As befitting its name, the Weider Eclectic Training Principle is sort of an oddball. Trainers wonder what a non-bodybuilding word like eclectic has to do with workouts. Even those who know the tenet’s basics may be perplexed, because, with muscle confusion and holistic training, it’s the third principle that deals with workout variety. What’s new here? There are crucial differences between the three, and to distinguish them we’ve tackled the “variety principles” one after another over three months. Here in Part 3, we explain what makes eclectic training a uniquely effective tool for adding variety to every workout.
Not only does eclectic training apply to entire workouts, but it also can be utilized with a single exercise. One of the easiest ways to do this is via a pyramid, which incorporates sets of increasingly fewer reps on the way to a low-rep apex set. By including a drop-set and pump-out after your pyramid’s apex, you can run through four of our five variables with a single exercise. We’ll use squats as an example. Set one is a warm-up. Sets six and seven are drop subsets performed immediately after set five with only as much rest time as it takes to strip the plates.
With this example we have included compound (multijoint exercise for sets of 8–12 reps), strength (fewer than eight reps per set), intensity (two drop subsets after the heaviest squat set), and pump (final drop subset of more than 12 reps— hopefully, way more). Precede or follow with an isolation exercise like leg extensions and you’ll see how a pyramid makes it easy to go completely eclectic.
There are two potential pitfalls with workout eclecticism
-Misreading your physique
Though everyone can incorporate a variety of variable into each workout, we recommend that only advanced bodybuilders regularly change those variables on the fly. It takes at least a year of experience to be able to properly read your body. The more experienced you are the better you can determine precisely what your muscles need from exercise to exercise. Jay Cutler, to name one very experienced bodybuilder, often doesn’t know what he’ll do until he warms up, then he chooses exercises as the workout progresses depending depending on his strength, musle pump energy, intensity, and any aches or pains. But until you reach Cutler’s level, you need to go the gym with a plan.
Including a variety of exercise types and rep schemes in each workout has the potential to hurt more than it helps. For example, if you do drop-sets of dumbbell flyes before a pyramid of bench presses, the former will sap your strength for the latter . Generally speaking, you want to do your strength for the latter. Generally speaking, you want to do your strength for the latter. Generally speaking, you want to do your strength and compound exercises first and your intensity and pump exercises last. Our sample shoulder routine will show you how to properly organize even an ornately complicated eclectic workout.
Two pluses of an eclectic workout
-Stress Muscles in Different Ways
Utilizing both compound and isolation exercises in every workout, as well as a variety of rep schemes, engages both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle cells and makes it more difficult for your muscles to adapt to the same stresses. This, in turn, forces your muscles to grow stronger and larger.
-Gain Ability to Change on the Fly
Eclectic training lets you change a workout while it’s occurring. If you feel especially strong, focus more on power exercises for low reps. If your energy is waning, switch to supersets to up the pace and make certain you get in a full workload before your tank hits E. If you’ve had a strong workout but are lacking a pump, finish with high-rep and low-rest sets of an isolation exercise. There are myriad ways to alter your workout while it’s happening to adjust your muscle response, strength, and energy levels, and to work with other factors, like your time limitations and the gym equipment available.