What is German Volume Training? Should You Try This Protocol?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

German Volume Training (GVT) is a training program that’s been used by bodybuilders and athletes for decades. It’s a brutal method of training that can help you build muscle, burn fat, and get stronger.

If the name itself doesn’t really ring a bell, you may have heard it also referred to as the “10 sets method.” The training program involves a lot of volume, meaning a high total number of sets and reps with short rest periods between each set. German Volume Training puts a ton of stress on your muscles due to the high intensity, which has been shown to help spark new lean muscle growth.

The idea behind this workout routine is to perform 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight. There are also days of the workout where 10 sets are to be completed per exercise, but the number of reps can drop down to 6.

This type of volume has been shown to increase strength, muscle mass, and improve aerobic capacity. German Volume Training is based on the principle of progressive overload, which means that you are always trying to progress with each workout by either adding more reps, sets, or weight to exercises. Your body can adapt quickly to the same workout program, which is why progressive overload helps prevent plateaus and a lack of results.

While the German Volume Training program is quite difficult, it is popular because of its potential to deliver outstanding results when it comes to building muscle mass and strength. It has been considered a tried and true training method for a very long time.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak to your healthcare professional before starting any workout program to ensure you are healthy enough to do so.

The Benefits of German Volume Training

Let’s look at some of the benefits of German Volume Training:

1.     Perfect for bulking schedules

This training style is ideal for those interested in bulking up and adding a good amount of muscle mass. It suits bulking cycles and helps prevent overtraining by providing sufficient volume without causing injury or excessive fatigue.

2.     Increases hypertrophy

German Volume Training workouts cause an increase in muscle mass through a process called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the scientific term used to describe increased muscle size due to the growth of existing muscle cells or an increase in the number of cells. This occurs when you lift heavy weights for 8-12 reps. This type of training causes your body to produce more testosterone, leading to greater muscle growth and strength gains than other types of training.

3.     Promotes metabolism

When your bulk is over, and you want to strip away some of the body fat you may have added, German Volume Training will give you the tools to do so by also helping improve your metabolism. Unlike other training methods that promote growth hormone release, German Volume Training focuses on packing on muscle mass. This leads to an increase in mass that raises your metabolic rate, which means your body can burn fat at a much faster rate.

4.     Compound exercises

Compound exercises are more effective than isolation exercises at building muscle mass because they recruit more muscle fibers and burn more calories during each rep. More anabolic hormones are released when you involve more muscles and muscle fibers in a workout.

One example of a compound exercise is a back squat, which simultaneously works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core muscles. Some examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and barbell rows (the barbell row also indirectly works your biceps).

5.     Increases grit and determination

If you’re looking to get bigger arms or a more defined chest, you might be tempted to get on the treadmill in your basement and just keep pushing yourself. But if you want to build real muscle mass, you need to push yourself hard enough that it hurts a little bit (not to the point of actual pain that could lead to injury). In other words, you need to push yourself until you want to quit.

6.     Advanced volume activates unused muscle fiber

The increase in repetitions using German Volume Training fatigues your muscle fibers, which are then compensated for by other fibers. This means you’re training muscle tissue that is usually difficult to train.

German Volume Training: Example Program

As with most programs, German Volume Training should follow a 4 to 6 week routine before you change up your training protocol or decide to start a deload phase. If you get great results from German Volume Training, you can always come back to it hard and heavy after a deload or following another workout program you jump into.

All that being said, you will want to set aside three days each week to fit in your German Volume Training sessions. While you could do back-to-back workouts on something like a Monday and Tuesday, that’s not exactly preferred due to the intensity of the program and the potential extra recovery time that may be needed. Each workout, you will complete four exercises that will be split into two supersets. Each superset will consist of two exercises that will be done one after the other.

When planning the supersets, the first superset of each workout will utilize the main heavy lifts (compound movements). The second superset will include accessory or more isolated movements.

Below is what the first week would look like when following a beginner’s German Volume Training workout, assuming you exercise on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule. As a reminder, due to the intensity of the training protocol, leaving a full day of rest between workouts is advised.

Monday: Chest and Back

First superset:

  • Barbell bench press: 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell bent-over row: 10 sets of 10 reps

Second superset:

  • Standing cable crossover: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Wide grip lat pulldown: 3 sets of 10 reps

Wednesday: Legs and Abs

First superset:

  • Barbell squat: 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Lying leg curl: 10 sets of 10 reps

Second superset:

  • Standing calf raise: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Hanging leg raise: 3 sets of 10 reps

Friday: Shoulders and Arms

First superset:

  • Close-grip bench press: 10 sets of 6 reps
  • Barbell biceps curl: 10 sets of 6 reps

Second superset:

  • Dumbbell side lateral raise: 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Seated bent-over rear delt dumbbell lateral: 3 sets of 6 reps
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