German volume training or GVT is a common way to pack on some serious size. It has been used by lifters for years to increase training volume and intensity.
Looking to learn more about German volume training, or perhaps find a training plan? This article is for you!
German volume training is primarily known in the bodybuilding world but has been used for strength sports as well. It has a very simple structure: 10 sets of a given lift, increasing the weight every week.
In strength coaching this method is generally referred to as the 10 set method. However, because of its roots in German speaking countries it became commonly referred to as German Volume Training in the bodybuilding community. In Germany, this method was used by off-season weightlifters to gain lean body mass. It was not uncommon for lifters to move up a weight class in a 12 week period.
Jacques Demers, Silver Medallist in the LA Olympic Games, gives credit to GVT for his amazing level of hypertrophy. German volume training was also used by Bev Francis in her early years to gain muscle.
GVT works by targeting a specific group of motor units, and putting them through a large amount of volume and repeated effort through a single movement. The body adapts to the stress caused by this through hypertrophy of the targeted muscle fibers.
GVT Program Notes
To get the best results with German Volume Training follow the program as outlined.
The goal of GVT is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight for each lift performed. Typically, you will want to start with a weight you could generally lift for a set of 20 reps. This is usually 60% of your one rep max.
The most common training split is as follows:
German Volume Training Body-Part Splits
- Day 1: Chest & Back
- Day 2: Legs & Abs
- Day 3: Rest
- Day 4: Arms & Shoulders
- Day 5: Rest
It is recommended that you use a journal or some other method of tracking so you can take note of the exact sets/reps and rest intervals performed, and only count the repetitions completed in strict form.
Terms to Know
Rest intervals: Don’t worry if the weight feels too light for the first several sets. The minimal rest between sets (about 60 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a superset), incurs cumulative fatigue. Because of the importance of the rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch to keep the rest intervals constant. This is important, as it becomes tempting to lengthen the rest time as you fatigue.
Tempo: For long-range movements such as squats, dips and chins, use a 4-0-2 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift for two seconds. For movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 3-0-2 tempo.
Number of exercises: Only one exercise per body part should be performed during the first 6 weeks. Therefore, choose movements that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Triceps kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely out; squats and bench presses are definitely in.
Training frequency: Because this is such an intense program, it’ll take you longer to recover. One training session every four to five days per body part is plenty.
Overload mechanism: Once you’re able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by 4-to-5%, and repeat the process. Refrain from using forced reps, negatives or burns. The volume of the work will take care of the hypertrophy. Expect to have some deep muscle soreness without having to resort to set prolonging techniques.
Supersets: The lifts in this program should be in supersets. Meaning you perform set 1 of the first lift, set 1 of the second lift, set 2 of the first lift, and so on.
German Volume Training Bodybuilding Program
Barbell Bench Press- 10 sets of 10 reps
Pullups/Weighted Pullups- 10 sets of 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Flyes- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
One Arm Dumbbell Rows- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Barbell Squats- 10 sets of 10 reps
Lying Leg Curls- 10 sets of 10 reps
Leg Extensions- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Calf Raises- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Abs- 100 total reps of abdominal exercise of your choosing
Dips- 10 sets of 10 reps
Seated Hammer Curls- 10 sets of 10 reps
Rear Lateral Raises- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Seated Lateral Raises- 3 sets of 10-20 reps
For weeks 7-11 decrease the rep range on the main lifts from 10 to 6. Your sets will now look like: Barbell Bench Press- 10 sets of 6 reps. This gets you in a rep range that is less taxing on your energy levels so you can continue to increase weight.
Week 12 will be a deload week used to let your CNS recover. Decrease sets by half and use 80% of the weight you used in week 11. After completing week 12 you can start the program over with your new maxes if you so desire.
Recommended German Volume Training Supplements
Supplementation is highly individual based on your goals. However, there are a few supplements that will help you achieve greater results while doing GVT. The goal is to get in the nutrients that will help you gain the muscle mass you want that you may be missing in your diet.
As supplements can really start to add up in cost, this section will be limited to just three that will offer the most support. The goal should be to pack the most nutrition in the least supplements to compliment your diet.
Supplement One: Protein
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Supplement Two: Creatine
So what is Creatine? To start, Creatine is produced naturally by our own bodies and found in many of the food products we eat today. It increases protein synthesis which is essential for building lean muscle mass. The more efficient your body is at creating protein synthesis, the faster you can produce muscle tissue. Creatine improves your body’s ability to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is a raw source of energy for your body. This allows you to push your muscles to new limits. At the same time, Creatine pulls water from the body into the muscles giving them a fuller look and keeping them hydrated, leading towards improved performance in the gym.
Supplement Three: Vitamins, Prebiotics, and Probiotics
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Nutrition for GVT
The most important factor for gaining lean body mass and strength, hands down, is nutrition. If you are not getting the right nutrients then your body will not be able to pack on the lean body mass that you are after.
The amount of calories that you need is highly individual to your body. If you are unsure of how many calories you should be consuming you can check out the Calorie Calculator: Find Your Caloric Needs page.
Where these calories come from will be just as important as how many you consume. Try to consume around 1-1.25 grams of protein per pound of lean bodyweight. This will keep your body in an optimum range for tissue recovery. High protein alone isn’t going to be recover though. It is also important to get in carbs, healthy fats, and greens to keep your body running at peak performance.
For ideal mass gaining results keep meals in the following macronutrient ratios: 50% of your calories from carbs, 30% of your calories from protein, and 20% of your calories from fats. For three of your meals be sure to include around 4 ounces of green vegetables and try to get your fats from sources like nuts/nut butters or healthy oils.
Make sure you aren’t consuming alcohol in excess, as well as staying away from too much take-out and other junk foods.
Overall, consume mainly foods closest to their natural state as you can, with the bulk of food choices coming form high calorie foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well and you are on your way to getting huge and healthy as well. If you’re looking for an easy way to track your food, try this app!
Recovery on German Volume Training is crucial. Many don’t realize that weight training isn’t only about what happens inside the gym, but is even more the result of how you take care of yourself outside the weight room.
How you eat, supplement, rest, and even think affect your overall gains. But many decide to skimp on these things, especially beginners or those returning from a lay-off. If strength and or mass is your game, then you need all these things need to be treated seriously.
Along with diet and, to some extent, supplementation, an equally important factor is sleep.
During sleep your body shuts off; it’s the period where the recovery process is at its fullest, which means an opportunity to maximize gains. Additionally, a good night’s sleep leads to higher energy levels and increased focus for a better muscle-mind connection.
Avoid excessive late nights and partying, and make it a commitment to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Try to maintain the same sleep patterns as well which will set up a healthy rhythm. Rest will also be achieved though naps, and regular “down-time”, taking time out and just listening to your body.
In whole, the components of sleep will enhance the intensity of your workouts, as well as increase your potential to grow.
So there you have it: a 12 week German Volume Training plan. Nothing too surprising, but applying it takes commitment and effort. If you ensure you have all grounds above covered, there is no telling the type of physique you have the potential to develop.
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