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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trying Out a New Training Template, Texas Method Split

After some reading on Texas Method training, I think I'll give it a shot. I have made some progress on the bench press using the Doug Young bench press template and very good progress on the back squat using a simple 5x5/3x5 progression, working up to 485x5 for a few sets and hitting a 515 lbs. single. My stalled and pathetic deadlift went from 455x1 to 495x1 using the Brad Gillingham DL program.

The Texas Method 4-day split seems like a natural extension of these training programs: it alternates volume days (reps) and intensity days (heavy, but still reps), allows me to squat twice a week while not neglecting the deadlift and to (seriously) incorporate the standing overhead press, which I have neglected over the past year. The original version of TM called for squatting 3 days per week and had a "light day", which seems unnecessary to me.

I generally don't see the need to squat more than once per week. However, I have recently scaled my squat weights down significantly in an effort to address some mobility and discomfort issues I'm experiencing and 95% of my training now consists of light paused squats. So two days will be fine, since the weights are light (e.g. paused squats for 275 lbs. x 5, or around 55% of 1RM). Sometimes I'll add a few heavier sets of regular squats, but the bread and butter of my leg training will be paused stuff.

A recent article by 800-lb. squatter Sam Byrd has also got me rethinking my approach to the back squat. This top-level powerlifter spends 10-18 weeks doing preparatory training ("base-building")  during which he never goes over 500 for sets and does most of his work with 420 lbs. Reading this made me wonder about the purpose of my death-sets in the 400-480 range, seeing how I squat about 60% of what he does :) So I'll be pushing the paused squats as the main squat variety for multiple sets of 5 and try to get as strong as possible at them; right now 280-300 feels like too much, and I'd like to hit a 405-lb. paused squat this year.

Overall the template should look something like this:

Week 1

Day 1 - upper body volume day
Bench press 3 sets x 5 - use a close-ish grip and try to up the weight 5 lbs. each week
Standing OH press 3 sets x 5 - strict, try to up by 5 each week
Row - cable low pulley row, 3 sets x 6-8 (alternate with BP)
Weighted dips - 3 sets x 10, add weight once this feels easy but don't push it
Pullups - unweighted to avoid tendinitis (alternate with OHP)
Arm work - BB curls and skullcrushers

Day 2 - lower body volume day
Start with light extensions and abductor/adductor machines
Paused squat 5x5, progress to 3x5 as weight gets heavier - try to up weight 5 lbs. per week
Romanian DL - 3 sets x 5-8 - up weight when possible, but focus on strictness of movement
Leg press with pause at bottom, 3-4 sets of 10
Leg extensions 2-3 sets x 10, heavy
Situps on ab board

Day 3 - upper body intensity day
Bench press - work up to a heavy (not top) triple, try to increase 5 lbs. per week
Bench press w. SlingShot - add 5-10 lbs. and do triple, repeat for 2-3 sets
Push press 4 sets x 2 - suck at these, I've never push pressed more than I could strict press :(
Barbell rows 3 x 5, try to keep strict and don't overdo the weight
Arm work - DB curls and pushdowns

Day 4 - lower body intensity day
Squat heavy - work up to a top triple, no more than 10 reps at 80% or more of max
Deadlift speed - 10 singles on the minute with a light weight, focus on fast pull with good form
Back raises 3 x 10
Hypers or glute-ham raises to finish
Situps on ab board

Week 2

All same except for:

Day 4 - lower body intensity day
Deadlift heavy - to a top double, then 2 sets x 5 light back-off
Squat speed - 6-8 doubles with light weight, focus on bouncing out of the hole, progress to 10x2

Back raises 3 x 10
Hypers or glute-ham raises to finish
Situps on ab board

Speed lifts are progressed only when every rep in the 10 sets moves with maximum explosion.

On volume days, the weight is kept the same across the sets of 5.

I will start out light and try to gain momentum for a steady increase. The above split will increase my squatting volume and reduce my bench pressing volume (presently 4 sets of 6, twice per week).

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