Sheiko Programming Part 2

Written by Kevin Cann

In my last article (here), I broke down how Boris chooses the number of lifts in a prep period. Now comes putting it onto paper. Deciding the number of lifts in your program is just a starting point. Once the number of lifts is decided you need to decide how to plan all of those lifts.

The best place to start is dividing the number of lifts with 50% bench press, 25% squat, and 25% deadlift. This gives half of the lifts to the upper body and half to the lower body. There are a few other reasons why this breakdown tends to work pretty well.

For one, trying to squat and deadlift on the same day would be too difficult to perform and to recover from. Boris believes that the bench press is much easier to recover from. The deadlift is the hardest lift to recover from according to Boris. Having 50% of the lifts be a deadlift would just be too much for the athlete and lead to overtraining. With the amount of volume in these programs minimizing the risk of overtraining is critical.

If your deadlift is the weakest of your 3 lifts I would recommend cutting the squat volume to 15% to 20% and raising the deadlift volume to no more than 35% of the total number of lifts. In my short experience on a Sheiko program, when the deadlift became 30% of my lifts and the squat dropped, I did notice a difference in my recovery. I was not as fresh at the end of the week. Total volume was the same during this period. This just means you need to plan the week accordingly.

During this period I planned more technique work like deadlifting to the knees, from the knees and 1 ½ deadlifts. When I had extended time off due to vacation I maximized the stress in that week and then used the following week to recover.

That is the thing with Sheiko. All of his programs are individualized and he will change them day to day depending on how the athlete is feeling. After every training period you need to analyze your training log and figure out what worked, what did not work, and what can be improved upon.

Here is a sample week from #37 v2. Use this as an example and make the changes that best suit you:
Day 1
Bench Press 50% x 5, 60% x 4, 70% x 3, 75% 5×3
Squat 50% x 5, 60% x 5, 70% 5×5
Bench Press 50% x 6, 60% x 6, 65% 4×6
Chest Muscles 4×6
Good morning 5×5

Day 3
Deadlift 50% x3, 60% x3, 70% x 3, 75% 4×3
Incline Bench Press (30 degrees) 50% x 3, 60% x 3, 70% 4×3
Deadlift from boxes (Sheiko uses 10cm boxes) 60% x3, 70% x 3, 80% 4×3
Leg Extension 4×8
Abs 3×8

Day 4
Bench Press 50% x 7, 55% x 6, 60% x 5, 65% x 4, 70% x 3, 75% x 2, 70% x 3, 65% x 4, 60% x 6, 55% x 8, 50% x 10 (This is one of many different pyramids that Sheiko uses)
Squat 50% x 5, 60% x 4, 70% x 3, 75% 5×3
French Press 5×8
Lat Muscles 5×8
Seated good morning 5×5

The breakdown of that week is 230 lifts, 62 squats, 129 bench press, and 39 deadlifts. Average weight is a bit lower than Sheiko recommends at 65%. Sheiko recommends 68% to 72% for average weight lifted to be optimal. The drop in average weight lifted was more than likely due to an increase in the volume. This tends to be the trend in his programs when there is some type of volume pyramid included.

In a comp cycle the total number of lifts drops between 20% and 40%. Average weight is at the upper end of the 68% to 72% with a big increase seen in lifts completed between 80% and 89% of 1RM. The difference between #32 and comp cycle #31 is 40 more lifts completed in that range. There were also 4 lifts of greater than 90% 1RM in #32 and 11 in #31. The number of lifts at the lower intensities drops off during a competition period.

The lighter weights are used for real focus on technique in the lifts. As a competition nears the focus transitions from technique and focuses more on maximizing strength. Every week in the Sheiko program is different. This is to keep the athlete moving forward and avoid plateaus. There are a number of different ways to do this.

Here are some examples taken from Sheiko’s site:

Version 1

%RM Reps Sets
50 5 1
60 4 1
70 3 1
80 3 2
90 2 3

Lifts = 24
Relative Intensity = 71.5%

Version 2

%RM Reps Sets
55 5 1
65 4 1
75 3 1
85 2 4

Lifts = 20
Relative Intensity = 72.0%

Version 3

%RM Reps Sets
50 5 1
60 4 1
70 3 1
80 3 5

Lifts = 27
Relative Intensity = 70.4%

Version 4

%RM Reps Sets
50 5 1
60 5 1
70 5 1
75 4 5

Lifts = 35
Relative Intensity = 68.6%

Version 5

%RM Reps Sets
50 5 1
60 4 1
70 3 1
80 3 2
85 2 3
80 3 2

Lifts = 30
Relative Intensity = 72.3%

As you can see, options are endless. Boris likes to plan higher stress training sessions for his elite lifters every 10 to 14 days. This would be in the form of a volume pyramid that was shown in #32. I would not recommend beginners and intermediates attempt these. Lifters in these categories may not possess the work capacity to keep technique perfect the entire time. The goal as a beginning and intermediate lifter is to gain confidence and perfect technique. Reps should NEVER be missed in practice.

Planning the year can be a bit trickier. Boris believes new lifters should compete as much as possible to gain confidence and get an idea of how competitions go. The more elite the lifter the less that they compete. Boris will have elite lifters choose the most important competition for them to peak at. He will have them compete at a higher weight class to get confidence hitting bigger weights so that at the most important competition they know they can hit those big weights.

As a new lifter just lift in the class that your weight falls. Do not try to cut weight. Pick lifts you are 100% sure that you can lift and go 9 for 9 to build confidence.

Planning the training year can get a bit trickier. The easiest way to do it is to perform 8-12 weeks of a prep period followed by a 4 week comp period. If you are competing the comp period should lead right into your 7-10 day taper for your competition. If you do not compete, cycle through 8-12 weeks of high volume followed by a 4 week comp period. Choose two dates per year to test your maxes. After you retest maxes, repeat the program with the heavier weights and any adjustments that you feel are necessary to your success.

Boris is not a huge fan of active rest. He cites research that shows anything more than 2 weeks makes it very difficult for the lifter to return to top form. A week of active rest he may be ok with it sounds like. He is a big fan of swimming, but doing no more than 30 minutes in the pool. For recovery all of his athletes go into the sauna at least once a week to allow the muscles to relax and to fully recover. He also recommends you eat a TON of food to assist recovery.

Boris believes that there is an optimal height and weight for everyone. This weight should be at the top of the weight class. Here are his recommendations:

Optimal Heights and Weights

Height Weight Height Weight
145+/-3cm 52kg 168+/-2cm 82.5kg
149+/-3cm 56kg 171+/-2cm 90kg
155+/-2.5cm 60kg 174.5+/-2cm 100kg
160+/-2cm 67.5kg 177.5+/-2cm 110kg
164+/-2cm 75kg 186+/-6cm 110+kg
*Target weights should be at the top of a weight class

The goal of high volume and nutrition should be to build the muscle mass and gain the weight necessary to compete at the top of your ideal weight class. Of course these are general guidelines and can be adjusted for certain individuals.

I hope these 2 articles help those that want to get started with a Sheiko program. His website is and has some good information posted on it. Rumor has it that one, or more, of his books are in the process of being translated into English. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, hopefully I can have some answers!

Original Source: Sheiko Programming Part 2


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