I also posted this in the powerlifting forum, but thought some people here might appreciate it.
For those who don't know what Sheiko is, it's a Russian powerlifting program centered around high volume of the big 3 powerlifting movements (squat, bench press, and deadlift). Essentially every workout has 2 of those movements in it, with one of the movements or a variation of it being repeated twice in the same workout. For example, a typical week's workouts would look like this:
Monday: Squat - bench - Squat - accessory lifts
Wednesday: deadlift - Bench - deadlift - accessory lifts
Friday: Bench - squat - bench - accessory lifts
I ran Sheiko from the beginning of May until my first meet last Saturday, so about 7 months total. I ran 29-37-32, then 29-37-31-32. These numbers correspond to different training cycles, with 29 and 37 being good introductory/beginner prep cycles, 31 being a more intermediate/advanced prep cycle, and 32 is a peaking cycle meant to be run a month before a powerlifting meet.
My lifts increased as follows:
Squat: 350 --> 405
Bench Press: 310 --> 336
Deadlift: 475 --> 507
So an increase of 113lbs to my total.
For the first 3 month cycle I tried to stick to the program as it was laid out as closely as possible, with the exception of taking out lunges because they pinch my lower back in a weird way. After becoming familiarized with the program and analyzing what seemed necessary and what wasn't, I started switching out certain exercises. For example, I switched cable flyes for DB flyes, and hyperextensions for good mornings simply because I liked those exercises better and felt they were more beneficial to me.
For most of the program I also would add in a 4th back/shoulders/biceps hypertrophy day since the program is particularly lacking in pulling movements besides deadlifts.
The one thing Sheiko did not work for me was deadlifts. After doing the first 3 month cycle doing lots of paused deadlifts and rackpulls I only added 5lbs to my deadlift max (it should probably be noted however that I did rackpulls instead of deadlift from boxes because I didn't have any boxes at my gym - if I used deadlift from boxes as prescribed I wonder if the outcome would have been different). In general when I did deadlifts if I could get it up to at least mid-shin I could always finish the pull, so I figured my weakness was off the floor. So starting my 2nd 4-month block I dropped the paused deadlifts and just did them as regular deadlifts, and swapped rackpulls for deficit deadlifts. After 2 months of doing this my deadlift still didn't seem to be improving at all, so I consulted some people on the forums knowledgable of Sheiko (notably MISSINGLINK who followed ChaseTs Sheiko work here) he suggested just doing 5 sets of 3 at 80% of my 1RM (a common rep scheme from Sheiko) and then addressing your weaknesses as you see fit. So for Sheiko 31 I did the 5 sets of 3 at 80%, and then would do 4 sets of 315 x 3 deficit deadlifts to help address my weakness off the floor. Switching to this yielded a 27lb bump to my deadlift max in 2 months, and worked much better than the prescribed Sheiko work for deadlifts.
When I started Sheiko I had never really done a paused rep on bench press. Starting the program the benching portion was too easy, so I ended up pausing every rep to make it harder. The only time I wouldn't pause a rep would be occasionally on the huge pyramid sets where you end up doing sets of 10-12 on the bottom sets of the pyramid, and by then my chest would be so fatigued I would usually just do touch-and-go on those last couple sets. When it came time for my competition doing a paused rep was 2nd nature to me and I felt very prepared.
About 5 months in to Sheiko my shoulders started giving me greif from benching 3x a week, so as a result I slowly moved in my grip closer and closer until I was doing all my bench sets as CGBP. After taking some time off before the meet my shoulders now seem fine though.
Pros of Sheiko:
- tons of volume on the big 3 so it really helps to engrain good form
- helps build confidence in that you never do more than 85% of your 1RM so every set is definitely "doable" but you have those moments where you start to doubt yourself i.e. "crap there's no way I can do 7 sets of 245 on bench" but then you think about it and you're like yes it is definitely PHYSICALLY possible and you push through it (I only missed about 3 reps during my entire 7 months)
- great for conditioning because you're forced to do so much volume, and as a result your rest times become fairly low (on average it was 1-2 minute for bench and squat, and 2-4 minutes for deadlifts)
Cons of Sheiko:
- Definitely can get boring doing the same lifts day in and day out over and over
- workouts are LONG and HARD: my workouts (not including warming up and stretching/foam rolling after) averaged 2-2.5 hours. Throw in warming up and the stretching stuff, and we're talking 3-4 hours in the gym easy (yes strong life)
- no pulling movements in the program at all besides deadlift
- nothing to address postural imbalances created by so much benching
One thing to note though is that if you're a natty lifter it can definitely run you into the ground. By the end of my training block leading up to the meet I had a laundry list of nagging injuries: shoulders hurt, knees hurt, and my cubetal fossa (the area opposite of the elbow where you're forarm and bicep meet) starting hurting really bad: Sheiko can be hard as hell on the joints and tendons because it is so damn volume heavy. Part of this might have been than I ran 31 which is a more advanced/volume-heavy cycle than 29 and 37, but I think if you keep upping you're training maxes on any of the Sheiko cycles eventually you're going to get small injuries here and there which will add up and affect your training.
All that being said, overall Sheiko is a great program and I definitely would recommend it. Doing Sheiko helped me basically fully transition into powerlifting, which I am happy about (previous to Sheiko I ran 5/3/1 for 6 months but focused mainly on the bodybuilding accessory stuff).
Thread: 7 Months on Sheiko - A Report