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Weider´s training principles: The progressive overload principle

Training Plan
Joe Weider (November 29, 1919 – March 23, 2013) was a Canadian bodybuilder and entrepreneur who co-founded the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) alongside his brother Ben. He was also the creator of the Mr. Olympia, the Ms. Olympia and the Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests.
Joe Weider
Joe’s most indelible addition to the science and sport of bodybuilding is the Weider Principles: over 30 theories and techniques that forever changed the means by which someone could build a strong, muscular body.

The progressive overload principle

To increase any aspect of physical fitness (muscle mass, strength, stamina, etc.), your muscles need to be continually put under increased stress.
Today, I want to focus on muscle mass, to keep it simple for beginners. To achieve more muscle mass, the number of sets is key.
In the early years of bodybuilding, most experts believed that to increase muscle mass, we should only complete one set of each exercise per workout. If the whole body is to complete twelve exercises, this would mean twelve sets per workout.
Weider saw it differently. He was the first to recommend working out using several sets of one exercise (3-5 sets per exercise) to exhaust each muscle group and to stimulate maximum muscle growth.
Start with three sets of each exercise and continue increasing the number of sets until you make five. This strategy will also help you increase your muscle strength gradually without obsessing with the weight you lift. It´s no magic, it´s the progressive overload principle: once your muscles are used to perform three sets, you have to push them to do four sets and then five.
When you are able to do five series with the same weight with which it was hard to do three series the first week, it is time to add more weight.
I know that most bodybuilders speak wonders and encourage you to lift heavy, and so do I, but in due time. The word “heavy” means “difficult to lift or move” and this is a different weight to each person. Whatever is difficult to lift today for you, it will be easier to lift next month.
First, progress from 3 to 5 sets. Then progress to heavier weights.
The progressive overload principle is the core of all physical training and forms a solid basis for successful training.
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8 thoughts on “Weider´s training principles: The progressive overload principle

  1. I actually remember him and all the Weider products by him back in the day. My ex won Mr. California once and was a big advocate of body building.

    1. Wow! You always surprise me, Jolie 😃 I’d bet you had to do a lot of sacrifices to help and support your ex back in the day. There should be prizes for bodybuilder’s family and friends, not just for the competitors, right? 😉
      Big hugs!

      1. Actually, he did that some time after we split up. He had been an alcoholic, teaching our girls how to pour a mug of beer without a head and up until then refused to acknowledge he had a problem. After the split, he realized he had to do something, so he redirected his focus. It’s too bad it took our split and that of his next marriage for him do do something. Now, he rides his bike all over the world as well. I’m happy he finally took care of himself.

      2. So sad he needed a divorce to realize he had to change. He lost a great woman!
        Now, if you´re happy, it´s all that matters ;)
        Big hugs!

  2. I’m happy. Got a great guy now.

  3. […] when you think of progressive overload, you think of increasing how much weight you lift. But another way to increase overload is simply […]

  4. […] gradually increases volume, intensity, and work by mesocycles in an annual training plan. Progressive overload is a major key to the success of this training style. This style is characterized by longer […]

  5. […] one of the seven main principles of exercise, states that overload of exercise should occur in gradual progression rather than in major bursts. Keeping track of […]

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