technical variations of the lift(s), especially given the Deadlift is only trained once here. In my opinion without adding in additional sets on another or some snatch grip or clean pulls, you won’t progress.
It can be tricky to manage progress, as it’s a very fine line between over-exertion and progression.
Day 1 (Volume Day) needs enough volume + intensity to simulate growth as the rest of the week doesn’t provide a huge amount of that.
Whereas day 3 (Intensity Day) must provide an adequate intensity and a PR to ensure the next Volume Day is an improvement on the previous.
Fatigue management is an essential skill to learn and pushing your body to it’s ‘proper’ limits whilst allowing for adequate recovery is a skill learnt with time.
Also within the above program, if you’re a powerlifter or you’re looking to become one, then there should be no focus on clean or snatch variations. Instead of doing a power clean, replace it with banded or chain deadlift to improve your explosive power and speed.
Or equally a paused deadlift as all have a much greater specificity to your sport of choice and will transfer across to your 1RM Deadlift much better. This Westside manual should help you learn more about speed strength.
Again from an Olympic weightlifting standpoint, the overhead press doesn’t hold a huge amount of relevance. This would be the ideal opportunity to substitute the Jerk (and variations), using the close grip bench press to train tricep lockout instead- it’s a greatly under-used accessory movement in my opinion with great specificity.
It can be easy to plateau on a solely 5×5 based program in my experience. There has to be some form of daily undulating periodisation.
The day 2 (recovery day) wouldn’t be a recovery day as such for me. I would add in 2 waves of 3 on Front Squats at 70-75-80% and then 75-80-85% of your 3RM.
Front squatting is essential for clean progression, quad development and excellent from an athletic standpoint. This should provide enough additional stimulus to promote leg strength and power whilst being able to reach a new 5 Rep PR on Day 3 – then some box jumps wouldn’t go amiss for GPP work.
Olympic weightlifting is based upon repetition after repetition, exercise selection and power / explosive speed strength. I don’t think the Texas Method is ideal for Olympic weightlifting, as it doesn’t promote technique.
However there are substantial benefits for powerlifters who are looking to breed greater specificity in their training; who have reached their linear progression peak, then it’s a solid base to build from. What you will need to do is to find out how to program your weak point training into it.
If you’re looking for the complete guide to olympic weightlifting programming then I have you covered. But the below is how I am currently setup to run the Texas Method as a beginner – intermediate Olympic lifter, with a focus of explosive power and technique.
Example Texas Method Program
Day 1: Volume day
Back Squat: 5(5) | 90% of Intensity day PR
Clean: 4(2) | 90% of Intensity day
Clean complex: 3 sets | 75% 1RM | Hang Power Clean x 2 | Power Jerk x 3
Day 2: Power day
Front Squat: 6(3) | 2 waves | 75-80-85% + 80-85-90% 3RM
Snatch: 5(2) | 90% Intensity Day
Snatch complex: 3 sets | Low Hang Snatch | Mid Hang Snatch x 2
Box Jumps: 5(4)
Day 3: Recovery day
Clean Pull: 3(2)
Snatch Pull: 3(2)
Sots Press: 4(4)
Bench Press: 5(5) 90% 5RM
Box Jump Variation: 5(4)
Day 4: Intensity day
Back Squat: 5RM
Deadlift: 5RM attempt
This is the modified variation of the Texas method I am currently running to build explosive strength as an intermediate lifter. The main lifts are based off percentages of your intensity day and PR’ing every week is essential for the mind in my opinion.
So is the Texas method right for you?
I personally think the Texas method is a fantastic approach for an intermediate lifter who has run a linear-based program and has plateaued on their current cycle. It breeds mental toughness and a mental toughness that comes with prioritising the main lifts.
It’s specific, intense and carries enough volume to help build strength and size. My criticisms are that it doesn’t teach an athlete to work hard enough or improve their technique – however if you ran my modified variation above with an additional day, that should no longer be a problem.