The Weider Principles - Pt.4 of 4
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) Speed Principle—With conventional bodybuilding training, sets and repetitions as I have elucidated them for you, you should try to train in a controlled, strict manner so that you concentrate, feel and isolate your muscles to the best of your ability. This is the best way to develop a winning physique, one that is shapely, strong and proportionate, as well as massive.
However, many bodybuilders are concerned with gaining size. From my experience with thousands of bodybuilders, I have found that using heavy weights is the best way to develop size. My speed principle is perfect for this.
With the speed principle you handle heavier weights than you are used to. Because you had to do 8-12 reps before, you were forced to use lighter weights. Now I want you to use heavy enough weight that you can only get around 6-7 repetitions (still try to use perfect technique). Now, however, instead of deliberately moving slowly and concentrating on the “feel” of the muscle contraction, you try to explode all the way through the motion with as heavy a weight as you can. Concentrate on getting the weight up fast! Do not use this principle though, until you have has at least six months of consistent training experience behind you. This is crucial! You must develop a base before you can take advantage of this technique. You should not use this technique on any of your lighter warm-up sets. Only concentrate on speed on your heavier sets, all of those that are over 75-85% of your maximum single. In other words, let’s say you are bench-pressing. If you could do 200 pounds one time, you would use about 160-170 pounds for your speed sets (after your warm-ups). When you do these sets, keep good technique, but just think speed and push the weight up as fast as possible. Never sacrifice form!
Why do you do this? I developed the speed principle because your muscular and nervous systems are composed of many different fiber types and nerves. You have fast-acting and slow-acting muscles and different nerves innervate the different types of fibers. If you want to develop all your muscles to their maximum potential, not only should you do slow, concentrated movements, but explosive, heavy movements too. You should not do speed training all the time. Instead, cycle the movements into your yearly training program. They are best used in the early portions of your off-season training when you are concentrating on strength and muscle size.
2) Staggered Sets Principle—The staggered sets principle is really an advanced form of priority training. With priority training, you work your big muscle groups or your slowest developing muscle group first in your training routine. Usually these are the same muscle groups which also require the greatest energy output from your body. By doing them first, you are able to focus on the most important muscles for the development of an outstanding physique. These muscle groups include your legs, chest, back and deltoids (shoulders).
Certain smaller body parts are sometimes very densely muscled and consequently, slower to develop. Nevertheless, they usually don’t require a great deal of energy expenditure to train. With the staggered sets principle, you “stagger” smaller, slower-developing body parts in between sets for larger muscle groups. You can use this technique through your whole workout with whatever major body part you are working.
Here’s the way it works: Muscle groups that are good candidates for staggering are forearms, neck, calves and trapezius. Let’s say you want to concentrate on your forearms, but you are working your thighs as your major body part. Do a set of squats. Instead of resting totally before your next set of squats, take a bar and do a set of wrist curls for your forearms. Do another set of squats followed by another set of wrist curls. You might do four sets of squats and four sets of wrist curls in this manner. Because your forearms are so far removed from your thighs, staggering your sets like this will not take anything away from your thigh workout.
Go ahead and move to your next thigh exercise, say, leg extensions; following each set of those, do a set of a different forearm exercise, like reverse curls. Continue in this manner until you have totally flushed and gorged your forearms with blood. By the end of your session, not only will you have blasted your thighs, but also worked your forearms and you won’t have to work them separately some other day. You’ve therefore accomplished an economic form of hitting your slow-to-develop areas (by the way, you could just as easily do shrugs with thighs or abdominals with shoulders or neck with arms). The point is, you can work any small, slow-to-develop body part without taking anything away from your major area. I also want to point out, you do not always use this staggered sets principle, but only when you really want to bring up a weaker, smaller part.