The Sheiko Training System was designed by Boris Sheiko, and goes against many of the traditional powerlifting principles. Sheiko was a leading trainer in Russia and prepared many champion powerlifting athletes during career. I had heard many good and bad stories about this training program before I began to do it, such as “it increased my bench by 30 pounds” or “it is impossible to get through this program.” After doing the Westside method for about 6 months some of my lifts were stuck, so I felt it was time for a change.
There are many versions of the Sheiko routine, they are all similar to each other. So I picked one that I thought was closest to the original program and one that included 4 days a week. The fourth workout is almost an extra workout that is not quite as difficult as the rest.
The main workouts are done 3 times a week, and the main lift is usually performed twice. The program includes benching 3 times a week and the other 2 competition lifts are trained twice in their respective workout. The program is based on high volume and the weights are never higher than 85% of your one rep max. Most workouts will not go higher than 80%, but these weights will be done for multiple sets of multiple reps. Progression is also built into the program to prepare your body for the heavier lifts. For example, in week one squats work up to 70% for 5 sets of 5 reps, and by week 4 the lifter will be performing 2 sets of 3 reps with 85%. This article is too short to lay out the entire routine but different versions can be found all over the Internet.
The basic template of the Sheiko Training system would be:
- Day 1: Squat, Bench, Squat
- Day 2: Deadlift, Bench, Deadlift
- Day 3: Squat, Bench, Squat
A few notes are that on these days there will also be a few sets of high rep dumbbell flyes or presses, which are done to stretch the muscle. Also at the end of the deadlift workouts light good mornings are to be done to stretch out the posterior chain.
The program is based around the three main lifts without much variation except on the deadlift. Deadlift days usually include deadlifting while standing on boxes to give a greater range of motion or deadlifting off of boxes to give a shorter range of motion.
My experiences from 4 weeks of Sheiko
I felt the program was somewhat easy at the beginning but really wore out my body after a couple of weeks. My body never felt awfully sore but more just tired the next day, and I always felt ready for the next workout. I would suggest that someone add ten pounds to their bench max when figuring out their prospective sets. I never found the bench to be very difficult, just a ton of volume.
The squat and deadlift sets would be a grind every time, but I felt as though I just flew through the bench sets without too much difficulty. Adding approximately 10 pounds to my bench max made the sets much more difficult, but never caused failure. For any natural lifter that wants to try this I would suggest a cycle of 2 weeks, but no longer than 4 weeks. Any longer than 4 weeks will just destroy your body.
I experienced very good results from my 4 week experiment with the Sheiko Training System, I took my box squat from 425 to 435, which was the least successful lift. My bench went from an ugly 315 to 335 with better form, and finally my deadlift started at 485 and I recently pulled 525.
This workout helped me bust through some serious plateaus and shocked my system into some serious gains. I feel that this program could help many powerlifters break up the monotony of heavy weights and propel them into some new personal records.