Autoregulating the Texas Method Part 2: Fatigue Management

This is the second article in a series on Autoregulating the Texas Method.
Click Here for Part 1: The Basics
Click Here for Part 3: Template and Exercise Selection
Click Here for Part 4: Periodization and Final Thoughts

In Part 1 of this series I presented a basic program in which I applied Autoregulatory tools on top of the Texas Method. The fatigue protocol I specified was rather simple. However, if we’re going to adequately describe the Texas Method using the RTS model we will need to use a little more finesse when we talk about the fatigue protocols. After all, the Texas Method works via the intimate interplay between fitness and fatigue.

The Two-Factor Fitness/Fatigue Model

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Source: Science and Practice of Strength Training 2nd Edition

The two-factor training theory roughly states that there are two products resulting from training, a positive, fitness product, and a negative, fatigue product. These products are transient and their summation determines an athletes performance.¹ The two-factor model is useful in explaining the body’s response to training. I specifically bring up this model because it’s crucial to understand that to utilize their newly developed strength the athlete must first dissipate some of the fatigue developed.

Developing the Fatigue Protocol

The Texas Method works on a weekly time-scale. Monday’s workout builds strength and hypertrophy while also accumulating significant fatigue. By Friday, the fatigue should be mostly dissipated allowing the athlete to set a new PR. Therefore, in determining the fatigue protocol we need to have the athlete do enough work on monday such that it produces strength gains without accumulating too much fatigue so that by the time Friday rolls around they can’t perform.

The Reactive Training Systems, developed by Mike Tuchscherer, specifies the following fatigue protocols:

Stress Fatigue Definition
Low 1-3% Ample recovery between weeks
Medium 4-6% Complete recovery between weeks
High 6-9% Incomplete recovery between weeks

This protocol wasn’t really designed to specify fatigue intra-week but they can still be useful if we keep in mind their limitations. They also assume 6 exercises per pattern (upper/lower), however, I think they’re still useful if we’re talking about half that. In Part 1 I gave the fatigue protocol of 4-6% for each day. Clearly this doesn’t fulfill the requirements of this program. What we really want is to have higher fatigue towards the beginning of the week and lower fatigue towards the end. We still need to keep in mind the amount of volume and cannot decrease this too drastically. With these goals in mind we can come up with the following fatigue prescriptions:

Monday Wednesday Friday
6-9% 1-3% 4-6%

Explanation and Practical Considerations

Now that we have our fatigue prescriptions how do we apply them? The following are my recommendations to achieve the desired level of fatigue:

Volume Day

Repeat from 8 to ~9.5. Then Drop 3% and repeat until 9.

Development Day²

Pyramid up to topset (@7, @8, @9) then drop 3% and repeat until 9.

Intensity Day

Pyramid up to topset (@7, @8, @9) then drop 5% and repeat until 9.

Volume Day is where we’ll accumulate the most fatigue. We’ll use repeats here to be true to the original Texas Method. We’ll also use some dropsets to get to the level of fatigue we’re looking for. Development Day will introduce some slight fatigue but not enough to increase it beyond what we can dissipate within the week. This will allow us to garner some more volume and keep frequency high. Intensity Day is of course PR day. Hopefully the fatigue has dissipated enough for us to peak. We’ll also use this day to do some more volume to continue progress on into the next week.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the series where I’ll discuss my thoughts on the overall Template.

References:

1. Zatsiorsky, Vladimir M. “Basic Concepts of Training Theory.” Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1995. 12-13. Print.

Notes:

2. You’ll notice I’m calling Wednesday “Development Day”. I want to get away from the notion of Recovery Day and all of its implied unimportance. It is important and we can use it to our advantage to work on our weak areas. But more on this in another part of this series.

Autoregulating the Texas Method Part 1: The Basics

This is the first article in a series on Autoregulating the Texas Method.
Click Here for Part 2: Fatigue Management
Click Here for Part 3: Template and Exercise Selection
Click Here for Part 4: Periodization and Final Thoughts

The Texas Method is a popular program for intermediate trainees. The typical setup involves a 5×5 volume day on monday and a heavy set of 5 on Friday. There are a multitude of modifications that can and are made to this program. Many are detailed in Justin Lascek’s ebooks as well as the latest edition of Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe and Andy Baker. There isn’t much, however, on how to adapt this program for autoregulation. While I’ve written about this in the past I thought I’d give my current thoughts on how to approach this.

Why Autoregulate?

Autoregulation adapts the programming based on the level of fatigue (among other factors) the lifter has on a given day. One of the biggest difficulties in utilizing the TM, in my opinion, is how to progress the volume day. Many lifters develop a natural sense of when to increase the volume vs the intensity weight. Others find it more difficult to know when to change it.

Using autoregulation, specifically the RTS-style developed by Mike Tuchscherer, we can adapt the Texas Method and listen to our body systematically rather than increasing based on rules of thumb.

Example Template

Monday

Squat w/ Belt x5 @8, repeat 4-6%
Bench (touch and go) x5 @8, repeat 4-6%
2″ Deficit Deadlifts x5 @8, repeat 4-6%

Wednesday

2ct Pause Squat x4 @9 4-6%
2ct Pause Bench x4 @9 4-6%

Friday

Squat w/ Belt x3 @7 x3 @8 x3 @9 4-6%
Competition Bench x3 @7 x3 @8 x3 @9 4-6%
Deadlift w/ Belt x3 @7 x3 @8 x3 @9 4-6%

Commentary

For those unfamiliar with notation and terminology used above I would recommend you check out the resources on the Reactive Training Systems website. On Monday we’re using repeats to get some volume at lower intensity. This will be similar to the training effect already utilized by the Texas Method. I utilized 4-6% fatigue (Medium) as a baseline but it’s conceivable that some weeks you should push the repeat set up to a 10. For those unadapted to deadlifting multiple times per week you could start out with working up to a topset @9 with no dropset or you could sub in some kind of row.

Wednesday involves some pause work although there’s no reason you couldn’t include other variations. Friday has you work up in triples with the intent of doing a pyramid of @7, @8, and @9. Those first two sets will tell you whether you should go for a PR or not. You should err on this side of going for that PR. However, if the first two sets are more like @8 and @9 you should stop there.

Who would benefit from this?

The limitation of this program is obviously it was developed for a generic lifter. It will need to be customized for each individuals scenario. Conceivably, someone who is already using the TM with success and wants to begin autoregulating their training could use something like this to do so.

Disclaimer

I have not tested this variant on anyone. It is my personal opinion on how to work autoregulation into the TM. If you wish to try it I’d be happy to hear from you. If you would like to discuss how you might adapt this to your current state of development I’d be happy to discuss it with you.