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The Texas Method

Die Texas Methode

A brief summary....

  1. Training beginners are able to achieve rapid gains in strength and muscle mass with simple training and linear progression.
  2. The more experienced a trainee becomes, the slower their progress will be. Optimum planning of training, combined with adequate recovery, can enable an experienced exerciser to continue to make progress.
  3. The Texas Method allows for a balance of stress from heavier weights, varying volume and adequate recovery so that advanced exercisers can continue to progress over a longer period of time.
  4. The Texas Method consists of three training days per week: Mondays with high volume, Wednesdays for active recovery and Fridays with high intensity.

Youth and strength training

There are many advantages to being a young man. The problem, however, is that if you're young, you probably don't know this and you probably won't know it until it's too late to use these benefits to your advantage. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, there are some things I would do differently. I would spend more time on my math homework. I would drink better beer. I would spend less time trying to date more women and more time accomplishing things. And I would apply some of the things I've learned about working out since then to my own exercise program.

35 years later, it is now obvious that I did not use to my advantage the simple ability a young man has to push himself physically hard, recover easily from that effort, and then push himself again, thereby rapidly accumulating the effects of training and recovery in a nearly linear fashion. If I had had this wisdom back then, I would have used a simple program of squats, bench presses, overhead presses, deadlifts and deadlifts three days a week with increasing weights from session to session until I became much bulkier and stronger, or this type of training would not have resulted in any further progress.

In other words, I would have used the program I described in my book Starting Strength as long as it produced consistent, significant results. Please keep in mind that I'm not describing a program for beginners in this article - on the contrary, this is a program for advanced and experienced strength athletes. Nevertheless, I must mention a few points from Starting Strength.

The beginner effect

Young men adapt quickly when they are physically challenged, eat enough and get enough rest. I learned this simple fact from running a gym for decades, during which I showed everyone how to use barbell exercises and watched what happened to them. This is called the beginner's effect: Guys who started with a simple program, approached their training eagerly and intelligently, gained 30 to 40 pounds of useful body mass within a few months, while doubling their strength.

The beginner effect in action

The driving force behind the beginner effect is simplicity. Exercisers first added 10 pounds and then 5 pounds to their squats and deadlifts during each training session in which they used these exercises. Similarly, they first added 5 pounds and then 1, 2 or 3 pounds to each training session for bench presses, overhead presses and power cleans. They didn't do much else in the beginning - no exercises other than pull-ups and maybe a few curls. They didn't run, they didn't waste time with dumbbells and they didn't do sit-ups, planks or any exercises with a pulley, BOSI ball or similar.

But the ability to adapt so quickly and so thoroughly to a workout doesn't last long and begins to diminish the moment you start to get stronger - barely noticeable at first and then faster and faster as you approach the limits of your recovery ability after each increasingly heavy training session.

The truth about progress

The nasty, irritating fact is that the closer you get to your genetically predetermined physical limits, the harder it becomes to make progress. This is the principle of diminishing returns and we can observe this principle everywhere in nature and in our lives.

The first improvements are easy and cheap and the more advanced you want to become, the longer it takes and the more it costs. And if you don't take advantage of your opportunities when you have them, things will remain undone that you may never be able to make up for later.

Let's assume that you were wise enough to use your youth to your advantage and invested your time in five good months of linear progression. You ignored the fools who told you that undulating periodization was the way to go and you made the best, fastest and most important progress you'll ever make in the weight room. And now you're familiar enough with the potential of barbell training to be willing to put in the hard work that comes next.

What's next?

Next, of course, is more progress, but at a slower pace. You're so strong now that each training session is a strain that takes you longer to recover from. You are moving weights that are heavy enough that your weight increases occur in weekly increments rather than from training session to training session three times a week.

This means that your progress is now happening at a third of the rate it used to. It also means that your progress has the potential to continue over a longer period of time if you are diligent. Getting used to the increased loads from the increasing weights is the factor that has not only increased your strength, but has also improved your recovery ability so that you can now use a higher tonnage at a higher intensity. The fact is that it is necessary to expose the body to increasing amounts of stress at a level that tests your ability to recover so that further adaptations take place. However, as these are higher intensity efforts that are more demanding on your whole body, you need longer recovery times. If we design the program correctly, then we can plan workouts that place an optimal amount of stress on your body with an optimal pattern to maintain the adaptive drive of the program over a long period of time: A high level of tonnage stress at the beginning of the week, a lighter training session in the middle of the week to aid recovery, sometimes referred to as active recovery, and a higher intensity, lower volume training session at the end of the week. Stresses of different types and adequate recovery from these stresses must be in balance if this program is to work over an extended period of time. We call this program the "Texas Method" because we are in Texas and it is a very efficient training method that has proven itself over the years. The Texas MethodIn its basic form, the training consists of a volume day for the main exercises on Monday, a lighter recovery day on Wednesday and a higher intensity training day for the main exercises on Friday. These days can of course vary based on your schedule, but the pattern of rest days and training days is important.

Volume day Monday:

  • A.Squats 5 x 5 with 90% of 5RM
  • B. Bench press or overhead press 5 x 5 with 90% of the 5RM
  • C.Deadlift 1 x 5 with 90% of the 5RM


5 sets of 5 repetitions (with the same weight for all work sets) has proven to be the optimal combination of volume and intensity. Higher reps require a weight that is simply too light, while lower reps with a heavier weight do not provide the optimal volume and cause too much structural stress. Many people have adapted sets and reps and yet have always returned to 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight as the best pattern for long term progress.


The weight should be chosen so that all 5 sets of 5 reps can be performed without more than 8 to 10 minutes rest between sets. For most people, this amounts to 90% of the 5RM weight. So, for example, if your 5RM weight for squats is 345 pounds, your 5 x 5 squat workout on Monday would be performed with 315 pounds on the bar. The same pattern is used for bench presses and overhead presses - alternate between these exercises from Monday to Monday with 5 x 5 reps at about 90% of your 5RM weight. Deadlifts are a different story. There is no volume day for deadlifts as deadlifts push your body too hard. You will not be able to recover sufficiently if you perform more than one heavy set. This is especially true if you train squats with the 5 x 5 scheme on the same day.

Experience has shown that it is best to perform only one heavy set of deadlifts with 5 repetitions on Monday after the squat workout and bench press or overhead press. This will not be a true 5RM weight, as the deadlift will follow the squats, but the weight should increase from week to week. This makes Monday quite a bastard of a training session and that's exactly what the goal is. It sets up the rest of the week for recovery and puts the focus on intensity for Friday's training session.

Supportive training

If it were up to me, I would limit any supportive exercises to some arm training on Monday. I would also limit excessive weekend frivolities, such as staying up all night on Saturday and picking up girls with my colleague Jim Beam, which could interfere with training.


Recovery should begin immediately after the last set of the training session. At this level of training intensity, sleep and nutrition in sufficient quantity and quality are critical. You will quickly overtrain with the Texas Method if you don't pay attention to your recovery. Always remember: you will not get strong and muscular by moving weights - you will get strong and muscular by recovering after training with weights. Don't forget to pay attention to this, or the Monday training session will ruin the rest of the week and you won't progress any further.

Recovery day Wednesday:

  • A.Squats 2 x 5 with 80% of Monday's working weight
  • B. Overhead press (if you did bench press on Monday) 3 x 5 * or bench press (if you did overhead press on Monday) 3 x 5 with your previous 5 x 5 weight
  • C.Pull-ups 3 x with your own body weight
  • D.Back extensions or glute-ham raise 5 x 10 * with a slightly lighter weight than your previous overhead press weight

Recovery continues with the training session on Wednesday. For squats, 2 sets of 5 repetitions are performed with 80% of the working weight from Monday. Alternate bench presses and overhead presses: If you performed 5 x 5 sets of overhead presses on Monday, train bench presses on Wednesday with 3 sets and a lighter weight than your last training session with 5 x 5 for bench presses, so that you feel the weight but it is not so heavy that it affects your recovery. The overhead press on Wednesday is performed with a slightly heavier weight relative to the 5RM weight than the bench press on recovery Wednesday, as the absolute weight is lighter.

Finish your training session with pull-ups and back extensions. I like to do 3 sets of pull-ups to muscle failure with 5 minutes rest between sets and 5 sets of 10 reps back extensions or glute/ham raises.

Intensity day Friday:

  • A.Squats: warm up and then work up to a single work set, new 5RM weight
  • B. Bench press (if you did bench presses on Monday) or overhead press (if you did overhead presses on Monday), work up to a single work set, new 5RM weight
  • C.Power Clean or Power Snatch: 5 x 3 / 6 x 2 Friday is the intensity day. This day is about reaching a new 5RM weight or approaching it up to 2% to allow for good training technique. Perform most of your warm-up workout light, first with the empty bar, then 65 kilos and then use sets of 2 reps or single reps to work your way up to your one work set, which should give you a new 5RM weight. Make sure the weight is higher than on Monday, but not so much higher that your exercise execution form drops off on the last reps. If this happens, then you have chosen the wrong weight.

Friday options

Since deadlifts were trained on Monday, Friday is the power clean/power snatch day. Olympic weightlifting exercises are the best way to build explosiveness and athleticism under the bar while allowing you to increase your explosive power in a way that can be planned incrementally. Dynamic effort training has become popular as another way to accomplish this, and using explosive deadlifts would be one way to incorporate dynamic effort training into the Texas Method, but Olympic weightlifting-derived power cleans and power snatches represent a different level of neuromuscular activity.

Keep in mind that in deadlifts you're pulling fast because you want to pull fast, whereas in power cleans you need to pull fast because otherwise you can't move the weight to shoulder height. The explosive aspect of the deadlift is minimal as the explosiveness is inherent in the upper portion of the movement. Cleans and snatches are both slightly lighter and more powerful than deadlifts and therefore perfect for the Friday training session. If you want to call yourself a strength athlete, you need to know how to train cleans and snatches - even if you don't intend to compete in Olympic weightlifting. After your warm-up, perform 5 sets of power cleans of 3 repetitions or 6 sets of power snatches of 2 repetitions.

A few notes

The Texas Method is quite simple in terms of the number of exercises. Progress in the weight room is based on increasing the weights on the basic structural exercises and not on the number of different ways you can perform tricep presses on the cable. Very few successful strength athletes or bodybuilders confuse complexity with effectiveness. The strength and mass gains you will experience with the Texas Method will not be as dramatic as the gains experienced by beginners, as the simple gains have already taken place. We are already further up the progression curve - otherwise we wouldn't be using an advanced program. If 5 months of beginner progression took you from 45 kilos of squats at a bodyweight of 65 kilos to 150 kilos x 5 of squats at a bodyweight of 90 kilos, then the Texas Method will take you to 185 kilos x 5 at a bodyweight of 100 kilos within a year. That's not nearly as dramatic, but it's okay now that you're older and committed to your project.

Final words

The time you spend in the weight room can either be productive or wasted and if you think about this for a few seconds, you will come to the conclusion that any real progress equates to a measurable increase in strength. Strength gains are the basis for gains in muscle mass. Ultimately, muscle mass is a side effect of strength and an intelligently planned and applied program can increase strength. Measurable progress must be your goal at all times in your training career. In the beginning, when you are still new to the barbell, this is easy. The Texas Method is a good option for the next step: maintaining the trend of using increasingly heavier weights.

Even the Texas Method won't work forever. Nothing will work forever. But it will work well as an introduction to the more complicated training programs necessary to continue making gains in strength and muscle mass at an advanced level.

By Mark Rippetoe

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