Boris Sheiko is a Russian bodybuilding coach and renowned powerlifting expert. Several of his trainees have won national and international competitions. Along the path to prominence in the powerlifting world he developed his own training regimen, which came to be known as Sheiko Training.
Boris’ training philosophy flies in the face of what most training regimens where you train each muscle group once each week. In contrast to this, Boris believes that frequency and volume performed at low intensities can drive progression and gains. In Sheiko Training, you repeat lifts several times a week, which both improves your form and drives growth. The key though is that the weight must be kept relatively low in order to allow your body sufficient time to recover.
I’ll tell you straight up that the program is complex and if you’re not into keeping a journal then this is not the plan for you. Measured progress is the underlying principle of Sheiko Training. In Boris’ program, frequency refers to the number of days you train a muscle group each week, volume refers to the number of reps you for each muscle group and intensity refers to the weight-specifically, the percentage of your max weight that you’re lifting. With so many things to track, you’ll need to log your training sessions each week so you can see your improvements.
For the beginner, Sheiko Training can be confusing-especially since it has not been that long since it was first translated from Russian and most of them have been literal translations such as, “Trainings of arresters in the preparatory period.” As a result, some of the terms and phrases can be difficult to understand for the layman. Also because its translation to English is relatively recent, it can be a bit tough to find detailed explanations of the program and its philosophies.
Sheiko Training uses percentages to manage your lifting volume. You start low and work your way up, increasing the percentage as you go along. For the beginner, the first bench press set might be 50% of max lift, then 60%, 70% and the finally 75%. Remember that although the weight may be lower than what you’re used to doing, you’ll be doing more reps (volume) than in a normal workout. In fact, with Sheiko training you may be going anywhere between 850 – 1000 reps each month, sometimes more.
In addition, there are three periods in Sheiko Training: the preparatory period where the foundation is established, the emulative period, which is more advanced and the transitive period, which prepares you to renew the cycle again. During the preparatory period volume is higher and intensity lower. Conversely, during the emulative period, intensity is higher but volume lower. And finally, during the transitive period, volume, intensity and the number of weekly workouts are all reduced in order to give the body time to recuperate.
There are a lot of different Sheiko Training templates to choose from depending on your level of familiarity with the program. Most Sheiko experts recommend that beginners start with training routine #29. This is a three day a week program that will help you get accustomed to Sheiko. This routine has you doing about 964 lifts (reps) per month.
As you progress through the templates things get tougher. For instance, in Sheiko Training template #37, the total number of reps for the month is 1093. Gains are also achieved by increasing the weight (percentage of max lift) lifted in the templates. Because of the complexity of the routines-keeping track of all those percentages and lifts can be a real chore, some guys have taken the time to make spreadsheets that automatically calculate the appropriate percentages for you, based on the one-rep max you enter.
Opinions on Sheiko training run to extremes. Some guys swear that they’ve made incredible gains following Boris’ training templates with others saying that it’s just too complicated and that any gains they made are negligible. Keep in mind though that because Sheiko Training is relatively unknown here in the United States, there really isn’t enough information out there to say that the program isn’t really effective.
Also, remember that the Russians have long been known for their expertise and success in developing some of the world’s most powerful lifters and if you take the time to read the science behind Boris’ training philosophy you’ll see that he knows what he’s talking about. So given that, I definitely believe that we’ll be seeing and hearing more about Sheiko Training in the future.
Mike Westerdal is the President of Critical Bench, Inc. He earned his BS from Central CT State University and holds certification as a personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise. Westerdal also has experience coaching and playing professional football. His articles are published throughout the Web and in numerous weight lifting magazines. His personal best RAW bench press is 450 lbs. Mike can be contacted at his Web site www.criticalbench.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on increasing your bench press read about the Critical Bench Program here.