A Complete Guide To 10×10 GVT – German Volume Training

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It is said that the German Volume Training (GVT) method, or the use of a 10 set x 10 rep scheme, was popularized by German national weight lifting coach Rolf Feser. It was used as an off-season method, with a two-fold goal:

  1. Assist lifters with building muscle mass.
  2. Help lifters burn off unwanted body fat.

It was rumored that German Volume Training was such an effective muscle building system that it was not uncommon for members of the weight lifting team to move up a weight class after only 12 weeks.

In 1996, the magazine Muscle Media 2000 featured an article on German Volume Training by Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin.

Jacques Demers, a team Canada lifter, accredited his amazing leg size to German Volume Training. Female bodybuilding sensation Bev Francis has also stated that she used German Volume Training during her early years to build muscle.

German Volume Training Overview

Charles Poliquin has stated: “You preferably alternate with the antagonist “most bang for your buck” exercise.” This is mentioned because most sources on the net overlook antagonistic work, and talk only about straight 10×10 sets for single muscle groups.

The basics of German Volume Training are:

  1. Impactful Exercise Choices. Pick exercises that provide the most bang for your buck. Don’t opt for an easier machine movement, or less taxing compound exercise, when you can go all out with the biggest and baddest compound movements. You will be performing only one 10×10 exercise per muscle group.
  2. Sets and Reps. You perform 10 sets by 10 reps for each primary exercise.
  3. Rest Periods. Rest between the 10×10 sets on main lifts is kept to a strict 90 second. Rest for accessory lifts is limited to 60 seconds between sets.
  4. Antagonistic Muscle Groups. If you can, work using antagonistic muscle groups – Chest and Back, an Overhead Press and a Lat exercise (pull down or pull ups), Quads and Hamstrings, or Biceps and Triceps.
  5. Weight Additions. You only add weight when you are able to perform 10 reps for each of the 10 sets. Do NOT train to failure on any of the sets.
  6. Beginning Weight. Start with approximately 60% of your one rep max, or a weight in which you could perform a single 20 rep set with.
  7. Accessory Exercises. Use 3 sets for 10-20 reps.
  8. Frequency. Training each muscle group every 4 to 5 days is optimal.
  9. Tempo. Charles Poliquin advocates using a specific tempo depending on the type of lift. For long-range movements such as squats, dips and pull ups, a 4 second negative is recommended. For shorter range movements such as curls and tricep extensions, a 3 second negative is recommended. It should ne noted that “tempo” is considered the least important variable in German Volume Training, meaning if you do not focus on it at all, you will still make amazing progress.

It is also recommended that you eat aggressively while utilizing German Volume Training. What’s the point of using an intense program like this if you are not attempting to maximize muscle growth and recovery?

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

Recommended German Volume Training Split

The following is a recommended 5 day German Volume Training split:

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

Due to the intense recovery demands associated with this program, natural trainees may wat to consider working each body part only once per week. A 7 day workout split is provided at the end of this article.

The following is a sample German Volume Training program that is split up into two phases.

Beginner/Intermediate German Volume Training Program: Phase 1

Perform the above 5 day cycle 6 times.

Day 1

Chest and Back
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Bench Press  10  10  90 sec
 Chin Ups (Palms towards face)  10  10  90 sec
 Pec Dec or Incline Flyes  3  10-12  60 sec
 One Arm Dumbbell Rows  3  10-12  60 sec

Day 2

Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Squats  10  10  90 sec
 Leg Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Weighted Sit Up  3  15-20  60 sec
 Calf Raises  3  15-20  60 sec

Day 4

Arms and Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Dips  10  10  90 sec
 Dumbbell Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Dumbbell Lateral Raise  3  10-12  60 sec
 Bent Over Reverse Laterals  3  10-12  60 sec

Beginner/Intermediate German Volume Training Program: Phase 2

Phase two lasts 3 weeks. For the 10 sets x 6 rep exercises, use a weight that would normally allow you to perform 12 reps per set.

Day 1

Chest and Back
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Incline Dumbbell Bench Press  10  6  90 sec
 Wide Grip Pull ups  10  6  90 sec
 Dumbbell Flyes  3  6  60 sec
 Cable Rows or Barbell Rows  3  6  60 sec

Day 2

Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Deadlifts  10  6  90 sec
 Leg Curls  10  6  90 sec
 Cable Crunches  3  12-15  60 sec
 Standing Calf Raise  3  12-15  60 sec

Day 4

Shoulders and Arms
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Close Grip Bench Press  10  6  90 sec
 EZ Bar Curl  10  6  90 sec
 Dumbbell Lateral Raise  3  12-15  60 sec
 bent Over Reverse Laterals  3  12-15  60 sec

Muscle and Brawn GVT Variation

The following is the Muscle and Brawn – German Volume Training variation. Phase A lasts 4 weeks and focuses on 10×10 sets. Phase B is a 2 week recovery period, which utilizes the same weight but a lot less volume.

The split is as follows:

  • Day 1 – Chest and Upper Back
  • Day 2 – Legs and Abs
  • Day 3 – Off
  • Day 4 – Shoulders and Lats
  • Day 5 – Biceps and Triceps
  • Day 6 – Off
  • Day 7 – Off

Day 1

Chest and Upper Back
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Bench Press  10  10  90 sec
 Barbell Rows  10  10  90 sec
 Pec Dec or Incline Dumbbell Flyes  3  10-15  60 sec
 Seated Cable Rows  3  10-15  60 sec

Day 2

Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Squats  10  10  90 sec
 Leg Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Calf Raises  3  10-15  60 sec
 Weighted Sit Ups  3  10-20  60 sec

Day 4

Shoulders and Lats
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Seated Barbell Press  10  10  90 sec
 Lat Pull Down or Pull Ups  10  10  90 sec
 Bent Over Reverse Flyes  3  10-15  60 sec
 Straight Arm Lat Pull Downs  3  10-15  60 sec

Day 5

Biceps and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Dips  10  10  90 sec
 Dumbbell Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Cable Tricep Extensions  3  10-15  60 sec
 EZ Bar Preacher Curls  3  10-15  60 sec

Phase B. During phase B you utilize the same weight as you did during your last Phase A workout, drop the 10×10 exercises to 5 sets x 10 reps. Everything else remains the same.

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Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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