Introduction to the German Volume Training
The German Volume Training (GVT) has been the most successful article of my career.
No matter where I go around the World, people still comment on it
People often reported it was the most productive workout they had ever done. In one instance, for example, I was in Boston, and was about to pay the drop in fee at the local gym. The clerk recognized my name… this was before the Internet… and waived the fee after he told me that he couldn’t charge the guy who wrote the routine that brought him the most gains in his life.
GVT, also known as the 10 sets methods, dates back to mid-70’s and originates from Germany. Because of this, I decided to name my variant the German Volume Training. This method was, to the best of my knowledge, popularized by Rolf Feser, the German National Weightlifting Coach of that time, and was quite popular in weightlifting circles as a method to gain weight, often causing athletes to move up one full weight class in only 12 weeks.
Gains of 5 to 10 pounds, sometimes even more, are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters
It has been used by Canadian Olympic Weightlifing Coach Pierre Roy as the base for Los Angeles Olympic Silver Medalist Jacques Demers, who was known in weightlifting circles for his massive thighs. Demers gives credit to the German method for achieving such a spectacular level of hypertrophy.
Just to make a point clear, as it is a recurring question I get when talking about GVT: It won’t help an olympic weightlifter perform better in weightlifing. And, in the same vein, the GVT shouldn’t use olympic lifts in its exercise choice.
But it IS an excellent way of gaining lean mass for athletes. As such, German Volume Training was also popular in bodybuilding circles. Legendary trainer Vince Gironda had developed a similar protocol in the U.S., and Bev Francis used a method like this in her early days of bodybuilding to pack on muscle.
How to properly select the weight
- In phase 1, take a weight you can do 20 reps to failure with for the A-1/A-2 pairing
- Increase weight by 5% when 10 sets of 10 reps of the A-1/A-2 pairing can be completed
- In phase 2, take a weight you can do 12 reps to failure with for the A-1/A-2 pairing
- Increase weight by 5% when 10 sets of 6 reps of the A-1/A-2 pairing can be completed
- The best split for this program is 5 day split: 3 days on, 2 days off
- So the split would look like this: day 1 – Chest and Back; Day 2 – Legs and Abs; Day 3 – Rest; Day 4 – Arms and Shoulders; Day 5 – Rest; Day 6 – Start over from day 1
- It’s perfectly normal not to be able to complete the prescribed number of reps on sets 5-6, but to regain the capacity to do 8-9 reps on the last few sets of the GVT.
Phase 1 weeks 1-3 or 1-4
|A1||Flat DB Presses||10||10||4020||90|
|B2||Cable rows to neck||3||10-12||2020||75|
|A2||Lying Leg curls feet outward||10||8||40X0||90|
|B1||Low Cable Pull-ins||3||10||2020||75|
|B2||Seated Calf Raise||3||10-12||2020||75|
Day 3/5 OFF (Rest)
|A1||Close grip bench press||10||10||40X0||90|
|A2||Incline DB Curls||10||10||40X0||90|
|B1||Seated Lateral Raises||3||10-12||2011||75|
Day 5/5 OFF (Rest)
Phase 2 weeks 4-6 or 5-8
After six 5-day cycles of the phase 1 program, I recommend a three-week program using 6-to-8 reps per sets for 4-to-6 sets total per body part. You can still use the same 5-day cycle, or you can use another split that suits your recovery pattern and life routine
After this 3-week block, you go back for phase 2 of the German Volume Training method, with the following modifications: you now do ten sets of six reps per exercise instead of 10 sets of 10 reps. In this phase, use a load you’d normally be able to do 12 repetitions with. The goal in this phase is to do ten sets of six with that load.
|A1||Incline Barbell Press||10||6||5010||120|
|A2||Wide grip pull-ups||10||6||5010||120|
|B2||Incline Sit ups||3||8-10||2020||75|
|A2||Lying Leg Curls feet inward||10||6||30X0||120|
|B2||Standing Calf Raise||3||8-10||22X0||75|
Day 3/5 OFF (Rest)
|B1||Bent Over Lateral Raise||3||8-10||2-0-1-2||75|
Day 5/5 OFF (Rest)
To sum up, you should do the phase 1 program for six splits (six 5-day cycles, so 30 days), then do three weeks of a lower volume program that uses 6 to 8 reps, which will let your body recover, and then proceed to phase 2.
The simplicity of this program is what makes it efficient and elegant. And that’s what the Germans do best. Just ask any Mercedes Benz or BMW owner.
Coach Charles R. Poliquin