The Sheiko Program: A Blueprint for Powerlifting Success

Boris Sheiko - Sheiko program creator

The Sheiko powerlifting program has developed a cult-like following among strength athletes seeking maximal gains. Created by legendary Russian weightlifting coach Boris Sheiko, this system has propelled numerous athletes to championship titles and unprecedented personal records.

Sheiko’s methodology roots itself in driving high training volume through percent-based programming. It’s focused on the core lifts – squat, bench press, and deadlift. By prescribing heavy loads at submaximal intensities, Sheiko allows powerlifters to hone competition lift technique while minimizing fatigue and injury risk.

At its core, Sheiko emphasizes:

  • Frequent practice of the competition lifts
  • High volume load across all three powerlifts
  • Submaximal weights at specific percentages
  • Meticulous technique refinement

For powerlifters struggling to break through plateaus, Sheiko represents an intensive yet rewarding path to newfound strength gains. This article explains Sheiko programming and how it helps the strongest lifters achieve record-breaking performances.

You can learn even more about it on the forum!

Sheiko Program Basics

Alright, before we dig into the nitty-gritty details, let’s go over the core principles of Sheiko training. Some of you love getting into the details, but let’s start with a general overview first.

The Sheiko program focuses on just three main lifts:

  • Squat
  • Bench press
  • Deadlift

These are the tried and true powerlifting competition lifts. No fancy new-age functional training here!

You’ll be doing a ton of volume on these lifts. We’re talking multiple sessions per week of heavy squat, bench, and deadlift work. So you better be ready to live in the gym if you plan to run Sheiko!

You won’t be throwing around your true 1RM very often, though. You will do most of your work at submaximal percentages of your maxes. It will usually be between 60-80% of your 1RM. This allows you to ingrain flawless technique without beating yourself into the ground.

The percentages are precise too. You’ll have spreadsheets dialing in specific weights tailored to your current maxes. No “feels like 70%” stuff – we’re talking calculated, quantified training prescription.

And get ready for lots of low rep work – singles, doubles, and triples primarily. High volume, low reps, submaximal weight. The Sheiko special!

This allows you to practice the competition lifts with laser focus. You’ll build mastery through highly specific, repetitive technique practice.

To quickly recap:

  • 3 Main Lifts: Squat, Bench, Deadlift
  • High Volume: Lots of heavy sets
  • Submaximal Weights: 60-80% of 1RM
  • Precise Percentages: Spreadsheet based
  • Low Reps: Mostly singles, doubles, triples
  • Technical Mastery: Flawless technique through practice

Make sense so far? Now we can geek out on some more specifics around customizing Sheiko to your level and structuring your training. But hopefully, this gives you a sense of the philosophy underpinning Sheiko programming. It’s about mastery of the core lifts through honing technique as much as brute strength!

Are you trying to increase a specific lift quickly? Try Smolov Jr!

Sheiko Programming Details

Let’s get into the specifics of how Sheiko programming is structured. Grab your spreadsheets and a cup of coffee – this is about to get deep!

First up is selecting the right Sheiko level for you. There are templates for:

  • Beginners
  • Intermediates
  • Advanced lifters

How do you know where you stand? Generally:

  • Beginner: New to powerlifting or still progressing linearly
  • Intermediate: Past newbie gains, several years lifting, clear plateaus
  • Advanced: Many years experience, nearing elite strength levels

You can also use competition classification charts to dial in your level based on your Wilks score. But the above is a decent starting point.

Next up is choosing the right load – Small, Medium or Large:

  • Small Load: Bodyweight over 110kg / 242lbs
  • Medium Load: Bodyweight 80-110kg / 176-242lbs
  • Large Load: Bodyweight under 80kg / 176lbs

Lifters who are lighter use more volume, so they invert the loads. Don’t let your ego go too big and select loads that are too advanced!

Now we get to the good stuff – supplementary exercises to build up your weak points. Without getting incredibly specific, you want to supplement with lifts like:

  • Dumbbell Flys
  • Good Mornings
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Dips
  • Rack Pulls
  • Split Squats
  • French Press

These lifts will address some of the following areas:

  • Triceps, lats, and pecs for bench press
  • Posterior chain for squat and deadlift
  • Core stability work
  • Technique drills like pin presses

These accessories address muscle imbalances, prevent injury, and boost your big three. Sheiko is laser-focused on the competition lifts but not negligent of your other needs!

You’ll also go through peaking blocks leading up to meets:

  • Higher intensity over weeks
  • Lower volume as you peak
  • Test openers and make technique tweaks
  • Build confidence under heavy weights

This sets you up to PR on game day!

Spreadsheet organization is critical for Sheiko. You’ll have:

  • Weight, sets, reps, and percentages prescribed
  • Multiple mesocycles and training blocks
  • Progressions in load and volume over time
  • Periodization tying it all together

Don’t freestyle your Sheiko training – follow the spreadsheets (or the book)!

Let’s recap what we covered:

  • Levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Loads: Small, Medium, Large
  • Supplementary work
  • Peaking for meets
  • Spreadsheet organization

Are you ready to become a Sheiko powerlifting programming expert?!

Sheiko Variations

Alright, now that you’ve got the core principles down, let’s explore some of the many variations of Sheiko programming out there.

First up are the popular numbered programs like #29, #30, #31, etc. Each one has a slightly different focus:

  • #29 – Preparatory
  • #30 – Accumulation
  • #31 – Transmutation
  • #32 – Peaking

You’ll see these numbered programs frequently recommended as part of a broader training plan.

Next, we have iterations of Sheiko for bench press specialization. These hammer your bench training volume while still incorporating squats and deads:

  • Higher bench press frequency
  • More variation for the bench (close grip, spoto press, etc.)
  • Dips, flyes, tricep work to support bench

If you want shocking gains in your bench 1RM, these programs deliver!

On the flip side, you have Sheiko adjustments for increased hypertrophy focus:

  • Higher rep ranges – 5’s and 8’s
  • Added bodybuilding accessories
  • Greater time under tension
  • Maximizing metabolic stress

This sacrifices some specificity for size gains, a nice change of pace.

Of course, you can always create your own customizations and modifications to make Sheiko your own:

  • Tweaking exercise selection
  • Changing intensity
  • Adjusting volume
  • Modulating frequency
  • Integrating new principles

The sky’s the limit once you grasp the core Sheiko methodology!

And the new Sheiko Gold app brings Boris’s training program into the future:

  • AI-based customization
  • Auto-regulation features
  • Exercise database
  • Video tutorials
  • Progress tracking

Some assistive technology to optimize your powerlifting – we love to see it!

The takeaway is that while Sheiko has standard templates, there’s ample room for personalization. Don’t be afraid to make it your own flavor!

If you want to try something different, check out these powerlifting programs.

Opinions on Sheiko

Alright, enough about the X’s and O’s – what do powerlifters think about Sheiko? Let’s hear from some people who have experienced Boris’s programming firsthand.

Reddit user retirexfitter had this to say after running Sheiko:

“Stats: Age: 41 Sex: Male Weight: 190 Height: 5’11” Maxes before program: SBD – 380, 290, 490. I finished the comp cycle and tested again. I hit a 295 bench for a 5-pound PR and then hit an ugly (but flew off bench) 300! I also just missed a 510 deadlift attempt.”

User chieftanduke offered thier perspective:

“I’ve ran intermediate medium load, advanced medium load and advanced large load. Bench and deadlift improved and I PR’d on the two lifts with every cycle.”

The community seems to agree that Sheiko delivers excellent strength and technical gains but requires careful fatigue management and individual adjustment. If you run it as-written for too long without customization, overuse injuries become more likely. But for focused peaking cycles or driving progress through new volume landmarks, Sheiko proves itself time and again!

Outcomes and Takeaways

After thoroughly analyzing Sheiko programming, here are the main results and lessons you can learn from following these intense programs.

First and foremost, expect some killer strength gains from Sheiko training if you put in the work. I’m talking double-digit percentage increases on your squat, bench, and deadlift 1RMs.

But this newfound beefy strength comes at a price – you’re going to be beat up and fatigued. Don’t plan any tropical getaways mid-Sheiko cycle because you’ll need that rest day for pure recovery. Which leads to…

fatigued lifter

Careful fatigue management is mandatory. Be diligent with your sleep, nutrition, and recovery protocols. Some strategic deloads here and there won’t kill your gains either. Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it.

Try adding creatine and a protein supplement to your daily routine if you find you’re getting too fatigued.

This is critical because Sheiko requires serious commitment and consistency. When fatigued, it’s easy to phone in a workout or skip it entirely. Don’t do it! You must bring focus and intensity to every single session for this methodology to work its magic.

The payoff extends beyond just powerlifting too. The technique practice, mobility work, strongman implement training, and muscle building provide functional fitness benefits. Sheiko will make you bigger, leaner, more athletic, and more muscular, in addition to increasing your total.

And the program can work for any level. Advanced lifters may be better equipped for the fatigue toll. But even beginners can run Sheiko with proper load and volume reductions. There are on-ramps for every ability level.

Sheiko training needs commitment, consistency, work capacity, and recovery ability. It gives significant strength and physique changes as a result. If you have the mindset to weather the storm, historic powerlifting PRs await.

The key is embracing the grind day-in and day-out. Sheiko won’t be easy. But greatness never is.

Use the programming tweaks and customizations we covered to make the methodology your own. You CAN do this!

Now go grab a heavy barbell and show it who’s boss!


Before we wrap up, let’s tackle some frequently asked questions about the Sheiko powerlifting program:

Q: What are the main principles of Sheiko training?

A: The core tenets of Sheiko programming are:

  • High volume on the competition lifts (squat, bench, deadlift)
  • Submaximal loading at specific percentages
  • Frequent technique practice through singles, doubles, triples
  • Structured progression in load and volume
  • Heavy supplementary exercises for weak points
  • Meticulous periodization over training blocks

It’s high frequency, high volume, submaximal powerlifting training centered on technical mastery!

Q: How do I know if I should use the beginner, intermediate or advanced Sheiko programs?

A: Assess your competition experience, current strength levels, and lifts relative to your body weight to identify your level accurately. Beginners are new lifters or have only trained for up to a couple years. Intermediates have trained seriously for 2+ years and have clear plateaus. Advanced lifters have many years of experience and are approaching elite strength levels.

Q: What determines whether I should use small, medium or large load Sheiko?

A: Your body weight determines appropriate loading. Lighter lifters use more volume. The loads are inverted.

Under 80kg uses large load, 80-110kg uses medium load, over 110kg uses small load. Don’t let ego get in the way – pick conservative loads initially.

Q: How long should a typical Sheiko training cycle last?

A: Most programs run between 8-12 weeks for optimal balance of driving progress while managing fatigue. Advanced lifters may be able to sustain 16 week runs. Use a periodized approach with a peak after multiple training blocks.

Q: How should I structure my training week on the Sheiko methodology?

A: Most templates use a 3 days on, 1 day off setup. Squat and bench volume is distributed across all 3 days, while deadlift is trained once. This allows high frequency and volume on competition lifts with adequate recovery between sessions.

Let me know if you have any other Sheiko questions!


After this deep dive into Sheiko powerlifting programming, one thing is clear – it delivers results!

If you’re willing to commit to the high volume, technical practice, and recovery protocols required, your squat, bench, and deadlift can reach new levels.

Just be smart about managing fatigue, and don’t rush into advanced variations until you’ve built a base. Treat Sheiko as a focused peaking program rather than year-round training.

The methodologies Boris Sheiko developed over decades of coaching champions contain proven principles of athletic development. By mastering the core lifts through meticulous, submaximal technique practice, you can express more of your strength potential.

So if you’ve been feeling stuck and want to hit some new strength training PRs, give Sheiko a shot! Follow the guidelines in this article to select the right training level and loads. Embrace the grind, do your mobility work, and watch the PRs start falling.

Sheiko won’t be easy. But if powerlifting was easy, everyone would have a 500 wilks and massive total. Put your head down, trust the process, and reap the strength rewards of your efforts.

You’ve got this! Now get to the gym and make Boris proud. I’ll see you on the platform!

In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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