Back in the 70’s shit got crazy here in the states. Cocaine was really starting to take off in the club scene, bands like Led Zeppelin were touring the world, melting people’s faces with sick guitar solos, and apparently shoving fish inside disgusting groupies baby holes. Oh, and John Travolta was king of the world.
At this same time In Germany, a weightlifting coach by the name of Rolf Feser had a serious dilemma on his hands. He needed his lifters to gain more muscle, in order to lift more weights. Rolf had tried a few different techniques, and couldn’t get his lifters to pack on any size, which seriously hurt their competitiveness on the world stage.
Until Rolf stumbled upon a solution so fucking perfect that it’s been replicated by everyone from Arnold himself the average bro.
German Volume Training.
German Volume Training, or 10 sets of 10 reps, is one of the most popular training methods in the world when it comes to packing on size. The program practically pummels you into submission, and forces growth just through sheer volume alone.
It’s even said that the program was used to pack weight onto lifters, sometimes adding as much as 5-10lbs of muscle mass in a single 12 week training block.
5-10lbs of muscle mass is a pretty ridiculous claim, but it’s pretty well understood that German Volume Training is an outstanding method when it comes to adding size. Performing 100 reps of challenging compound moves with serious weight on the bar can do wonders for size gains, that much is a given.
German Volume Training explained:
10 sets of 10 reps is self-explanatory. It’s simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. There are a few guiding principles to GVT that must be followed in order to get the best results.
- Choose the best “bang for your buck” exercises. Lunges are great for the legs, but when following a GVT protocol squats are superior to lunges thanks the additional volume that can be done. Leg press is another good option for leg development.
- The deadlift doesn’t generally work well with GVT. The deadlift is usually best done with pretty high intensity, but low overall volume. The exact opposite of GVT.
- For best results, choose antagonistic movements. One common misconception about GVT is that only 1 exercise is performed. In reality, it works best if you’re following a GVT protocol with 2 antagonistic exercises for maximum size gains. Think squats and leg curls, or bench press and chin ups.
- ALWAYS work with submaximal loads. You shouldn’t be struggling to get rep number 10 on set 1. There are 100 total reps to be done, so choose your weight wisely. Being able to complete the entire workout is far more important than failing on set 8.
When to use German Volume Training:
German Volume Training doesn’t work best when in the middle of a serious fat loss program. When you’re consuming fewer calories it’s pretty damn hard to get in that much volume and gain size. It’s practically impossible unless you’ve got some pharmacological support.
German Volume Training is best done during a dedicated hypertrophy, or growth phase. Think of dedicating 8-12 weeks to nothing but gaining as much size as possible.
Because GVT is so high volume, there isn’t much need to apply a ton of other assistance exercises to the body parts that get love through GVT. Think 2-4 more assistance exercises, with anywhere from 2-4 sets on each exercise.
Additionally, it’s wise to use the assistance exercises to focus more on tempo and isolation work. Think of GVT as the main component of the program, and the assistance exercise work makes up the final 15-20% of your work.
Ideally this comes either following, or preceding a dedicated strength phase. I won’t get too much into why you need to alternate training focus, just know this: a stronger muscle has the potential to get bigger, and a bigger muscle is almost always stronger. It’s double edged sword, and it’s important you give love to both sides.
How to royally screw up German Volume Training:
German Volume Training is meant for compound movements. When that much volume is spread across multiple muscles you can recover far quicker. This means lifts like squats, bench, rows, overhead presses, and chin ups are all great exercises.
This also means things like bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, or direct isolation work isn’t the best way to use German Volume Training.
Those muscles will obviously grow, but there’s really no need to spend an obscene amount of time training your biceps or other smaller muscle groups unless you have plans to be a competitive bodybuilder. If that’s your jam, then apply GVT to whatever you feel like bro. You do you.
In short: GVT works best with bang for your buck exercises, not isolation moves. Make smart use of your time, bang out 100 reps on the squat for the next few weeks, and enjoy the gains, bros.