On June 3rd I gave my presentation on the Sheiko system at TPS.
For those of you that do not know me well, I have been coached by Boris for my almost two years in the sport of powerlifting.
To say that I have learned a lot is an understatement.
There is an old statement that has been echoed by the greats of the sport that states “Treat light weights as if they are heavy and heavy weights as if they are light.” The idea is to focus on accelerating the weight as fast as you can on every set.
However, should you accelerate lighter weights?
The idea behind this method is that the more speed we get on the bar, the easier the weight will move past our sticking points. For example, every raw lifter has a sticking point on the squat just above parallel. The idea would be to accelerate the weight as fast as possible from the hole to bypass this sticking point.
During the practical portion of the seminar, I saw a lot of the participants doing this.
Sheiko programs many variations that go against this wisdom.
For example, I have paused many times for 2 seconds on the halfway up on the squat. In this variation the athlete takes it down to depth and comes up to the halfway point and holds it for 2 seconds. After the pause the lifter will lockout the weight.
A common question that arises from this is “Doesn’t that train the athlete to decelerate the weight?”
The answer is no.
It trains the athlete to fight hard to maintain positions in the weak spots of the lift.
Watch any miss on the platform.
You will usually see the lifter slow down out of the hole followed by the knees caving in and the back rounding over.
Pausing in this position for 2 seconds trains the athlete to keep pushing his chest up and knees out when coming out of the hole.
This variation will also help improve the “good morning” squat as the lifter will not be able to pause with the bar in that position.
Movement velocity and intent are two entirely different things. Sheiko wants me to practice all of my lifts as if it were heavy weight on the platform.
The bar will not move quickly here. I want to prepare my body for that fight through the weak spots of the lift.
When we move fast through every rep our goal is to lock the weight out fast. Often times this may not prepare the lifter for the fight on the platform.
If the lifter is losing position out of the hole on the squat and performing a “good morning” squat, they will miss the weight if they do not accelerate the weight fast enough.
The problem is, sometimes the heavy weights do not move fast enough to let us lock them out under these conditions.
If the weight does not move fast enough, there is no fight here, it is a missed lift.
If you don’t believe me try pausing with 75% of one rep max in this position.
What we want is to hit this sticking point in a position that gives us a chance to fight and lockout heavier weights.
With the chest up and bar over the center of the foot, we are in a better position to fight.
Taking every rep at the same speed as our max, trains us to fight for this position as if we were on the platform.
During a powerlifting competition, when emotions are high, a lifter will always revert back to how they train.
This goes along with the saying in sports “you practice how you play.” We have trained for this moment the entire training cycle.
This does not mean that focusing on accelerating every set is wrong.
It isn’t because it works too. It just depends on where the coach lies on the technique and strength spectrum.
As the athlete gets stronger, they will increase the weights where it slows down enough to cause a miss.
Also, as the athlete gets stronger the technique with lighter weights will improve somewhat.
Sheiko believes that technique is the most important aspect of training.
This is something that I took from him as I have experienced firsthand how improvements in technique lead to gains in strength.
This also makes sense to me from my experiences playing other sports.
Other coaches may feel that the athlete just needs to train hard and get stronger. Other coaches can fall somewhere in the middle.
So to circle back, should you accelerate lighter weights?
The answer is listen to your coach.
If you have a coach that you trust (if you don’t trust in them get rid of them) do what they say.
I do what my coach tells me and my athletes do what I tell them. We take every rep as if it were a max attempt on the platform.
If you try to move lighter weights fast, that is fine too.
This is just another way of skinning the cat.
by: Kevin Cann