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German Volume Training

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WORKOUT OVERVIEW
Experience:Advanced, Intermediate
Days per week:Five
Equipment:Barbell, Bench Press, Dumbbells, Squat Rack
Great for:Bodybuilder, Everyone, Powerlifter, Weightlifter
Focus:Full Body

Introduction to German Volume Training

German volume training applies very high volume to specific muscle groups. It is known to be brutally hard, yet effective at packing on lean muscle fast. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity or small numbers, this will bring you pain. It has been effective for many weightlifters and bodybuilders.

Is German Volume Training for you?

If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter looking to put on massive muscle gains, then German Volume Training (GVT) is for you. Weightlifters in Germany used this method during off season to gain lean body mass. This method was so effective some lifters moved up a whole weight class within 12 weeks. Although GVT may not help much with strength gains, it can help with improving and perfecting form.

To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement. Gains of ten pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters. -Charles Poliquin

This was Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers go to method of training. During his weightlifting career he was known for his massive thighs, which he attributes to GVT.

If you are a beginner, it is recommended you ignore this routine and head over to the beginners routines. There, you will find programs to build both size and strength gains more quickly.

German Volume Training Explained

German Volume Training is as simple as performing 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight on your exercises. Sounds simple, but this program is difficult. By repeatedly exposing muscle units to high volume and stress, the body begins to adapt by hypertrophying the targeted muscle fibers.

Finishing 10 sets of 10 reps is the goal. To find your starting numbers you will want to find a weight you could perform 20 reps to failure (if possible) with. This is roughly 60% of your 1RM (1 rep max).

In the beginning the weight may feel light, but the minimal rest periods will fatigue you. The rest intervals are extremely important, and should be tracked using a stopwatch. Rest intervals range between 60 and 90 seconds (60 seconds between accessory work and 90 seconds between the main lifts). Some coaches recommend a 4-0-2 tempo for long range movements; Squats, Bench Press, Dips, and a 3-0-2 tempo for short range movements; Curls.

You should be performing 1, and only 1, exercise per body part so choose an exercise that recruits a lot of muscle mass. Because it will take your body longer to recover, working one body part about every 4 to 5 days is sufficient. Accessory work may be added for individual body parts for 3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Each cycle is 5 days, after the 5th day you start again at day 1. Once you have completed 10 sets of 10 reps with proper rest intervals, consider increasing the weight by 4 to 5 percent and continue. After you have completed 6 cycles (6 workout per body part) you can move onto a more advanced 3 week program (Phase 2 below) created by Charles Poliquin.

 Recommended Beginner Split

  • Day 1: Chest and Back
  • Day 2: Legs and Abs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
  • Day 5: Off

After Day 5, start over again at Day 1.

Below you will see Charles Poliquin’s examples. We would recommend using lifts similar to those you want to improve on, to reinforce proper form and build technique. As an example, if you are a powerlifter, using the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift where suitable decreases the risk of losing strength and becoming unfamiliar with the lift.

Beginner/Intermediate Phase 1 Example

Day 1 - Chest and Back

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Decline Dumbbell Presses10x104-0-290 Seconds
Chin-Ups10x104-0-290 Seconds
Accessory Work - Incline Dumbbell Flyes3x10-123-0-260 Seconds
Accessory Work - One-Arm Dumbbell Row3x10-123-0-260 Seconds

Note: You will be resting 90 seconds between each main exercise and super set, and a 60 second rest interval between each accessory movement and super set. Performing 10 sets of 10 for accessory work would result in overtraining, according to Charles Poliquin. This is why he recommends 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Day 2 - Legs and Abs

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Squats10x104-0-290 Seconds
Lying Leg Curls10x104-0-290 Seconds
Accessory Work - Leg Pull-In3x15-202-0-260 Seconds
Accessory Work - Seated Calf Raise3x15-202-0-260 Seconds

Note: You will be resting 90 seconds between each main exercise and super set, and a 60 second rest interval between each accessory movement and super set.

DAY 3 – OFF

 

Day 4 - Arms and Shoulders

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Parallel Bar Dips10x104-0-290 Seconds
Incline Hammer Curls10x104-0-290 Seconds
Accessory Work - Dumbbell Lying Rear Lateral Raise3x10-122-0-X60 Seconds
Accessory Work - Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises3x10-122-0-X60 Seconds

Note: You will be resting 90 seconds between each main exercise and super set, and a 60 second rest interval between each accessory movement and super set. An “X” in the tempo means to move as fast as possible, keeping the weight under control.

Day 5 – OFF

After performing 6 full cycles of the beginner/intermediate routine, you can give Charles Poilquin’s 3 week phase 2 program a try. The rep ranges move from 10 sets of 10 to 10 sets of 6 reps. Rest intervals are still as important as in phase 1. During this cycle you will want to start with a weight that you can so for a solid 12 reps.

 

Beginner/Intermediate Phase 2 Example

Day 1 - Chest and Back

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Incline Dumbbell Press10x65-0-190 Seconds
Wide-Grip Rear Pull-Up10x65-0-190 Seconds
Accessory Work - Dumbbell Flyes3x63-0-160 Seconds
Accessory Work - Bent Over Barbell Row3x63-0-160 Seconds

Day 2 - Legs and Abs

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Barbell Deadlift10x65-0-190 Seconds
Seated Leg Curl10x65-0-190 Seconds
Accessory Work - Twisting Crunches3x12-153-0-360 Seconds
Accessory Work - Standing Calf Raises3x12-153-0-360 Seconds

Day 3 – OFF

 

Day 4 - Arms and Shoulders

ExerciseSets x RepsTempoRest Intervals
Parallel Bar Dips10x65-0-190 Seconds
Incline Hammer Curls10x65-0-190 Seconds
Accessory Work - Dumbbell Lying Rear Lateral Raise3x10-122-0-X60 Seconds
Accessory Work - Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises3x10-122-0-X60 Seconds

Day 5 – OFF

 

Progression and Gain

It has been said that many lifters have gained 10 pounds or more of lean body mass within 6 weeks of this program. You may increase the weight for your work sets by 5% once you can perform the prescribed 10 sets of 10 reps with proper form and rest intervals.

History

German Volume Training originated in German speaking countries back in the mid-70’s. According to Charles Poliquin, it is unclear as to who popularized the method. Some say Rolf Feser, the National Coach of Weightlifting during that time, and others say Vince Gironda from the U.S.

Tips for German Volume Training

  • Eat and sleep like it is going out of style. Since this program is designed to increase muscle mass, food and rest must be priority.
  • You should keep a detailed training log of the exact sets, reps, and rest intervals you have completed. You should only count the repetitions completed in strict form.
  • Rest intervals are key! You must perform the rest intervals as prescribed.
  • Don’t sweat missed reps. Not completing all 10 reps out of 10 sets will not ruin the program.
  • Typically used for approximately 8 to 12 week training cycles.
  • Use taxing compound lifts!
  • Perform Phase 1 for a minimum of 6 cycles, once you have completed a full 6 cycles you can move on to phase 2.

Doug Miller’s Deadlifting on German Volume Training

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