Weider Training Principles

My article will attempt to explain you the Weider training principles of bodybuilding. The principles which follow are not for use by all. These Principles are a list of rules designed by Joe Weider, father of the modern bodybuilding. These principles, which have passed the test of time, have guided the whole series of cultures around the world. Here they are, grouped into three categories:

  • Helping to plan your training principles.
  • Helping to organize your exercise principles.
  • Helping to learn the execution of each exercise principles.
Weider Training Principles
Weider Training Principles

Helping to plan your training principles (Weider Training Principles):

  1. Cyclical training principle – assume creating training cycles by dividing the year in periods, to train strength, to build muscles, or to prepair for competition (defining).
  2. Separate training principle – splitting the week into programs that train the upper body and lower body.
  3. Sharing training in double sets or triple sets principle – it is a principle that just a few of us can respect. It implies splitting the training into two or three sessions a day.
  4. Muscle Confusion Principle – exercise variations, number of sets, repetitions, weights, angles to avoid muscle adaptation. If there is someone who doesn’t make these variations, it would be good to do it because the muscles become accustomed to a constant stress period of the same kind, it is said that the muscle has “it’s brain”.
  5. The progressive loading principle – for physical fitness, muscles should be forced more than usual, which means we have to request from them very much, in a constant manner. To obtain a higher force, heavier weights must be used. Also for the development of the mass heavier weights are not the only ones to be raised, we have to rise also sets and repetitions. Muscle resistance is developed by shortening the pause time between sets, or by increasing the number of repetitions or sets.
  6. The holistic training principle – here we talk about phases muscle fibers and slow muscle fibers, which react differently to the types of training. For the development of all muscle cells at their true capacity, you need to vary the number of repetitions in each exercise. For example, at the first set you can make 15 reps, and at the second you make 10, the third, 8, and at the last one, execute only 6.
  7. Eclectic training principle – involves combining gaining mass, strength and isolation exercises.
  8. Instinctive training principle – this workout can be combined with the eclectic one, offering best results. Instinctive training implies that you take advantage of the experience you have gained and the observations you make to build your training programs, diet, cycles, intensity levels, etc..

Helping to organize your exercise principles (Weider Training Principles):

  1. The principle of system sets – it may seem strange but in the past, there were bodybuilders who were doing just one set of exercise. They believed in training the whole body and were about 12 exercises per training, so 12 sets per training.
  2. Superset principle – this principle involves the execution of two consecutive exercises, with little or no break time between two opposing muscles (example: biceps & triceps, quadriceps & femoral biceps). It has been scientifically proven that it also helps to use supersets at the neurological level. Biceps have a much faster recovery if they work in combination with triceps. It has been scientifically proven that using supersets helps also the neurological level. Biceps recovery is much faster if it’s trained in combination with triceps.
  3. Principle sets composed – two exercises that work on the same muscle, with a little break time between them, must be alternated here. By principle, we should get extra pumping.
  4. The tri-sets principle – exercise 3 exercises for the same muscle, with a little break time between them. Tri-set is a good modeling technique, as the muscle is hit from 3 angles and its vascularization is improved.
  5. The giant sets principle – the giant sets involve binding 4 or more exercises for the same group of muscle.
  6. The intercalate sets principle – consists of integrating a few exercises for small muscle groups, into the breaks between exercises for large muscle groups.
  7. The break-rest principle – this principle is good for developing strength and muscle mass. The technique allows you to raise the maximum weight within the same set. How should you do? Choose a weight with which to perform 2-3 reps, pause 30-45 seconds, make 2-3 reps again, pause again and perform 2-3 reps. It is indicated to make a set of 7-10 reps with the maximum weight.
  8. Muscle Prioritization Principle – Generally, the deficient muscle group should be worked out at first when energy is at its peak. If you have less developed shoulders, start exercises with exercises dedicated to this group before training for your chest. That’s how you’ll be sure, you’ll train shoulders at maximum intensity.
  9. The pre-exhaustion principle – this principle consists in “stressing” a muscle group to exhaustion with an isolation exercise, just before performing an exercise involving a complete, composite composite movement that works the muscles.
  10. The pyramidal training principle – it is true that lifting heavy weights lead to the development of strength and muscle mass, but starting with a set of heavy weight can also mean shortening the sport session due to an injury. Each exercise should start with a set of 15 repetitions, at 60% of the maximum capacity. And you’re still adding weight until you reach the 80% intensity and probably six reps. So in principle, it’s good to have a warm up set.
  11. The principle of descending sets – it consists in reducing the weight with each set but keeping the number of repetitions. That would be a matter of two training partners who would be prepared to remove weights from the bar, for example, when the exhaustion with a certain weight was reached, in order to reach a new point of exhaustion with a lower weight. It is not advisable to do these sets in more than two exercises per training session.

Helping to learn the execution of each exercise principles (Weider Training Principles):

  1. The principle of isolation – muscles can be trained within a unit or individually. All muscles are more or less involved in each movement – as stabilizers, agonists, antagonists or synergists. To develop the muscles harmonious, it is required to train the muscles in a singular way. For example, dumbbells isolates the chest more effectively than the bar push to the horizontal bank.
  2. The principle of quality – this principle involves decreasing pause time between sets keeping or even increasing the number of sets. This helps to achieve definition and vascularization.
  3. The cheating principle – it can be a wrong method used and sometimes even used to the idea that it is permanently correct. Cheating should not ease work, but help you use larger weights and put more tension on your muscles. For this reason, this technique should be used just to help you perform more than 2 afflicted repetitions per set, receiving help from some body muscles, other than the one worked.
  4. The principle of continuous tension – balance and motion inertia of the movement are the greatest enemies of the muscles. If you quickly execute certain exercises, you rely on inertia rather than muscle strength. It is better to train more slowly and highly focused, keeping muscles constantly stimulated.
  5. Principle of forced repetition – we are talking in this case about assisted reps.
  6. The principle of muscle exhaustion – this principle consists of performing 3-4 exercises for each muscle group.
  7. The burning principle (pumping) – this principle is used for the intense stimulation of lactic acid and for vascularisation of muscles. The excess of lactic acid leads to the feeling of burning the muscle. Specifically, it involves extending the set with two of three shorter reps.
  8. Partial reps principle – for the development of strength and muscle mass, it is sometimes possible to execute only the beginning, middle or ending phase of an exercise. These are partial repetitions. To avoid over-training, it is advisable to use it just once a week.
  9. The retro-gravity principle – an intense form of training can also be achieved by the negative movement that a muscle holds. This can lead to muscle pain, but it can also lead to maximum muscle development. This method is generally used for deficient muscle groups.
  10. The peak contraction principle – the principle consists in keeping the muscles in the position of maximum contraction.
  11. The super speed principle – it consists in making certain sets with a faster speed, a boom on the positive side to reach the phasic fibers.
  12. The isotency principle – think it’s probably the most misunderstood principle. Iso-tension involves controlling movement, as if you were taking pictures. It’s a self-control muscular method that many professional bodybuilders use. It’s used commonly outside the training program. You have to tension your muscles 3 times for 3-6 seconds, flexing the muscles in different positions for about 30-40 times.

Use all the principles wisely, and let us know your experience level. Good luck with bodybuilding, and feel free to email or call me if you have any questions.


  • Bompa, T., Cornacchia, L., (1998), Serious Strength Training, Human Kinetics Book, U.S.A.;
  • Eickhoff-Shemek, J., Berg, K., (2003), Physical Fitness. Guideliness for Success;
  • Mazzetti, S., (2007), Effect of explosive versus slow contractions and exercise intensity on energy expenditure, Med & Sci in Sports & Exercise;
  • Weider, J., Reynolds, B., (1989), Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding, McGraw-Hill;
  • Weider, J.,(1981), Bodybuilding the Weider Approach, Contemporary Books Inc., Chicago.

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