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German Volume Training

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Volume Workouts Bodybuilding

The 10X10 Workout: German Volume Training for Bodybuilders

This advanced bodybuilding training technique goes by many different names including, ten sets of ten, super volume training, and most recently, German Volume Training (GVT). The last name is used to describe the technique's popularity in Germany in the mid 1970's. It's interesting to note, however, that the late "Iron Guru", Vince Gironda, was preaching about the merits of this system in his North Hollywood gym back in the 1940's and 1950's.

In recent years this workout technique has made a comeback thanks to the writings of trainer and coach extraordinaire, Charles Poliquin. Reports also suggest that Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers, silver medallist in the Los Angeles Olympic Games, used this technique as part of his Olympic training. The massive Bev Francis also reportedly used the same method to pack on muscle in her early days of bodybuilding.

Benefits of GVT

The primary reason why GVT works so well is because it stimulates a specific group of motor units with an extensive volume of resistance - specifically, 10 sets of 10 reps of a single exercise. Bodybuilders have also taken to it because of its simplicity. You only need one piece of equipment for each muscle group. No need to keep switching bars or machines during your training session. This is also beneficial in crowded bodybuilding gyms. A final benefit of GVT is that it will allow you to generate a tremendous amount of strength in basic exercises. And as many readers are aware, the stronger a muscle gets the bigger it gets.

The technique

As one of the names suggests the goal of German Volume Training is to complete ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise. You want to start with a weight that you can lift for about 20 reps to failure. For most bodybuilders, that would represent about 60% of their 1RM (1 rep maximum). For example, if you can bench press 200 lbs for 1 rep, you would use approximately 120 lbs for the GVT exercise. But don't let the first couple of sets mislead you into assuming that this is some sort of mediocre workout. Trust us - by the time you reach the last couple of sets, you'll need all of your energy and determination just to complete your 10 reps. Then as soon as you can easily do 10 sets of 10 with a given weight, increase it.

Rest Intervals

With each successive set your muscles will start fatiguing, so you'll still need a minimal rest period between sets. As with straight sets, the optimum for most people is about 60 seconds. Given the importance of these rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch to time the rest intervals. This is important because it becomes very tempting to lengthen the rest time as you fatigue. But don't give in. Keep your rest periods to no more than a minute during the workout.

Number of Exercises

Nothing complicated here. Perform one and only one exercise per muscle group. For this reason only select the exercises that stimulate the greatest degree of muscle mass. Wherever possible, try to do compound bodybuilding movements instead of isolation exercises. For example, perform squats or leg presses instead of leg extensions, and barbell or dumbell presses instead of cable flyes.

Training Frequency

Because this is such an intense program, it will probably take you longer to recover between workouts. This is especially true the first couple of times you implement it into your workouts. For most bodybuilders, one training session every four or five days per body part is more than sufficient. German Volume Training for the same muscle group is definitely not something you want to abuse by performing two or three times per week.

Increasing the weight

Once you're easily capable of doing 10 sets of 10 reps with a constant rest interval, increase the weight by about 5%. Try not to use other advanced bodybuilding techniques such as forced reps, super sets, or descending sets. Trust us - the increased volume of the work from German Volume Training will more than adequately stimulate muscle growth. Don't be surprised if it takes you a week of recovery just to learn how to walk again after doing a 10X10 squat workout!


Thighs - Squats, Leg Press
Hamstrings - Leg curls, stiff-leg deadlift
Calves - Standing calf raise, toe press on leg press
Chest - Barbell or Dumbell presses (flat or inline)
Back - Rows, Chin-ups
Shoulders - Barbell or dumbell presses
Biceps - Barbell or dumbell curls
Triceps - Lying extensions, dips
Abdominals - Crunches, reverse crunches

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