Having encountered a training injury of left partial quadriceps tear on 10May2013, I began to postulate WHY this occurred. Surely, one who is squatting 340# for 20 reps can Squat 405# for 5 “easy” repetitions right? Umm negative, injury occurred on the final repetition of 1X5 @ 405#. Dissecting the previous 12 weeks of my squat training, it involved stringent use of 20 rep squats. While approaching a respectable barbell weight in the protocol (340#), this did leave me somewhat unprepared for the switch to Texas Method of low repetition, high intensity barbell training.
“Super Squats”, although being extremely demanding and high intensity in nature are a completely different breed when it comes to barbell training. The following validates the specificity of weight training in relation to muscular and energy systems adaptation to varying stimulus.
“Super Squats”, or heavy, high repetition training sets, target Type 2a muscle fiber. This fiber is responsible for a “strength endurance” capacity. In other words, we are training the fibers that allow us to do a lot of heavy work over an extended period of time. Ex: The super squats sets that last over two minutes with a barbell load exceeding 300#. Brutal indeed. These fibers respond very well to such training, and readily become hypertrophic. So in short, we train heavy high reps, and in exchange, we are adapting the muscles to do a lot of heavy work over an extended period of time, while creating an ideal environment for muscles to get bigger!
Do we also get strong? Absolutely, we get very strong in terms of being capable to handle relatively heavy weight for a long period of time. However, this does not mean we are well equipped for the demands of even heavier weights at a fraction of the repetitions. Enter Texas Method.
Texas calls for multiple heavy sets of 5×5 on day 1, with a lighter low volume day of 2×5, followed by a high intensity day of your heaviest weights handled that week @ 1×5. Exceptionally simplistic, no nonsense and effective in nature. Texas builds brutal absolute strength in return for our efforts. It does so by keeping training to only 3 days per week, emphasizing adequate rest, using few basic compound movements in progressive fashion. The rep/set scheme is in contrast to the previously described “Super Squat” protocol. Texas training provides stimulus to Type 2b muscle fiber. This fiber is responsible for near maximal efforts at very short durations. EX: 5 rep max sets. Therefore, when transitioning from Super Squats to Texas method, extra caution must be exercised in choosing bar weight and using slow progression due to the difference in muscle fiber stimulation. Too heavy, too fast without allowing time for tissues to adapt to the new demands, invites injury. To be good at squatting 405# for 5 reps, one must first have sufficient practice of squatting 365-385# for 5 reps.
In conclusion, when rotating from a heavy, high repetition program (Super Squats) to one of low rep ranges with heavier weights (Texas Method), extra caution should be taken to allow for sufficient practice with heavier weights at lower reps. Equally important is understanding the goals, anatomy, physiology and purposes of different training systems.