September 25, Just recently, once again, I had the honor to work with Boris Sheiko, one of the most successful powerlifting coaches in the world, and support him as his interpreter during his seminar. This time, there were two particular features about his seminar. First, it was his first seminar in Germany finally, I can connect the dots and it makes sense why I grew up in a bilingual German-Russian environment :. The seminar was carried out in a crossfit gym and athletes with different backgrounds were present: powerlifting, weightlifting, strongmen, crossfit and even karate. After the theoretical part of the seminar see my previous blog posts - 1 , 2 , 3 - for the content , all athletes showed their lifts and Boris Sheiko made technique corrections and suggestions on how to improve.
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Before we get into our next review, I first want to address one key point. In my opinion, this is the single BEST introductory book to the principles of proper programming out there.
The book is thorough and yet, simultaneously, readable for the average novice. The legendary powerlifting coach Boris Sheiko. And not just any powerlifting coach, Boris Sheiko has helped produce many champions and all-time world record holders such as Andrey Belyaev, Konstantin Pozdeev, Kirill Sarychev, Alexey Sivokan, and many more! In Russia, powerlifters are set down their chosen path much earlier than typically happens in the U.
The choice of sports is very deliberate. As such, the entire program is written from the perspective that a coach will be handling groups of year olds specifically interested in powerlifting. Take your time looking over the program.
Now, I know this thing is a monster so rather than ripping the whole thing apart piece by piece, I want to point out what I consider a few key attributes of the program. After squatting and benching, or doing close variants thereof, the novice then does general physical preparation exercises GPP.
Sheiko even has the novices playing sports on Fridays! In fact, most of the program volume comes from these GPP exercises which are highly varied from session to session. Wednesdays are dedicated to the deadlift, or a close deadlift variant, and some sort of bench variant which emphasizes the shoulders for the most part. All of the movements are specifically selected for their GPP and technical properties.
Box squats and rack pulls are featured heavily primarily because, according to Sheiko, box squats teach the novice to squat more effectively than free squats and rack pulls are safer. In fact, the volume slowly grows over the six weeks reaching its highest point in Week Six. This is a markedly different approach from typical American novice programs. Not only is every single training session different in terms of sets, reps, and exercise selection, but each session has different volumes as well.
Not only that, but the program progressively adds volume as the weeks go by. So, unlike American programs, developing volume tolerance is one of the objectives with this novice program.
That is why volume slowly tapers up over the weeks. In order to survive later Sheiko programming, you need to build a very strong base of work capacity. Specificity The program is purposefully fairly general in exercise selection.
More than half of the movements are GPP exercises. However, the core exercises are always specific or general-specific movements. For example, a closegrip bench is not entirely specific to powerlifting, but it is still fairly specific to the bench press because it is a close variant. The main exercises selected are the powerlifts and their close variants.
On the other hand, the majority of the movements are not the actual powerlifts themselves. In nearly every workout, of the exercises are general-specific or general in nature. Generally speaking, Sheiko did this to make the routine easier for novices to learn. A rack pull is easier to teach than a deadlift from the floor. A box squat is easier to do correctly than a full free squat. However, the tradeoff is that the novice has much less opportunity to learn to do the actual movements correctly.
Not only that, but you need to perform them in relatively higher frequencies. This is honestly just fine for a novice in my opinion; however, because so many variants are used, the novice only gets the opportunity to do real free squats eight times in a six week cycle.
Overload Overload is actually managed through regulation on this program. The coach prescribes a minimum weight for each novice lifter, observes their technique, and then adjusts the weight upward if it is too easy for them. Because of the presence of a coach, novices progress at their own pace. They are not limited to a fixed, linear increment. Individual Differences This leads us right into individual differences. Everyone progresses at different rates, but novices have more variety than any other group.
Linear progression is a bit of a farce. Genetic potential for strength exists along a strength curve. Your gains decrease at an increasing rate. Note that nothing about strength performance changes linearly. This still works well for the most part because it allows some wiggle room in the beginning. However, towards the end of linear progress, it becomes unsustainable.
This is going to enhance the speed of the results that any novice gets. Fatigue Management As mentioned earlier, this program offers variety in intensity and volume right from the very beginning. Each session has a markedly different workload. This is in stark contrast to StrongLifts or Starting Strength where you do the same thing every single workout.
Sheiko applies intermediate fatigue management concepts even to his novices. It is my opinion that these volumes are much too high and really just unnecessary. Sheiko uses them because all of his routines feature supremely high volumes.
In order to set up a foundation that will allow for this in the future, Sheiko pushes his novices really hard in terms of work capacity. It makes sense, but it is ultimately unnecessary in my opinion.
Work capacity can be developed over time as volume increases more gradually. The higher volume stages are saved for later when they become absolutely necessary for further progress. Overall I cannot recommend this program for novices simply because you cannot run this program without a coach.
The overload method requires a coach to regulate your weights for you. However, it will be instructive as we move along in this series to note that there are other options besides linear progression for novices and, in fact, they make more sense and work better.
My specific criticisms of this program boil down to: A Lack of overall specificity — too much exercise variety; not enough competition lifts B Unnecessary volumes — novices simply do not need this much volume; Starting Strength proves it That said, I chose to review this program because of the unique attributes it possesses in comparison to typical American novice programs. Namely, Sheiko feels that GPP is incredibly important for novices and, in fact, more than half of the programs exercises are GPP movements.
Hell, keep in mind that Sheiko has these kids playing sports games every week! Additionally, I wanted to demonstrate that not every powerlifting coach believes in massive amounts of upperback and overhead pressing work. These additions are taken for granted by most of the American programs which typically feature a press:bench ratio and lots of barbell rows or chin-ups. Sheiko just has his novices bench three times a week instead AND uses all that upperback volume on more deadlifting. I feel these aspects of the program represent an upgrade to the typical American approach.
So, again, I cannot recommend that you go out and actually try to do this program as a novice. It does require a coach. However, I hope that our analysis has been instructive and expanded your horizons on what appropriate novice programming entails. Moving Forward I know many of you are anxious for us to get into the intermediate programs, but there are a few beginner requests that I still need to work through first.
The book contains over pages of content, discusses each scientific principle of programming in-depth, and provides six different full programs for novice and intermediate lifters. Get your copy now! Like this Article?
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Studying Sheiko’s Surprising Novice Routine
Sheiko Lifter Classification Determining which set of Sheiko programs to utilize relies upon the current skill level of the athlete. Cookie cutter programs can never produce top results. They can produce excellent results, but there will always be room for improvement through individualization and autoregulation. The programs have proven incredibly successful for a variety of top raw powerlifters across the globe. They were written for individuals, not a general audience. Sheiko will grind you down over the course of weeks and rebuild you as a probably very tired and annoyed better powerlifter. These tabs can be run individually or back to back, so the program lengths can range from 4 weeks all the way to 20 weeks, depending upon how many consecutive cycles are run together and the strength level of the athlete.
Powerlifting: Foundations and Methods
He has a masterful understanding of technique, programming and perhaps most importantly, how to cultivate a successful competitive mindset. It is widely accepted that Russian training systems are the most advanced and effective. The very best of this comes from the Russian super-coach Boris Sheiko. His athletes stand now as some of the best ever in the sport.