The Weider Principles - Pt.3
The Foundation of Modern Bodybuilding - Joe Weider
What distinguishes the modern-day bodybuilder from those who came before 1940? Today’s champions are bigger, better-proportioned, more muscular and stronger than those of the past. Yes, better nutrition has played a part and, in a few sad cases, dangerous and sometimes illegal anabolic steroids have played a part too. However, the major reason there are bigger, more powerful men today is the Weider Bodybuilding System.
Years ago, there was no bodybuilding either. There were only weightlifters and strongmen. Those who tried bodybuilding didn’t get very far because there were no scientific methods of training then, suitable for real bodybuilding success. Instead, everything was geared to strength training. Then I came along. My principles created the foundation for modern-day bodybuilding.
I brought organization and discipline into an area of utter confusion. With my principles, bodybuilding grew into a real sport with scientific underpinnings. Since science doesn’t stand still, bodybuilding training doesn’t either. This is why it has taken me more than 45 years to perfect a common body building language, a coherent, logical, organized system—the Weider System.
I have devoted my life to the study of the training techniques of the champions. I have experimented with training all my life and commissioned others to do the same. My extensive cataloging of principles is based on what the champions have used and found beneficial in gyms throughout the world. What has evolved is the Weider System.
Look around you. What champions today do not employ the Weider Principles? You see bodybuilders using giant sets, supersets, the double-split system, forced repetitions… Where do you think these methods came from? Who discovered them, who named them, who promoted them, who tied them together into a progressive system where beginners, intermediates and advanced bodybuilders could all make gains? Joe Weider.
You long-time readers of many bodybuilding and fitness magazines know the answers. You know about the Weider Principles and how, when and where to use them for maximum gains. However, every month we have hundreds of new readers who are beginning bodybuilders. To help you newcomers understand how to incorporate them into your training and maximally benefit from them, here is a list of my principles and a brief explanation of each. From time to time we will present a detailed analysis of these principles to help you move into modern bodybuilding and reach your full potential as a bodybuilder. To know the Weider System is to know how to become a great bodybuilder.
1) Reverse-Gravity Training Principle—Resisting the downward force of your training weights as you lower them is a very intense form of training that produces a great deal of muscle soreness and is an excellent way to stimulate maximum muscle growth. Reverse-Gravity (negative/eccentric) training should only be done on an occasional basis. For instance, in doing a barbell curl, let’s say you can handle 100 pound for eight reps. Have a partner help you bring a 120-pound barbell up to your shoulders, or if you’re training alone swing it up to your shoulders and then lower it slowly in a strict style to the starting position for a strong eight reps. This method of training strengthens your muscles and connective tissues and helps you to increase your strength faster. You can also apply this technique to weaker body parts in order to balance them with the remainder of your physique, a process that is best accomplished during an off-season cycle.
2) Forced Reps Training Principle—I mentioned earlier that this is one of my most misunderstood training principles. It is a very intense training method, and many bodybuilders will overtrain if they attempt to use forced reps too much. Those stars who use forced reps (e.g., Bertil Fox, Tom Platz, Matt Mendenhall, et al.) are usually men of tremendous power and concentration, men who have been blessed with favorable genetics for bodybuilding. And even they use forced reps sparingly. As an example of forced reps, let’s say that you can bench press 225 pounds for eight reps. When you have reached this eight rep, you have a training partner standing at the head of the bench pull up on the middle of the bar just enough so you can squeeze out 2-3 additional forced reps past the point at which you would normally fail to complete a full rep under your own power. Forced reps push your muscle fibers beyond normal fatigue to stimulate even greater growth and muscular density.
3) Double-Split Training Principle—Many bodybuilders today work one or two body parts alone in the morning, and then return to the gym in the late afternoon or evening to train another body part or two. This is the famous Weider Double-Split System. The advantage is obvious. By training just one or two body parts per session, you can devote all your energy to these body parts, doing more sets and handling greater weights, and thereby stimulating more muscle growth.
4) Triple-Split Training Principle—There are a few bodybuilders who have tremendous recovery rates and can benefit by the same reasoning as above by training three times a day; working a different bodypart each session. Albert Beckles, one of my greatest champions, is such a bodybuilder.
5) Burns Training Principle—When you do 2-3 short partial reps at the end of your regular set, you bring extra blood and lactic acid into the muscle you’re training. This increased lactate causes the discomfort known as burns. Physiologically, the fatigue products and extra blood carried into the muscle by these partial movements swell the cells and cause capillaries to proliferate. All of this contributes to increased size and vascularity in the muscles. Larry Scott, one of my pupils and our first Mr. Olympia, uses this technique on almost all his exercises.
6) Quality Training Principle—Quality training means that you gradually reduce your between-sets rest time while still trying to do the same number of repetitions or even more than before. Quality or pre-contest training is great for increasing your muscle definition and vascularity.
7) Descending Sets Training Principle—This method is also called “stripping” to many bodybuilders. My heavy-to-light system requires that you have two training partners who strip the weight off each side of your bar when you have completed all the reps you can do with that weight, making the barbell lighter and enabling you to grind out a couple more reps. Thus, you extend your set by stripping weights. This is a way to increase intensity on each set, but it’s very hard work and you shouldn’t practice this principle on more than 1-2 exercises per workout.
8) Instinctive Training Principle—There is one overriding rule in bodybuilding. Only you can know what works best for your body. Eventually all bodybuilders must attain the ability to construct routines, groups of exercises, and sets and reps that work best for them. If they don’t, they’ll never reach their full potential. Each person responds differently to different diet and exercise schemes. With experience, you’ll know instinctively how to exercise for the best gains. Remember: You are unique, and you must train to reflect that fact!
9) Eclectic Training Principle—Combining mass building and isolation-refinement movements into a specific training system is eclectic training. This Technique means you choose a variety of movements and general principles that work best for you in your system of training. When you combine this principle along with the Instinctive Principle, you are approaching the ultimate in training for strengthening, shaping and muscular growth.
10) Partial Reps Training Principle—As a means of increasing physical power and size, you can do partial reps at the beginning, midpoint and finish position of basic exercises. This method is best used with a power rack on which you can set pins at each height to support the barbell. You can use much heavier poundages when doing partial reps, which greatly strengthens the ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues, and which in turn builds great strength at a very fast pace. For another example, let’s use the two-arm chin behind neck. You can chin all the way up with no weights attached to your body. However, if you add 50 pounds to your waist, you will be able to chin only halfway up, which proves that doing the full rep with no weight does not develop the powerful muscles that come into action at the beginning of the chin to their fullest. The weak link in the chin, about halfway up, restricts the total benefit of exercise. That is why doing a partial rep with heavy weight is beneficial in developing ultimate mass and power in each muscle group. That is also why partial reps can be used by advanced bodybuilders to overcome weak areas.