Weider Training Principles were once all the rage.
Developed by Joe Weider, the acknowledged “Father of Bodybuilding” back in the late 50s and early 60s, they included ideas such as splitting workouts, and were a guide for people learning how to train to develop a system that worked for them. It wasn’t a strict set of rules that were absolute “musts” for growth – it was a map toward progress and the ability to put in one’s own stops along the way.
Then, around the 80s and 90s, the Weider principles became the butt of jokes at local gyms and bodybuilding hangouts in Venice and beyond. But as things fall in and out of fashion, have the Weider Training Principles – in aggregate – fallen out of favor?
Truth is, they’re back in favor – in a big way.
Jokes about the principles typically centered around the fact that the Weider publications – FLEX and Muscle & Fitness – regurgitated them in nearly all their articles. This was a hit to credibility and the magazines soon began deviating from mentioning them until practically no mention was ever made at all.
But Weider developed what many today can look back on and see as precursors to nearly all the popular training methods favored today by bodybuilders, and strength athletes. The Isolation or Iso-Tension Principle and Continuous Tension Principle may have been the seed that germinated HIIT training.
The Cheating Principle, coupled with the Forced Rep and Flushing Training Principles are certainly in line with rapid, nonstop training that makes for the best glycogen-burning exercises in the week or so before a show, or when someone is eager to build endurance and combine cardio with weight training to get a leaner look.
Weider Principles helped people learn how to arrange workouts, how to execute and perform exercises within routines, and helped determine set types and choices. They still do today, though hardly anyone credits Weider for the various splits and routines they use.
Foundation principles such as Cycle Training Principle – where a bodybuilder breaks his whole year into logical sectors designed to boost strength, ready him for competition, or avoid injury – is something no one had thought of previously.
Weider’s Muscle Confusion Principle and Instinctive Training Principle, helped strength and physique athletes realize that too much of a good thing, too often, can only end up in muscle habituation. Learning how to change things up – both in a plan written down on paper, and on the spot – is key to becoming a top athlete in either discipline.
Arranging workouts with the principles, meant learning about muscle priority – working bigger muscles first and intelligently fatiguing muscle groups while still leaving enough energy to finish a second grouping. From giant sets, pyramid sets, staggered sets, and super sets, to rest-pause, tri-sets and compound sets, Weider covered all bases.
Like a well-crafted film, his principles had all of the elements of intrigue: Cheating, Tension, Force, Overcompensation, and Burn. But what they had most is common sense.
Weider said that the Law of Individual Differences means that our bodies differ and that we respond to stimulus – such as training – differently from those around us. Knowing how to construct a routine being a different body, is what Weider aimed to teach an eager world or gym rats. And it’s that very thing that his whole system has offered young, old, beginner and advanced weight training enthusiasts ever since.
Do today’s modern bodybuilders utilize each and every of Weider’s principles? You bet! In fact, it is the backbone of every choice a lifter makes in the gym today, pertaining to his workout.