Here's what you need to know...
- German Volume Training has a reputation for adding rapid size to new lifters. It's a series of ten sets of predetermined reps for each big lift.
- GVT can be adapted for the advanced lifter. Decrease reps to accommodate heavier weight and only do the same exercise every ten days.
- The goal of Advanced German Volume Training is to do ten sets of five reps with the same weight. The first workout is 75% of your 1RM.
- Your rest between sets will be minimal, so if the weight feels light at first, it won't for long because of the accumulative fatigue.
GVT: The Basics
Any lifter with an unyielding desire to put on size has heard of German Volume Training. Reports of new lifters gaining 15 pounds of muscle with GVT are common. In short, it works.
While it's a great program for the novice and intermediate, those with more than five solid years of lifting often want more from it.
First let's recap the most important points regarding German Volume Training:
- You do 10 sets of a single "most bang for your buck" exercise.
- You strive to do a predetermined number of reps on each set, like 10 sets of 10 reps.
- You alternate with the antagonist "most bang for your buck" exercise.
- You only increase the weight once all 10 sets are completed with the predetermined starting weight. The load used is submaximal. You do not try to reach failure on all sets; only the last three should be hard.
You get the training effect from the law of repeated efforts. A typical workout might look like this:
A. Bench press (the goal is to do 10 sets of 10 with 200 pounds):
Set 1: 10 reps
Set 2: 10 reps
Set 3: 10 reps
Set 4: 10 reps
Set 5: 9 reps
Set 6: 7 reps
Set 7: 7 reps
Set 8: 8 reps
Set 9: 7 reps
Set 10: 6 reps
B. Barbell Row (the goal is to do 10 sets of 10 with 200 pounds):
Set 1: 10 reps
Set 2: 10 reps
Set 3: 10 reps
Set 4: 9 reps
Set 5: 8 reps
Set 6: 7 reps
Set 7: 7 reps
Set 8: 7 reps
Set 9: 6 reps
Set 10: 6 reps
Once you were able to do complete 10 sets of 10 reps, you would increase the weight by 2.5 to 5%.
Pretend Improvements to GVT
A lot of people claim to have improved the German Volume Training, but failed miserably because they didn't understand the physiology behind it.
Let's say that German Volume Training is the best apple pie recipe. One author might say you should use bananas instead of apples for an apple pie. And he would argue that the crust ruins it, and that it should instead be made into a loaf, or a mousse, or whatever.
After all these tweaks it's not apple pie anymore.
Performing 5 sets of 2 exercises done to failure does not equal the training effect of ten sets of a single exercise using a load that causes fatigue on the later sets. The volume-intensity equations are completely different for the two different training systems.
Guidelines for the Advanced Lifter
Training Frequency: Because this is such a demanding program, it will take you longer to recover. I recommend working each body part every five days and only doing the same exercise every ten days.
The routine outlined in the end will make things clearer. The exercises done in the two different workouts for the same body part should be similar, yet different enough to tap into a different motor unit pool.
Reps: For the advanced lifter, doing more than 5 reps is a waste of time, as the average intensity will be too low.
The reps should vary for each one of the six workouts. Reps are the loading parameter to which one adapts the quickest.
Related: 22 Proven Rep Schemes
For the advanced lifter, increase in load 6-9% with each successive rep reduction. In other words, each week you'll do fewer reps per set but increase the weight.
The goal of the Advanced German Volume Training method is to complete 10 sets of 5 reps with the same weight for each exercise.
You want to begin with a weight you could lift for 10 reps to failure (10RM), if you had to push it. For most people, on most exercises, that would represent 75% of their 1RM load. If you can bench press 300 pounds for 1 rep, you would use 225 pounds for this exercise.
So your workout may look like this:
Set 1: 225 x 5
Set 2: 225 x 5
Set 3: 225 x 5
Set 4: 225 x 5
Set 5: 225 x 5
Set 6: 225 x 5
Set 7: 225 x 4
Set 8: 225 x 4
Set 9: 225 x 3
Set 10: 225 x 3
Keep a detailed journal of the sets, reps, load, and rest intervals performed, and only count the reps completed in strict form.
Increase the weight by 6-7% and strive to do 10 sets of 4 reps with that weight. So workout two would look like this:
Set 1: 235 x 4
Set 2: 235 x 4
Set 3: 235 x 4
Set 4: 235 x 4
Set 5: 235 x 4
Set 6: 235 x 4
Set 7: 235 x 4
Set 8: 235 x 4
Set 9: 235 x 4
Set 10: 235 x 4
Note: It's possible on the second workout to be able to complete all sets of 4, as your work capacity will have improved from the first GVT workout.
Increase weight of workout one by 8-9% and aim to do 10 sets of 3 reps with that weight. Workout three might look like this:
Set 1: 255 x 3
Set 2: 255 x 3
Set 3: 255 x 3
Set 4: 255 x 3
Set 5: 255 x 3
Set 6: 255 x 3
Set 7: 255 x 3
Set 8: 255 x 3
Set 9: 255 x 3
Set 10: 255 x 3
Note: During sets 6-8, you will think your spleen wants to come out of your right eye, but stick with it as sets 9 and 10 will be the easiest.
Use the weights you used in workout two and go for 10 sets of 5, which you should do easily.
Use the weights in workout three and go for 10 sets of 4, which again you should do easily.
By now you should be able to do 10 sets of 3 at 275 pounds with no problem.
When lifters start with this method, they often question its value during the first several sets simply because the weight doesn't feel heavy.
But since there's minimal rest between sets you experience accumulative fatigue. Remember there's only about 90 seconds rest when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a superset.
Use a stopwatch to keep the rest intervals constant. This will hold you accountable when you're tempted to lengthen the rest time as fatigue sets in.
For long range movements such as squats, dips, and chins, use a 40X0 tempo. This means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift explosively for the concentric portion.
For movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 30X0 tempo.
Advanced lifters should only use explosive concentric tempos because of their enhanced neurological efficiency.
Number of Exercises
Do one, and only one, exercise per body part. Pick exercises that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Tricep kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely out – squats and bench presses are definitely in.
For assistance work on individual body parts like triceps and biceps, you can do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Once you're able to do 10 sets of x reps with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by the percentage outlined in the article and repeat the process.
Don't use 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 intensity techniques.
In fact, after doing a quad and ham session with this method, it takes the average bodybuilder about five days to stop limping.
Day 1: Chest and Back
|A1||Incline Barbell Press||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Lean-Away Chin-up||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Parallel Bar Dip||3||6-8||40X0||90 sec.|
|B2||One-Arm Arc Dumbbell Row||3||6-8||40X0||90 sec.|
Day 2: Legs
|A1||Back Squat||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Lying Leg Curl feet pointing away||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Dumbbell Lunge||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
|B2||Romanian Deadlift||3||6-8||40X0||90 sec.|
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Arms
|A1||Incline Off-Set Dumbbell Curl||10||5||30X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Close-Grip Bench Press||10||5||30X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Thick-Bar Reverse Curl||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
|B2||Seated EZ-Bar French press||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Chest and Back
|A1||30-Degree Incline Barbell Press||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Close Parallel Grip Chin-Up||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Flat Dumbbell Press||3||6-8||40X0||90 sec.|
|B2||One-Arm Elbowing Rows the elbow comes out to the side, as if you were elbowing someone in the chops||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
Day 7: Legs
|A1||Front Squat heel-elevated||10||5||40X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Lying Leg Curl feet inward||10||5||30X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Farmer's Walk||3||50 yd.||90 sec.|
|B2||Glute-Ham Raise||3||6-8||40X0||90 sec.|
Day 8: Off
Day 9: Arms
|A1||Seated Zottmann Curl||10||5||30X0||100 sec.|
|A2||Low Decline Close-Grip Bench Press||10||5||30X0||100 sec.|
|B1||Scott Bench Close-Grip Reverse Curl||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
|B2||Low Pulley French press||3||6-8||30X0||90 sec.|
Day 10: Off
Day 11: Do the day one routine using workout two pattern.
Continue for 55 days, making the rep adjustments as outlined.
There is no direct work for the popliteus or tibialis anterior, nor is there use of a Swiss Ball, BOSU Ball, or TRX Straps – just straight, hard, rewarding work.
For those of you who have access to bands or bungie cords, please feel free to add them to the squatting and pressing exercises for increased overload. They're not a must, so don't think you're missing out if don't have access to them.
It'll take you 60 days to go through the cycle, but you should gain 8-10 pounds of lean tissue by the end of those two months. This is not a program for the faint of heart, but it's a very rewarding program if you have the guts to complete it.