Getting Started with German Volume Training – 10×10 Workout

Review of 10×10 German Volume Training (GVT) Workout

What is German Volume Training?

German Volume Training is an under-utilized fitness workout routine that is designed to help improve your functional movements and muscle mass growth.

German volume training (GVT) focuses on growing muscles through high amounts of time-under-tension movements that stimulates growth and development. This is achieved through repeated movements made up of 10 sets of 10 reps of a single exercise.

This stimulates muscle mass as well as improving functional and primal movements that are extremely important for sport and overall health.

German Volume Training can be seen as a template for following a 10×10 workout routine in any capacity. However, it is most effective when the focus is on compound exercises, such as deadlifts, bench press, and squats.

Benefits of German Volume Training

German Volume Training is a tried and tested workout routine. It hit the big time during the 70s when German weightlifters were using this technique in the off season to gain lean body mass. In more recent years, it has been pioneered by sports coaches such as Charles Poliguin. Charles has used this routine to help optimize the performance of some of the best professional athletes in the world.

The 10×10 GVT routine is very effective at improving muscular endurance by targeting muscle fibres with high volumes of work in a short period of time.

Our obsession with strength can often be detrimental to our muscle building and muscle mass capacity. Just trying to lift heavy weights will not reap the benefits of a scientifically backed workout like GVT. Lean mass is what is useful in life, not absolute strength (unless you are an Olympic weightlifter). As a result, this kind of training is much more useful to the everyday person.

We can forget to see the bigger picture and those who adopt routines like the 10×10 see a spike in muscular endurance, which in turn helps reduce injury, support muscle growth and helps improve functional muscle development and power.

German Volume Training, sometimes referred to as 10 sets method, offers the perfect platform for people looking to improve their hypotrophy. As Charles Poliguin says himself ‘….credit to the German method for achieving such a spectacular level of hypertrophy.’

Who’s it for?

German Volume Training is highly recommended for everyone. It is draining on your body so it is better suited to people who have a bit of experience in weight training however it isn’t just something for bodybuilders. Everyone can benefit from this kind of training.

The ability to develop muscular endurance and hypotrophy means that it is incredibly useful for anyone partaking in sport.

The German Volume Training Workout Plan

The key elements of German Volume Training are the volume of weight you are forcing your muscles to move and the tempo at which you do this. GVT requires controlled movements.

It is recommended to follow a 4-0-2 tempo.

This means you lower the weight for 4 seconds (eccentric movement), pause, and then lift the weight for 2 seconds.

You may notice this makes the exercises a lot slower than you’d normally do and this is just another reason why GVT is so intense.

German Volume Schedule

Monday – Chest and Back

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Legs and Abs

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Arms and Shoulders

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Rest

GVT Workout

An example GVT workout is shown below. These exercises are designed to pack the biggest punch and offer full range movements so encompass as many muscle groups as possible.

Routine 1 includes the bulk of the training session with routine 2 designed to complement and finish off the training session. The reason why routine 2 only includes 3 sets is to avoid over-training.

Chest and Back

Routine 1

Bench Press – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 temp

rest…followed by

Chin-Up – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest…repeat 10 sets

Routine 2

Dumbbell Fly – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest…followed by

Dumbbell row – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 temp

rest… repeat 3 times.

Legs and Abs

Routine 1

Barbell Squat – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest…followed by

Leg Curls – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 temp

rest… repeat 10 times

Routine 2

Calf Raise – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest… followed by

Leg Pull Ins  -10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest… repeat 3 times

Arms and Shoulders

Routine 1

Military Press – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 tempo

rest…followed by

Tricep Dips – 10 reps at a 4-0-2 temp

rest… repeat 10 times

Routine 2

Barbell Curl – 10 reps at a 3-0-2 tempo

rest…followed by

Lateral Raises – 10 reps at a 3-0-2 tempo

rest… repeat 3 times

Adaptability

German Volume Training is very adaptable for different exercises so the above provides an example workout but you can choose exercises that best reflect the goals you want to achieve. Ideally pick compound movements for routine 1 and complementary exercises for routine 2.

Tips for German Volume Training Success

German Volume Training is a tough workout but the rewards are clear. Before giving it a go, make sure you get clued up with these tips and tricks to ensure you give yourself a fighting chance with this workout.

Record, Track and Monitor Progress

German Volume Training involves a big commitment in the gym, but it’s important to track and monitor your progress. This would be recommended for any training plan but particularly so for GVT. German Volume Training isn’t known for its diversity as you’ll be doing the same exercises over and over again. When you’re doing that many sets, it’s easy to lose track of what set you’re on. You want to make sure you’re doing 10 sets during your workout and this is easier when you’ve got it all recorded in front of you.

You also want to ensure you’re resting in between sets for the right amount of time. In the first few sets when you’re still fresh you may want to rush this, or similarly, towards the end, you may be resting too long.

Optimal Weight

The aim of German Volume Training is to complete a 10×10 workout. Don’t pick a weight that’ll make this impossible. If you’re max bench press is 100kg, don’t attempt this workout with a 95kg bench. You won’t make it.

Ideally pick somewhere between 50-60% of your max output. So if you can bench 100kg, use 50-60kg.

Remember, we’re not training until failure, we’re training for volume.

Being successful in fitness training is about understanding your body and how it reacts to exercise. You may find more success by adapting the module to suit your body. For example, a popular adaptation is to go for a 10×8 model for one compound exercise, followed by a 10×2 for a complementary exercise. Discover what gets you the best results.

Changing the Cycle

When starting out the German Volume 10 Sets Method Training, it is recommended to follow a 6 week cycle.

This is a good starting point but you can either shorten or length this time. It would be recommended to take some time off if you fall in love with GVT so your body has adequate time to recover in between cycles.

The level of repetition can potentially cause repetitive strain soft tissue injuries so my preferred option is to alternate between two different exercises if you stick with GVT for over 6 weeks.

If you’re a beginner then it would also be recommended to build up to the 10×10 structure. Rather than jumping straight in at 10×10, your body and muscles may thank you if you spend a few weeks integrating into a volume training routine. For example, in week 1, follow a 5×10 routine. In week 2 and 3, move up to 6×10 and 8×10 respectively. This means by week 4 when you try German Volume Training, your muscles are slightly more prepared and won’t go into meltdown after your first attempt.

Rest and Recovery

10×10 training is gruelling on your body and muscles. Without enough rest and recovery, your immune system and muscles will suffer and you’ll end up unable to train.

Not taking rest seriously with German Volume Training and any high volume workouts will result in serious muscle soreness, also known as the DOMS  (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Even if you rest efficiently, you may find yourself looking for the best treatment for DOMS and muscle soreness.

Rest and recovery is one of the most ill-informed areas of fitness. Proper rest and recovery should follow that of professional athletes where they undergo specific stretching, sports physio and pre-hab exercises to ensure their bodies are ready to perform intense workouts.

Controlled Movements

Good form and controlled movements are the fundamentals to strength and fitness workouts. For optimal gains make sure your form is perfect and that your movements are measured and controlled.

Doing 10 sets of an exercise with bad form will only lead to injury. This is particularly important for compound exercises like deadlifts and squats.

Exercise Selection

Exercise selection is key with German Volume Training. The best option would be to go for exercises that allow maximum weight and range of motion. This includes compound lifts and functional movements.

As you begin German Volume Training, don’t fall for picking your favourite exercises. Chances are these exercises focus on your strengths and will not help strength your weaknesses. Instead, pick exercises that will create overall fitness improvements.

You won’t see Olympic athletes spend hours doing bicep curls because they know this isn’t an effective use of their time. Instead, they focus on exercise and workouts that yield results. Again, this relates to compound movements and exercises.

If you’re enjoying GVT training, then you could even think about adding in HIIT workouts that follow a 10×10 structure. Over time, you can get creative and learn what you want to achieve and whether a 10×10 workout structure will benefit you.

If you need some ideas, check out some of the exercises below

Chest – Bench Press, Dumbbell Flies, Incline Dumbbell Press,

Back – Pull-Ups, T-Bar Rows, Bent-Over Rows, Lat Pull Downs

Shoulders – Military Press, Seated Overhead Press, Lateral Raises

Arms – Tricep Dips, Curls, Skullcrushers, Close grip bench press

Legs – Squats, Deadlifts, Calf raises, leg lifts

Fuel Your Body with a GVT Diet

The 10×10 Sets Method of training takes a lot out of you. Make sure you are fuelling your body correctly. This isn’t a workout plan to lose weight. This is a workout for muscular endurance and hypertrophy. You’ll probably need to take on more food, but ensure this is still healthy and providing the right kind of nutrients your body will need.

Useful Equipment

The equipment needed for German Volume Training will depend on what exercises you choose to do. Generally, you’ll probably need a barbell with plenty of bumper plates. This can be used for compound movements like bench press, squats, deadlifts and shoulder press. Make sure you don’t forget about gym mats to ensure you don’t damage the floor during deadlifts.

For exercises like bench press, you’ll also need a bench. You’ll also probably want to consider a squat rack to make squats easier. Look for a squat rack with a pull-up bar attached so you can also have somewhere to do pull-ups.

You’ll also want a good selection of dumbbells as these offer great versatility for a variety of exercises.

Final Thoughts

German Volume Training won’t be for everyone. It requires a dedication that many people simply can’t commit to. However, if you can stick with this protocol, then the benefits in terms of muscle development and mass are very apparent. More reps means more time under the bar which means you’ll be able to perfect form and muscle building movements.

Don’t expect to get stronger, but do expect to develop bigger muscles and superior muscular mass.

Injury and illness due to not enough rest or nutrients are quite common so make sure you respect this workout and adapt your lifestyle to accommodate for the extra energy required to complete it.

If you enjoy new workouts and haven’t tried GVT then it’s definitely something to give a go.

Let us know your thoughts and ideas of German Volume Training in the comments below. We’d love to hear how you get on.

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