Joe Weider, ‘How it All Began’, Joe Weider Bodybuilding System (Weider Health & Fitness, 1988), 5-7.


As a Weider student you should be interested to know that the Weider System is the most popular and successful bodybuilding course in the world. Because of my 50 years of involvement in the sport, the Weider System is the basis of all modern bodybuilding and weight-training techniques. Literally everything in bodybuilding has sprung from the Weider System. My system has stood the test of time! The results speak for themselves.

It is not by accident that the Weider System enjoys such popularity. Champions I have helped train hold every important bodybuilding title. Among my famous stars are Arnold Schwarzenegger (seven times Mr. Olympia), Frank Zane (three times Mr. Olympia), Sergio Oliva (three times Mr. Olympia), Larry Scott (twice Mr. Olympia), Franco Columbu (twice Mr Olympia), Chris Dickerson (Mr Olympia), Rachel McLish (Ms. Olympia), Lou Ferrigno (Mr America, Mr. International and twice Mr. Universe), Corinna Everson (American Women’s Bodybuilding Champion and threetime Ms. Olympia) and Lee Haney (American Men’s Bodybuilding Champion, World Bodybuilding Champion and three-time Mr Olympia).

The full importance of their victories is better understood when one realizes that each began bodybuilding with no idea that he or she would some day be a worldwide star
Years ago such amazing physical transformations would have been impossible. In the early days only natural giants of physical power had a chance to excel. Weight training as a science was unknown, and the weights were huge unwieldly masses of iron, unlike our modern streamlined equipment.

There were no progressive methods of training, no way that poundages could be adjusted to the strength of an individual athlete and increased gradually, as is the case in modern-day bodybuilding. If you weren’t big and strong to start with back then, there was no way that you could practice progressive weight training methods, primarily because the so-called experts of the day looked upon weight training as “dangerous.”

As a result, bodybuilding remained a hit-and-miss affair for many years. Champions were weightlifters who had developed their bodies by performing basic strength exercises. Even the greatest bodybuilders of the time, however, failed to approach the measurements and strength levels now common among Weider students who have been training less than three years!

Into the late 1930s and early forties, it was still the weightlifters who held the limelight, and all experimentation in the Iron Game was directed toward improving the lifting technique and strength of these atheltes. Bodybuilders could only dream of better training methods, of specialization programs, of top-grade magazines devoted to their sport and of someone interested enough to show them the way.

Since every champion of that day had a different training philosophy, the entire sport was in chaos. Still, bodybuilding managed to survive. The urge for strength and physical perfection felt by every man and woman today was as strong then as it is now.

It was in such a confused era that I got my start in bodybuilding. I was born and grew up in Montreal. As a boy, I was weak and thin. By the time I turned 13, I had experienced the humiliation of physical inferiority. I knew what it was to be ashamed of having a weak body, knew the frustration of being pushed around. I dreamed of having a strong, healthy, well-developed body.

I was determined to better myself. So I decided to dedicate my entire life to bodybuilding, to the improvement of my own body and the bodies of others.
Looking back now, I feel that my weakness as a boy played a major part in the evolution of the Weider System. For having felt the deep stab of inferiority, rejection and disappointment, I know from actual experience just how much great strength, a well-muscled body and excellent physical fitness means. Eventually, I obtained a set of weights, along with the courses of that era. Using these old-fashioned methods, I made some progress. These gains were the first of my bodybuilding career, and I was quite pleased with them. Weight training is better than any other form of exercise for improving the strength, health and appearance of the human body.

I recognized the logic behind progressive weight training. I could also see that someone had to take the lead. Moreover I realized that much research into resistance-training methods was needed and that, with hard work and study, bodybuilding with weights could provide the answer to the physical problems of millions of men and women.

I worked long and hard. I used my own body for experiments and learned through trial and error. I spent hours each day writing to the champions and weight-training authorities, analyzing their answers to my questions and comparing this information with my own reactions. Gradually a pattern of scientific bodybuilding emerged.

I was not surprised to learn that the exercises and methods of application used by the champions were vastly different from those in the courses sold with weight sets. Through trial and error, the champions also had learned better ways of training.

My biggest job was organizing all this material into a com- prehensive, easily understood training system. From this problem arose the idea of formulating the Weider System, as well as my desire to someday publish the best magazines on bodybuilding the world had ever seen.

I dedicated my life to these two goals.


Weider in a later physique contest

Unable to test all my theories personally, I enlisted the help of my friends, all champion bodybuilders. With our work as a base, I developed certain training methods-supersets, giant sets, rest-pause, etc.

The Mr. Canada contest for 1938 was coming up. I trained for it, using the methods my research indicated were best. I took second place in the contest, losing by only a half-point. A friend of mine, whom I had trained, won the top prize. As a result of our dual success, I was convinced that I had indeed discovered a better way of training, and the Weider System was born.

At that time I stepped out of competitive bodybuilding and weightlifting to dedicate my life to teaching others. Knowing that I had a vital message to bring to the world, I established YOUR PHYSIQUE magazine in 1940. This was soon followed by the periodicals, MUSCLE POWER, AMERICAN MANHOOD, MR. AMERICA and finally MUSCLE BUILDER & POWER-all dedicated to the sport of bodybuilding. Today MUSCLE BUILDER & POWER has evolved intoMUSCLE & FITNESS, the premier bodybuilding and weight-training magazine in the world, recognized by champions, experts and the public alike as the Bodybuilder’s Bible.

With my own magazines behind me, a following of millions of students and the cooperation of the world’s best-built men and women, along with a cadre of dedicated scientists, I was able to compile records on every phase of weight training and body- building. In fact, the research assumed such a tremendous volume that I was forced to set up the Weider Research Group, whose entire function is to develop new and better bodybuilding programs and training equipment.

I had specially qualified writers interview the champions and analyze their training methods. Of course, this took considerable time, money and energy, but I am convinced that it was all well spent.

In the final analysis, the Weider System incorporates every modern training principle. And it shows you how to make muscle gains in a fraction of the time it formerly took.
Every great bodybuilding champion has contributed to some extent to the Weider System. Hundreds of thousands of students have done their part, too. My staff has worked unceasingly to make this, the twelfth reprinting of the Weider System in 45 years, the last word in scientific bodybuilding advice.

Indeed, no other course in the history of bodybuilding has had so many work so hard to produce it. Champions like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, Lee Haney and Frank Zane have carried on in the tradition of the giants of the past, men like Larry Scott, Reg Park and Clancy Ross. Champions from the field of powerlifting have revealed to me the secrets of their superhuman strength. And the Weider Research Group has put all these ideas to the test, to make certain that they work on everyone.
I urge you not to deviate from these printed instructions in the slightest until you have thoroughly mastered the Weider System, and particularly the Weider Instinctive Training Principle. Each detail of your training as set down here has a purpose, and it’s for your exclusive benefit.

This in no way means you shouldn’t read MUSCLE & FITNESS, SHAPE, FLEX and MEN’S FITNESS. In fact, I urge you to study each issue of these magazines. As soon as anything new is learned or developed in the area of bodybuilding, my magazines will bring it to you. MUSCLE & FITNESS, SHAPE, FLEX and MEN’S FITNESS serve as monthly updating courses for the Weider System.

For the first six months of your Weider System training program, however, you should not follow any of the exercises or training routines that appear in these four magazines. You must stick to this course exactly as outlined for the prescribed length of time. After that, you will have gained the experience and the physique needed to benefit from the instruction that appears in my magazines.

Don’t forget that, as my student, if you need personal assistance at anytime, a letter will receive prompt attention. If you have a question, ask me!

I hope you have enjoyed this brief account of how the Weider System evolved. As you can see, since I was 13, bodybuilding has been my life. My goal is to bring you the latest information on bodybuilding so you can avoid my early mistakes and those of the champions, progressing more quickly and safely toward your goal of having a strong, well-muscled body. If you have the determination and desire, you could even become another Weider superstar. Don’t let us down!


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