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The Weider Principles, a list of weightlifting truisms gathered and honed by the father of bodybuilding Joe Weider, have stood the test of time.

We highly recommend that you use them, too, as you learn and advance your muscle-building efforts.

Program Design

Cycle Training

Devote portions of your training year to specific goals for strength, mass or getting cut. This can help decrease your risk of injury and add variety to your routine. Cycle periods of high intensity and low intensity to allow for recovery and spur new gains.

Eclectic Training

Incorporate a diverse selection of variables, such as set, rep and exercise schemes, into your workout. Bodypart routines should utilize both mass-building multijoint moves and single-joint exercises.

Instinctive Training

Experiment to develop an instinct as to what works best for you. Use your training results along with past experiences to constantly fine-tune your program. Go by feel in the gym: If your biceps just don’’t feel like they’’ve recovered from the last workout, do another bodypart that day instead.

Muscle Confusion

Constantly change variables in your workout –— number of sets, number of reps, exercise choice, order of exercises, length of your rest periods –— to avoid getting in a rut and slowing growth.

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Intensity Boosters

Continuous Tension

Don’’t allow a given muscle to rest at the top or bottom of a movement. Control both the positive and negative portions of a rep and avoid momentum to maintain constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.

Flushing Training

Train one bodypart with multiple exercises (3-–4) before you train another. The “flushing”” is your body sending a maximum amount of blood and muscle-building nutrients to that area to best stimulate growth.

Holistic Training

Use numerous training techniques (low and high reps, faster and slower speeds, and alternate exercises) to stimulate maximum muscle fibers. Don’’t always approach exercises with the same 6-–10-repetition sets; try lightening the load and going for 20 reps in some training sessions to build endurancerelated muscle fibers.

Isolation Training

This is a technique designed to work individual muscles without involving adjacent muscles or muscle groups. A pressdown for triceps (rather than a close-grip bench press) is an example of an isolation movement.

Iso-Tension

Between sets (or even between workouts), flex and hold various muscles for 6-–10 seconds, keeping them fully contracted before releasing. Competitive bodybuilders use this technique to enhance their posing ability through increased muscle control.

Muscle Priority

Hit your weakest bodypart first in a workout or bodypart split, when you can train with more weight and intensity because your energy level is higher.

Peak Contraction

Squeeze your contracted muscle isometrically at the endpoint of a rep to intensify effort. Hold the weight in the fully contracted position for up to two seconds at the top of an exercise.

Progressive Overload

To continue making gains, your muscles need to work harder in a progressive manner from one workout to the next. During most of your training cycle, try to increase your weights each session, do more reps or sets, or decrease your rest periods between sets.

Pyramid Training

Incorporate a range of lighter to heavier weights for each exercise. Start light with higher reps (12-15) to warm up the muscle, then gradually increase the weight in each successive set while lowering your reps (6-–8). You could also reverse the procedure –— moving from high weight and low reps to low weight and high reps, aka a reverse pyramid.

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Advanced Training Techniques

Supersets 

Perform sets of two exercises for the same or different muscle groups back-to-back with no rest in between.

Tri-Sets

Perform three consecutive exercises for one muscle group in nonstop sequence.

Giant Sets

Four or more exercises for one muscle group performed in back-to-back fashion without rest in between.

Burns

Continue a set past the point at which you can lift a weight through a full or even partial range of motion with a series of rapid partial reps. Do this as long as your muscles can move the weight, even if only a few inches.

Cheating 

Use momentum (a slight swing of the weight) to overcome a sticking point as you fatigue near the end of a set. While doing heavy barbell curls, for example, you might be able to perform only eight strict reps to failure. A subtle swing of the weight or a slightly faster rep speed may help you get 1-2 additional reps. For advanced bodybuilders only.

Descending or Drop Sets

After completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar or select lighter dumbbells. Continue to do reps until you fail, then strip more weight off to complete even more reps.

Forced Reps

Have a training partner assist you with reps at the end of a set to help you train past the point of momentary muscular failure. Your training partner will lift the bar with just enough force to get you past the sticking point.

Negatives

Resist the downward motion of a very heavy weight. For example, on the bench press, use a weight that’s 15%-25% heavier than you can typically handle, and fight the negative as you slowly lower the bar to your chest. Have your partner assist with the positive portion of the rep.

Partial Reps

Do reps involving only a partial range — at the top, in the middle or at the bottom — of a movement.

Pre-Exhaustion

Pre-exhaust a muscle with a single-joint exercise before performing a multijoint movement. In leg training, you can start with leg extensions (which target the quads) before a set of squats (which also work the glutes and hamstrings).

Rest-Pause

Take brief rest periods during a set of a given exercise to squeeze more reps out of a set. Use a weight you can lift for 2-3 reps, rest as long as 20 seconds, then try for another 2-3 reps. Take another brief rest and go again for as many reps as you can handle, and repeat one more time.