It’s official. I put my entry form for the Old School Iron Wars powerlifting meet in the mail yesterday. In the words of Kevin Hart…
Two weeks down, seven to go. The first two weeks of Sheiko have been fun. And by fun I mean absolutely bone crushing. Let’s look at the math:
- 2 weeks
- 9 training sessions
- Squats: 57 sets, 216 reps
- Bench Presses: 74 sets, 281 reps
- Deadlifts: 61 sets, 195 reps
- Total Competition Lifts: 192 sets, 692 reps
Talk about specificity. It looks like a TON of volume. And it is. But the keys here are specificity and intensity. I’m getting a ton of work with the competition lifts (which is needed this close to a meet) but most of it is in the range of 70-80 percent of 1RM. Most smart coaches will tell you that’s the best range to train in for strength gains if you’re a raw, drug-free lifter – not the 90-plus range that some people swear by.
This lets me get my work in, recover for the next session and attack the competition lifts several times per week. No sets are to failure and I’ve yet to go above 405 on the squat, 300 on the bench and 440 on the deadlift – all well shy of my maxes. But I’m OK with that.
Things will get heavy soon. For now, even though the weights aren’t getting progressively heavier, I’m still getting stronger. Why? Because things are getting easier. The first time I squatted 405×3 for 5 sets, it was torture. I’m talking “trying-to-talk-myself-out-of-every-set”, “8-minute-rest-peroids” torture. But now I’m crushing them with speed. The same with the bench press – I used to need a hand-off out of the rack with anything over 250. Now I’m hitting 280 for multiple triples with authority AND no hand-off. That’s progress if you ask me.
A while back, I read an article by Dan John that suggested the true hard gainer train every single day for an extended period of time with the exact same weights and exercises. That sounds ridiculous at first. But if said hard gainer can do what was difficult on Day 1, then do it in their sleep on Day 30, they are significantly stronger. It’s an interesting alternative to the usual “must do more weight or more reps” approach that eventually and inevitably grinds to a halt. I’m not sure I could handle the monotony of that, but it illustrates to point that doing more weight or reps aren’t the only measurements of progress.
An important note – this style of training is not sustainable. I’ve taken a crack at long-term Sheiko and the end results weren’t pretty. You can’t bench press three times a week and deadlift twice a week and stay healthy in the long run. I’m doing everything I can to ward off the negative effects of being so irresponsible (hitting mobility, upper back and sled dragging on off days and eating like I’m days away from hibernating), but after my meet I’ll shift back to a more “balanced” approach.