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Under The Microscope: German Volume Training (GVT)

Under The Microscope: German Volume Training (GVT)

Looking for an effective way to pack on muscle quickly? Look no further. German Volume Training (or GVT for short) is a workout plan that has been used by bodybuilders and powerlifters alike to achieve those massive gains and to break physical plateaus. Often called the Ten Sets Method, GVT consists of one compound movement and one or two isolation movements for the intended muscle group. You perform 10 sets of 10 reps for the compound movement and then drop the volume back a little for the two isolation exercises. For example if you were training Chest & Biceps the workout should looking something like this: Barbell Bench Press 10×10/ Dumbbell Bicep Curls 10×10/ Incline Chest Flys 3×10/ Barbell Bicep Curls 3×10.

Through limited rest and a soaring amount of weight volume that you will need to lift, there is no doubt that you will experience the extraordinary amount of tension and blood flow needed to stimulate muscle growth. As much as it is brutal and torturous, it is equally as efficient at building the muscle you are looking for. The rest-pause technique can also be used whilst doing GVT as the last few sets will be physically demanding.

This training system, as you can probably guess, originates from Germany. Created in the 1970’s by German weightlifting national coach Rolf Feser, GVT was used during the off-season so bodybuilders could gain lean body mass. The system was so efficient that weightlifters often moved up an entire weight class within just 12 short weeks.

GVT is also called the Ten Sets Method for good reason; ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise is needed in order to be done successfully. For the majority of people, a weight that can be lifted 20 reps to failure, or 60% of their maximum potential, is a good starting point for those who are just beginning GVT. So, for example, if you can bench press 350 pounds for one rep, you would use 210 pounds for the exercise.


For those who are new to the GVT method, a typically recommended 5-day body-part split (with exercises) would look something like this: (Ratios consist of Sets/Reps/Seconds of Rest)

Day 1: Chest & Back – Barbell Bench Press 10/10/90; Bent Over Barbell Rows 10/10/90; Cable Crossover 3/10/60; Close-Grip Front Lat Pulldown 3/10/60

Day 2: Legs & Abs – Barbell Squats 10/10/90; Lying Leg Curls 10/10/90; Seated Calf Raise 3/10/60; Hanging Leg Raises 3/10/60

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Arms & Shoulders – Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press 10/6/90; Barbell Curl 10/6/90; Side Lateral Raise 3/6/60; Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise 3/6/60

Day 5: Off

This routine should last anywhere between six to eight weeks. Once it is over, you will want to lower the intensity a bit so you don’t cause your body too much stress. Your body-part split will then look something like this:

Day 1: Chest & Back – Barbell Incline Bench Press (Medium Grip) 10/6/90; Pullups 10/6/90; Dumbbell Flyes 3/6/90; Seated Cable Rows 3/6/60

Day 2: Legs & Abs – Leg Press 10/6/90; Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift 10/6/90; Standing Calf Raises 3/10/60; Crunches 3/10/60

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Arms & Shoulders – Lying Triceps Press 10/6/90; Incline Dumbbell Curl 10/6/90; Front Dumbbell Raise 3/10/60; Reverse Flyes 3/10/60

Day 5: Off

After three weeks of this routine, you can either continue doing another GVT cycle or move on to another program entirely. Your choice.

Obviously, just like any other program or method, you will want to keep track of your exact sets, reps, and rest intervals executed in a detailed notebook. This will help you discover how far along you have progressed throughout the duration of this method, and help you to determine where your area of work is most needed.

We can’t emphasize enough how hard this routine can be for the new beginner, so make sure that you are eating plenty of protein and healthy carbs while also drinking a gallon of water a day. A quality multivitamin should also help you through this process as well.

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