German Volume Training

You should give the “German Volume Training” technique a try if you are at a plateau in your training or would just like to attempt something different. The technique is easy to follow – you do only one compound exercise per body part. Some good exercises include:

Day One
Chest Barbell or dumbbell bench press 10×10
Chin-ups 10×10
Dumbbell pullovers 3×10
Back Barbell rows or cable rows 3×10
Day Two
Abdominals Leg lifts 3×15
Reverse crunches 3×15
Side crunch 3×15
Double crunch 3×15
Crunch 3×15
Hyperextensions 3×15
Day Three
Legs Squats or leg press 10×10
Deadlifts 10×10
Seated calf raises 3×15
Standing calf raises 3×15
Day Four
Abdominals Same as Day Two
Day Five
Arms and Shoulders Parallel dip bars 10×10
Preacher curls 10×10
Arnold presses 3×10
Side bench raises 3×10

GVT is easy to comprehend, but hard to do. A word of warning – you will be sore. This is no-holds-barred training; pain will be intense. GVT is extremely effective, but not for the light-hearted. First, pick an exercise for three body parts. Perform 10 sets of 10 reps at 70 to 75 percent of your one-rep max for each exercise. Use a stopwatch and allow yourself only one minute’s rest between sets.

Strength coach Charles Poliquin maintains that supersets and tri-sets allow you to perform a large amount of work in a short period of time. German volume training, also known as the “ten sets method,” is a very effective way to put on muscle fast. The ten sets method was used in Germany in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass.

GVT involves, rather simply, doing ten sets of the same exercise, with the goal being to do ten reps per set. The traditional method to decide your initial weight is to select an amount of resistance that you can do 20 times, and for most people, this equates to a weight that’s approximately 60% of your 1RM (the maximum amount of weight you can lift one time on any given exercise).

Poliquin says that when he introduced German Volume Training in the now-defunct Muscle Media 2000, it was the most popular article they had ever published. Why? Because it works. Even though it was written ten years ago, Poliquin says he gets feedback on it to this day. Feedback like “that’s the only program that put 15 lbs of muscle on me in one month.”

The truly amazing thing about GVT is the results. It’s not the easiest routine, but if you’re looking to pack on some quality muscle, this is the routine for you. The workout requires that you select only two exercises for the muscle group you’ll be training. The objective is to complete ten sets of ten reps of each mass building exercise and three sets of 10-15 reps for the shaping and toning exercises.

German Volume Training is more than just a way to stimulate muscle core development. It has been revealed to be a great instrument for the prevention of musculoskeletal injury to young athletes. The comparatively low amount of weight and a moderate amount of repetitions used help increase tendon and ligament strengthening and stability in young budding athletes.

German Volume Training truly changed the way people tried to gain mass. Its characteristics are:

  • Low intensity
  • High volume
  • Lighter weights
  • You typically start with 60% or so of your 1 rep max
  • Strength endurance training accompanied by some hypertrophy
  • 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Uses a somewhat progressive overload – if you hit all 10×10, increase weight by 5%
  • Frequency is once weekly per muscle group because GVT is a drain on the central nervous system
  • Geared for Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy – occurs with an accumulation of intercellular fluid and non-contractile proteins, which do not influence muscle force production

However, the program has some weaknesses, such as:

  • Potential overuse injuries from such a high volume of the same exercises
  • Very high level of boredom
  • Not enough emphasis on some muscles and some muscle functions
  • Possible muscle imbalances
  • Possibility of muscle tears
  • Vicious soreness
  • German Volume Training neglects strength

Is GVT Hypertrophy Specific?

German Volume Training incorporates some principles that are known to be necessary for hypertrophy, so it will provide some level of change to your muscle. GVT focuses mainly on strength endurance or fatigue. Its clearly stated goal is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps without reducing the weight, so right from the beginning, we see that the goal of anyone using GVT is not hypertrophy, but endurance strength in the 10-rep range.


We went to the bodybuilding forums for opinions on GVT. One user said he had been using the method for 10 weeks on his chest days, and he found that it worked well for him – he gained about an inch in those ten weeks. However, he has never been as sore as the three days after a workout – “GVT will hurt for a while…trust me on this one.” He advised other members to read up more on it and work out what would be best for them.

Another user said he was in week three of the program, and he was very pleased with the results so far. Since his aim is bodybuilding, he was happy that GVT offers significant gains in muscle mass, though the gains in muscle strength are only minimal.

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