This article will attempt to explain the
Weider principles of bodybuilding, created by Joe Weider, whom I
consider the father of modern bodybuilding. The principles which
follow are not for use by all. After the name of each principle,
there will be a B, I, or A in parenthesis. These stand for
beginner, intermediate, and advanced, respectively. There will
also be an example given for each principle.
Pre-Exhaustion Training (A) - Prefatiguing a larger
muscle with an isolation, single-joint movement so it can be
even more exhausted by the compound movements to follow. When
you do an exercise like the bench press that works not only the
chest, but also smaller muscles, one of the smaller muscles
might fail before your chest is fully exhausted. By doing a
chest isolation exercise beforehand, you can fatigue your chest
so you can do bench presses to chest failure, which is what you
Muscle Priority Training (I & A) - Training your
most underdeveloped muscles first, so as to subject it to the
maximum possible effort. If you have a weak body-part you want
to improve, train it first in your workout, before you begin to
Pyramiding (B, I, & A) - When using multiple sets
for a given exercise, doing your first set with less weight for
more reps, gradually increasing the weight and decreasing the
reps over the remainder of your sets. This allows you to
gradually warm up a muscle group, preparing it for the
resistance to come in the next set.
Supersets (I & A) - Working opposing muscle groups
in back-to-back fashion, taking as little rest as possible in
between sets. Alternating sets between opposing muscle groups -
such as biceps and triceps/chest and back - greatly increases
intensity. When you train one muscle group, the other is
recovering (sometimes even being stretched) as you complete the
set. With two muscles or muscle groups being worked, more blood
is pumped into the area.
Tri-Sets (A) - Doing three sets in a row for the same
body-part with as little rest as possible in between sets. Three
exercises in a row more thoroughly exhaust the muscle. This
training technique is so demanding that it should only be done
on occasion, and is more often used by bodybuilders in their
pre-contest training. It is not optimal for muscle building.
Set System Training (B, I, & A) - Simply doing
more than one set for each exercise. This is the opposite of
high-intensity training, which involves performing one set per
exercise. Often, the first couple of sets aren't enough to
fatigue your muscle.
Giant Sets (A) - Doing 4-6 exercises for the same
body-part with as little rest between sets. Giant sets are used
to create overwhelming stimulation to a body-part and totally
exhaust the muscles involved. This technique should only be used
occasionally as your body needs time to recover from this level
of effort. This type of training is used more for muscular
endurance and calorie burning then for putting on muscle size.
Instinctive Training (A) - This involves experimenting
with your workouts and paying attention to how your body reacts
to certain types of training. The fundamentals of bodybuilding
training are the same for everyone, but we are all unique. The
further along you get in your training, the more you have to
fine tune your workouts to suit your needs. It takes time to
develop this "feel" and have this type of knowledge.
Whatever you are used to is going to feel best for you, but you
have to figure out what really produces the best results for you
and make adjustments accordingly.
Compound Sets (I & A) - Alternating two exercises
for the same muscle group, taking as little rest as possible
between each set. Each same-bodypart exercise fatigues the
muscle involved in slightly different ways, so doing two
exercises in a row with little rest inbetween achieves a deeper
level of stimulation and muscle pump. Keep in mind that I do not
personally agree with the rest aspect of this principle. That is
just how Mr. Weider presented it.
Staggered Sets (I & A) - Training smaller,
slower-developing bodyparts like calves or forearms in between
all sets for your major bodyparts. Arnold Schwarzenegger relied
on this principle early in his career to develop his calves. He
would do a set for chest, back or shoulders, then he would do a
set of calf raises while his major muscle group was recovering
for the next set. He'd then alternate sets for the working
bodypart and calves. His calves got plenty of time to recover
in-between sets and by the end of his workout, he would have
subjected them to as many as 15-20 total sets of various calf
These are only ten of the Weider principles. Use the label.
Good luck with bodybuilding, and feel free to email me if you
have any questions.