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Growth Principles
Courtesy of Muscle & Fitness Magazine

February 28th, 2004

Maximize your training with these 29 Weider Principles within the arsenal of Weider Training Principles is everything you need to know to achieve success in the gym. Developed by the Master Blaster himself, Joe Weider, the principles provide a common training language for bodybuilders worldwide. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced bodybuilders can use these principles to help plan a training cycle, arrange workouts and perform each exercise to its utmost muscle-building potential.

To Design Your Regimen

1. Cycle Training: Devote portions of your training year to specific goals for strength, mass or getting cut. This can help decrease your risk of injury and add variety to your routine. Cycle periods of high intensity and low intensity to allow for recovery and spur new gains.
2. Eclectic Training: Incorporate a diverse selection of variables, such as set, rep and exercise schemes, in your workout. Bodypart routines should incorporate both mass-building, multi-joint movements and single-joint exercises.
3. Instinctive Training: Experiment to help develop an instinct as to what works best for you. Use your training results along with past experiences to constantly fine-tune your program. Go on feel in the gym: If your biceps just don’t feel like they’ve recovered from the last workout, do another bodypart that day instead.
4. Muscle Confusion: Constantly change variables in your workout – number of sets, number of reps, exercise choice, order of exercise, length of your rest periods – to avoid getting in a rut and slowing growth.
5. Set System: Perform multiple sets of each exercise to give the target muscle a more thorough workout for optimal growth.
6. Split System: Divide bodyparts over multiple workouts so you can train individual muscle groups more completely and perform each workout with more intensity. A sample split: chest and triceps one day, legs the next, back and biceps the third workout, and shoulders and abs on day four.

To Intensify Your Workout

7. Continuous Tension: Don’t allow a given muscle to rest at the top or bottom of the movement. Control both the positive and negative portions of a rep and avoid momentum to maintain constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.
8. Flushing Training: Train one bodypart with multiple exercises (3-4) before you train another. The “flushing” is your body sending a maximum amount of blood to that area to best stimulate growth.
9. Holistic Training: Use numerous training techniques (low and high reps, faster and slower speeds, and alternate exercises) to stimulate maximum muscle fibers. Don’t always approach exercises with the same 6-10 repetition sets; try lightening the load and going for 20 reps in some training sessions to build endurance-related muscle fibers.
10. Isolation Training: A technique designed to work individual muscles without involving adjacent muscles or muscle groups. A pressdown for triceps (rather than a close-grip bench press) is an example of an isolation movement.
11. Iso-Tension: Between sets (or even between workouts), flex and hold various muscles for 6-10 seconds, keeping them fully contracted before releasing. Competitive bodybuilders use this to enhance their posing ability through increased muscle control.
12. Muscle Priority: Hit your weakest bodypart first in a workout or body split, when you can train it with more intensity because your energy level is higher. Are your abs lagging? Do abs first in your workout instead of tacking them on as an afterthought.
13. Peak Contraction: Squeeze your contracted muscle iso-metrically at the completion of a rep to intensify effort. Hold the weight in the fully contracted position for a moment – up to two seconds – at the top of an exercise.
14. Progressive Overload: To continue making gains, your muscles need to work harder in a progressive manner from one workout to the next. During most of your training cycle, try to either increase your weights each session, do more reps or sets, or decrease your rest period between sets.
15. Pyramid Training: Incorporate a range of lighter to heavier weights in each exercise. Start light with higher reps (12-15) to warm up the muscle, then gradually increase the weight in each successive set while lowering your reps (6-8). You could also reverse the procedure – moving from high weight and low reps to low weight and high reps.

To Shock Muscles into New Growth

16. Burns: Continue a set past the point where you can lift a weight through a full or even partial range of motion with a series of rapid partial reps, for as long as your muscle can move the weight, even if only a few inches.
17. Cheating: Use momentum (a slight swing of the weight) to overcome a sticking point as you fatigue near the end of a set. Doing heavy barbell curls, for example you might be able to do only eight strict reps to failure. A subtle swing of the weight or a slightly faster rep speed may help you get 1-2 additional reps. For advanced bodybuilders only.
18. Compound Sets: Perform sets of two exercises for the same muscle back-to-back with no rest in between. For instance, when you train shoulders, do a set of dumbbell presses followed immediately by lateral raises.
19. Descending Sets: After completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar or select lighter dumbbells. Continue to do reps until you fail, then again strip more weight off to complete even more reps.
20. Forced Reps: Have a training partner assist you with reps at the end of a set to help you train past the point of momentary muscular failure. Your training partner lifts the bar with just enough force to overcome the sticking point.
21. Giant Sets: Four or more back-to-back exercise for one muscle group. 22. Partial Reps: Do reps involving only a partial range – at the top, in the middle or at the bottom – of a movement. This allows you to use a heavier weight than you cold normally lift in the full-range version of the exercise.
23. Pre-Exhaustion: Pre-exhaust a muscle with a single-joint exercise before moving to a multi-joint movement. In leg training, you can start with leg extensions (which target the quads) before a set of squats (which also works the glutes and hamstrings).
24. Rest-Pause: Take brief rest periods during a set of a given exercise to squeeze more reps out of a set. Use a weight you can lift for 2-3 reps, rest as long as 35-40 seconds, then try for another 2-3 reps. Take another brief rest and go again for as many reps as you can handle, and repeat one more time.
25. Reverse Gravity: Resist the downward motion of a very heavy weight. For example, on the best press, use a weight that’s 15%-25% heavier than you can typically handle and fight the negative as you slowly lower the bar to your chest. Have your partner assist with the positive portion. Also called negatives.
26. Staggered Sets: Alternate sets for smaller bodyparts (calves, forearms, abs or traps) during training of a major bodypart such as chest, shoulders, or back. This is a good method to target a slow-responding bodypart without increasing your time in the gym.
27. Supersets: Perform sets of two opposing muscle-group exercises back-to-back, with no rest in between. For example, superset biceps curls and triceps pressdowns, or leg extensions with leg curls.
28. Super-Speed: When doing heavy sets, especially of compound movements, consciously drive the weight up with an explosive effort rather than lifting it in a more controlled, deliberate pace.
29. Tri-Sets: Perform three consecutive exercises for one muscle group in nonstop sequence