What is German Volume Training?
Charles Poliquin, a Canadian strength coach, adopted a training method designed in the 1970s by a German weightlifting team coach. This was a new training method in order to bulk his athletes up. This is known as German Volume Training or GVT. Rolf Feser was the coach who invented this style of training.
If you’re reading the name and thinking, ‘ouch’, that sounds about right as it is likely one of the most demanding training methods out there however, if you have the drive to try it, the results are worth the grind.
GVT is a method of training with a high set and rep workload. Essentially, the first part of your workout will include two exercises targeting opposite muscle groups and working for 10 sets of 10 repetitions. Your rest periods, however, will be rather short at around 60 seconds.
The law of repeated effort
When performing something over, and over, and over again, your body will respond in a massively effective way and this is what German Volume Training does. Repeating the exercise 100 times through one single workout will shock the body and ensure hypertrophy.
German Volume Training Plan
When working out, our bodies and minds fatigue at the best of times., When you are participating in a programme as gruelling as German Volume Training, it is vital that you keep to the time periods set, as well as noting down each set and weight once completed. This is something that will be of huge help to you come set 7 or 8 and you can’t think of anything else other than lifting the weight in your next set.
It is also important not to be working to complete failure at every set. Blowing your muscles out at every set will only mean failure to complete your workout. Remembering that this workout is not about strength increments, it's a high volume to achieve hypertrophy. I would advise you to find a weight you can realistically do 12-15 reps with for 3 sets to do 10 sets of 10 reps. If you find this too easy, in the following session you should look to increase the weight slightly.
To add to the torture, you’ll need to perform the exercises with a specific tempo. Lifts that have a big range of motion (squats, deadlifts) should be completed with a 4-0-2-0 tempo (4 seconds downward for the eccentric portion, 0-second pause at the bottom, 2 seconds up for the concentric portion, 0 seconds at the top); shorter-range moves (leg curls, cable rows) can be done with at 3-0-2-0.
Completing a plan over 4 weeks will certainly provide results. Below is an example plan.
What are the benefits of German Volume Training?
German Volume Training is designed to spike muscle growth and strength. This method has been used, and is useful, to break through plataeu’s.
The main reason for GVT is the ability to pack on muscle on muscle. The German weightlifting team used it in the off season solely to load on muscle mass.
The program is designed to increase hypertrophy however, naturally when building muscle and progressively overloading your training, your strength will increase.
Take Home Message
It has been evidenced in a 2017 study that 5x10 methods are just as effective as GVT so, if you are worried about consuming too much time, it may be worth considering the more conventional approach.
If you are considering GVT, it is hard graft and would ensure you are prepared physically to complete the method and do so over a short period of 4-6 weeks.