German Volume Training For Massive Muscle Gains

bodybuilder 5 flickrIf you want to gain as much muscle mass as possible as quickly as possible you might want to give German Volume Training a try.

It’s very demanding and it’s not for beginners, but if you’ve been training a while and made some decent gains, but perhaps your progress has slowed down and you need a change, this could be what you’ve been looking for to take your results to the next level.

German Volume Training has been used with great success since at least the early 70’s. Bev Francis used it in her early days of bodybuilding to make her the most massively muscled female bodybuilder of her time. And Jacques Demers, a team Canada lifter, accredited his amazing leg size to German Volume Training.

So what is German Volume Training, and what’s the best way to use it? In this article I’ll answer those questions.

What Is German Volume Training?

German Volume Training (or GVT) is also known as the ten sets method. It involves doing an exercise for 10 sets, usually of 10 reps. So, as its name suggests, it’s a very high volume workout routine. But that is what creates the extreme hypertrophic response that this type of training is known for.

Your aim is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight, so you can’t go too heavy. Start off with a weight that you could do 20 reps with if you pushed to the limit. This will usually be about 60% of your one rep max. But if you are in any doubt it’s better to underestimate the weight rather than overestimate.

Your first few sets will feel quite easy, but they will get progressively more difficult as the fatigue sets in. And in fact when you first try it you may not be able to do the full 10 reps on all 10 sets. But just do as many as you can on the last few sets (but without going to failure).

Your rest periods between sets should be kept at 90 seconds for the duration of the exercise. This is important, so use a stop watch to time yourself; otherwise there is a temptation to lengthen the rest periods as you become more fatigued. When you can do 10 reps on all 10 sets, increase the weight by 3 – 5% for your next workout.

When using German Volume Training you should only do one exercise per body part in this manner. And no more than two exercises per workout. But you can do two additional supplementary exercises after these if you wish. These would be done for a more conventional set and rep regimen, e.g. 3 sets of 10.

If you are doing two exercises using this method it’s best to do them for opposing muscle groups, e.g. chest and back or quads and hams. But you can simply do any pushing movement together with any pulling movement for the upper body. And when performing the exercises you can either do all 10 sets of one exercise followed by all 10 sets of the other, or you can alternate the two exercises. Either way works fine, so do whichever you prefer.

Because GVT is so demanding it can take a while to recover from. So for this reason one training session every 5 to 7 days per body part is sufficient. A good plan therefore is to split your body into three and either do each workout once per week or use a five day rotation (i.e. 2 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off).

Based on the above a typical German Volume Training routine might look something like this…

German Volume Training Workout Regimen

Workout 1 – Chest & Back

Bench Press 10 X 10
Bent-Over Row 10 X 10
Incline Dumbbell Flyes 3 X 10 – 12
Close Grip Pulldown 3 X 10 – 12

Workout 2 – Legs & Abs

Squats 10 X 10
Lying Leg Curls 10 X 10
Hanging Leg Raise 3 X 10 – 12
Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Workout 3 – Arms & Shoulders

Parallel Bar Dips 10 X 10
Barbell Curl 10 X 10
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 X 10 – 12
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 X 10 – 12

You can alternate the bench press and the bent-over row in workout 1, the squats and the leg curls in workout 2 and the parallel bar dips and barbell curls in workout 3 if you wish.

Do this for 6 weeks (or 6 5-day cycles), and then move on to a lower volume transition phase for 3 weeks/cycles. During this phase you can do the same exercises, but do each for just 3 sets of 8 reps, using the same weight as you used in your last GVT workout.

German Volume Training Phase 2

After the transition phase you can do another phase of GVT if you wish. But this time do 10 sets of 6 reps using a weight that you could do 12 reps with if you pushed to the limit. You can use the same exercises as before if you wish, or you can change them to similar ones, as in the example below…

Workout 1 – Chest & Back

Incline Bench Press 10 X 6
Close Grip Pulldowns 10 X 6
Dumbbell Flyes 3 X 10 – 12
Pulley Rows 3 X 10 – 12

Workout 2 – Legs & Abs

Trap Bar Deadlift 10 X 6
Seated Leg Curls 10 X 6
Leg Pull-Ins 3 X 10 – 12
Calf Raise 4 X 10 – 12

Workout 3 – Arms & Shoulders

Close Grip Bench Press 10 X 6
EZ Curl 10 X 6
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 X 10 – 12
Face Pulls 3 X 10 – 12

Do this for another 6 weeks/cycles. And after this it might be a good idea to take a week off before returning to a different method of training for a while – perhaps a more strength focused regimen. You can then return to GVT at a later date if you wish.

Recovery Considerations

GVT takes a lot out of you; so you’ll need to ensure you make recovery a priority. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep, and don’t be too active in other areas if you can help it.

You’ll also need to eat a lot. This is crucial as you can’t grow on effort alone. So increase your calorie intake, and make sure you get plenty of protein (1 – 1.5g per pound of bodyweight), as well as lots of complex carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes etc.), some good healthy fats and a decent amount of fruit and veg.

For more information on how to eat to build muscle see this article.

So that’s German Volume Training – possibly the most effective mass building training system in the world. Many people have gained 10 pounds of muscle during that initial 6 week phase; and some have gained much more than that. So if you are ready for it (it won’t work well if you are not very strong and can only use light weights) give it a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Photo credit: equilibriumnutricao, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

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