10 weeks out

It's been a while since I came to update this journal! That's mostly because I was pretty far out from my meet that nothing huge was happening. I also got sick a couple times, which derailed my training as did moving into a new house. BUT, now the dust has settled, we have our home gym up and running, and I'm 10 weeks out from the meet. I just started up again with the Texas Method Program, and I intend to take it all the way to the week before the meet if it'll let me!

THE TEXAS METHOD:

This program is ideal for building strength and is written largely for competitive powerlifters (hence why I'm using it to prepare for my meet in October). It comes from the mind of Mark Rippetoe and all the intimate details, explanations, and variations can be found in the book Practical Programming. But, here's the run down… 

 Definitely check this book out if you're interested in the programming aspect of strength training. It covers more than just powerlifting programs (including weight lifting and accessory work), and it gives excellent detail and explanations.

Definitely check this book out if you're interested in the programming aspect of strength training. It covers more than just powerlifting programs (including weight lifting and accessory work), and it gives excellent detail and explanations.

The program works in sets of 5 in varying intensities. It consists of three workout days, and it gets to be pretty grueling a week or two in. Here's how it looks on paper:

DAY ONE - MONDAY - VOLUME DAY
5x5 on squats @ ~90% of Friday's weight
5x5 on bench press @ ~90% of Friday's weight

TUESDAY - REST

DAY TWO - WEDNESDAY - RECOVERY DAY
3s x 5r on squats @ 80-90% of Monday's weight
3s x 5r on overhead press

THURSDAY - REST

DAY THREE - FRIDAY - INTENSITY DAY
1s x 5r on squats
1s x 5r on bench press
1s x 5r on deadlifts

SAT/SUN - REST
(Two days here to complete the week and before you're ready for the volume day again... Trust me, you'll be glad for both of those days when it comes time to do your 5x5's again.)

So, the volume day weights are based on the intensity day, and the recovery day weights are based on the volume day, and each week the idea is to increase every day's workouts by uniform increments. For example, since the smallest plates in the gym are usually 2.5's, the smallest jump we can make is 5 pounds total on the bar. So, each week we would aim to increase every day's working weights by 5 pounds. Eventually, though, that will become unsustainable, and that's when you'll need to get into Practical Programming read up on the nitty gritty details. But here's the rundown on what to do when the 5 pound jumps become unsustainable…

When you start to fail reps it's time to either:
1. change the set/rep schemes to hit a similar amount of TOTAL working reps for the workout but in more achievable numbers (i.e. 2s x 3r instead of 1s x 5r for a similar total number of reps, but with a lower demand on the reps of each set), or
2. regress a week or two and work back up to where you were when you failed to, theoretically, be able to move past that point.

But the main idea being this: if you start to fail reps or otherwise plateau, you need to change something.

And the main idea of the entire Texas Method program is to build pure strength using an enduring scheme of 5 reps over varying intensities. 

This video comes from my first week's intensity day (1s x 5r for squats, bench, and deadlifts.)

I picked perfect weights for week 1 on my squats and bench press; challenging but very achievable. I managed to get 6 reps, instead of 5, for both squats and bench press.
Being that this is week 1, I definitely don't want the weights to feel unachievable already, because the program will ramp up extremely quickly. (In 4 weeks I'll be doing my 5x5 at the same weight I did a ONEx5 today, to give you an idea.)
So, itting 6 reps instead of 5 is totally OKAY, and here's why... Intensity day essentially aims to get AS CLOSE to a 5 rep max as possible. So, theoretically, you should be able to do just at 5 reps and that's it. However, one extra rep won't hurt your progress, and it doesn't veer to far from a 5rm. Failed reps, on the other hand, will derail progress. Since the goal is to hit a 5rm, we want 5 reps minimum. (And, if you find yourself failing reps at all on this program, you should be making immediate changes to rectify the situation.) And, in the same vein, hitting 7 or 8 reps is a good sign that the weight you're using is much too low, because that's veering a little too far from a 5rm. The sweet spot really is 5 reps, maybe 6.

When it comes to deadlifts, though, I ovvershot. You'll see me actually fail a rep in the video before finishing a fourth and stopping there. Because of this I've adjusted my intensity day deadlift weights moving forward. (Again, if you're failing reps at all on the program, you should make immediate changes.)

So, as you can see, this first week sort of serves as a trial and error period in picking the weights unless you're basing them directly off of a prior program, which I am not. I happened to nail it with my squat and bench weights, but I wasn't so correct with my deadlift weight. I had also forgotten how grueling it is to do squats and deadlifts on the same day, and I didn't take into account how my performance would weaken for the second lower body lift.