1. The crash course to powerlifting programming and introducing the TexasxPHAT template
Click here to download the TexasPHAT spreadsheet template
This article will give an exposition of the inner workings of the program, as well as a crash course in regards to powerlifting programming.
We have put together an awesome, free powerlifting routine that uses a lot of specific movements to maximise your powerlifting totals. Let’s explain some theory behind the spreadsheet.
Most advanced powerlifting programs have 3-4 main phases.
What is confusing, is that these 3-4 phases can have different names, depending on who you talk to. These phases can range from daily to monthly changes.
Texas PHAT is an undulating cycle format, where the majority of the phases are completed within a 1-week cycle.
2. Phase 1
Accumulation/Volume/ Extensification (high volume & medium intensity)
These sub-phases can have many differing goals. Accumulation blocks will typically have higher volumes, so I prefer to call these the main hypertrophy (muscle growth) phases. However, if light enough, these could also be called “light days” where you can recover from intensity phases. This will also give you lots of reps to build up good motor patterns and become a skilled lifter. People oft forget skill is a big driver of peak numbers and injury prevention. Just imagine a footballer who never practiced football regularly; it makes no sense! A recent meta-analysis by kreiger showed multiple sets out performs single sets and is a big driver of hypertrophy (1).
3. Phase 2
Intensification/Transmutation/Intensify (medium volume & higher intensity)
This basically teaches you how to handle more weight, and is a closer intensity to meet lifts (it’s more goal specific). Equally, it has enough reps to cause additional growth and can overreach an individual after rest; allowing for good growth rates. Basically, you are teaching any new muscle you might have grown in the accumulation phase to be utilised for higher loads. Much like a race driver practicing in a faster car: he needs to get used to it even if he’s highly skilled. Brad Schoenfeld has an excellent study on equated volume which demonstrates that: although growth was the same, recovery from lower intensities was easier (2). However, peak power was better at higher intensities. So, it does seem to hint that you need to practice some higher intensity work, but the exact amount is debatable per training cycle. On TexasxPHAT we like to match Rhea paper on max power the best we could and go for around 80% of your 1RM(3).
4. Phase 3
Realization\Peak (low volume & very high intensity)
This phase is basically either a mock meet or training max day. You’re basically checking and testing if the previous phases have actually made an improvement in peak strength. Some programs like the Texas Method might test a 5-rep working max. Alternatives, like Sheiko, might be a mock meet and a 1RM test. I still like to add some light work to top up volume, but it depends how the entire program is constructed.
5. Phase 4
If you are over-taxed, this will be a recovery phase to get ready for a meet intensity peak or another programmed cycle of the above. This is not within the microcycle. Basically, you could just switch all days to 5 reps and use the 8-rep RPE 7.5. This should give most people enough recovery in 1-2 weeks if they start missing new PRs (training-based personal records).
6. Periodization is also a factor
I decided to employ an undulating reps scheme (reps change regularly). The data does not seem to support that undulating reps are superior for growth per se. Nonetheless, there is a strong link for increased strength. Anecdotally, I also find my trainees seem to get less bored and recovery seems to be better. This, in my opinion, is crucial in a program; especially in a full-body one.
Undulation : changing the training volume and/or intensity.
Linear Progression : Training in a linear fashion. This is roughly like traditional western method of progressive overload such as adding weight to the bar regularly.
Conjugation periodization : For example is where the moves change regularly. For example, flat bench to board press or this could be a change to speed/band work.
These could be implemented in blocks (Block periodization may have the routine change in set blocks).
7. How are these set up?
This can be any timeframe, but typically in 4-week mesocycles. Meso is normally 4 weeks as opposed to micro which is weekly or daily undulating.
“Block periodization is an example where you may use 4 weeks of volume work, followed by 4 weeks of intensity work.”
DUP is another example (Daily Undulating Periodization) where the volume and intensity days are cycled daily.
These can be changed depending on the program there is no solid set rules on time frames.
8. Extras I added and basic instructions
I added a percentage-based system, to allow maximal recovery by regulating the intensity using colours that correspond to the 1RM calculator at the top. All you have to do is enter your working max in the calculator and lift the corresponding colours.
The red sessions : these are your new training records. You take the red number (which is your theoretical 3-rep max) and add 5lb or 2.5kg to the bar. If you lift it, you are now stronger so you need to update the calculator with the new weight. We chose 3 reps, because we felt this was the most comfortable and closest way of testing maximal power. Also, it is easier to add to 3 reps as opposed to 5 reps, for example. This is very apparent when training in high rep ranges. This will also really tax your neural system; getting you used to near maximal 1RMs in a meet.
9. Example on setting a record and progressing template
Let’s say your max bench is 140kg for 3 reps (which is shown in red PR box). You attempt 142.5kg for 3 reps. If you get it, you now change the calculator to 142.5KG for 3. The routine will upscale and get harder.
The optional sets are when you have built up work capacity and need a little more volume to progress further. Do not be in a rush to add those in or even all the accessory’s. Train smarter, not harder per se. There will be a time to use them. If you’re using the extra sets and you’re having a rough day, skip them to allow more recovery and auto-regulate your own volume.
10. How to peak for a meet (keeping it simple here!)
On the week of the meet, just repeat PR days 2 times and only do the last 2-3 sets per competition movement. Drop all accessory work.
Mon & Wed : PR day (after warmups)
Squat : 2 sets of blue for 3 reps (79% 1 RM) and 1 set of red number for 1 rep (91%1 RM).
Bench : 2 sets of blue for 3 reps (79% 1 RM) and 1 set of red number for 1 rep (91%1 RM).
Deadlift : 1 set of blue for 3 reps (79% 1 RM) and 1 set of red number for 1 rep (91%1 RM).
No accessory movements.
Saturday : Meet day.
11. Accessory lifts
We put together accessory lifts that address common weak points in each lift. For example, an incline press for people weak off the chest in flat bench. I also chose moves that add additional volume to other lifts to increase maximal growth. Like OHP, which will also target triceps like in the bench press; doubling up the volume they receive through crossover.
This is covered in the phase 4 section. This is just 1-2 weeks of light work, and little to no accessories.
13. Special mention
To make sure my system was on point, I asked my friend and Elite lifter CJ Allen (Strength Coach, Rehabilitative Physiologist) from Bridge City Strength Sports to fine tune the final template before release. So big thanks to him for final tweaks. Also thanks for Suad and Greg for proof reading.
14. Further Reading
If you need help setting up accessory lifts to address and pinpoint weaknesses in the big 3 pick up a copy of Greg Nuckols and Omar Isuf’s short E-book No weak links(4).
This template may not work on some Apple or mobile devices due to Microsoft Excel protection. So Passwords will not be issued.
– Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis
– Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men.
Schoenfeld BJ1, Ratamess NA, Peterson MD, Contreras B, Sonmez GT, Alvar BA
– Applications of the dose-response for muscular strength development: a review of meta-analytic efficacy and reliability for designing training prescription.
Peterson MD1, Rhea MR, Alvar BA.
About the Author
Russell Taylor He got into coaching professionally in 2014. Since that time Russell Taylor’s evidence based approach has had a string of top placing client male and female finishers in everything from physique to figure, and even competitive powerlifting. He has also been published many articles and routines for high profile webzines. His ultimate goal is unify the industry by combining academic evidence together with practical experience.