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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.

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the founder of Muscle and Brawn, and a powerlifter with 30+ years of experience. Steve's recorded a 600lb squat, 672lb deadlift and a 382lb bench press.
Steve Shaw

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  • josue Feb 18,2017 at 1:13 pm

    i just confuse in the arms/shoulder day. why only the arms have 10 x 10 and not the shoulders. in the muscle and brawn variation is better because you have one day specially for the arms and another shoulder and lats, but why in the other one shoulder/arms only the arms are 10 x 10 and not the shoulders? sorry if the question is too long.

  • Paul Aug 30,2015 at 4:56 pm

    Cam someone clarify. I understand the concept of this but not sure about supersetting.
    For example. Can I do 1 set of primary (ie chest) supersetted by another primary (ie back) then rest 90 sec and do that 10 times?
    Thanks for hour help

  • Kate Jul 21,2015 at 2:34 pm

    Is this something you would recommend for women?

    • Rob Aug 3,2015 at 4:50 pm

      Male or female, when it comes to bodybuilding the same principles apply!

  • Grant Jun 1,2015 at 2:07 am

    Great program i did this a few years ago and was awesome am about to do again but this time I only have access to free wieghts what would you recommend for substitute of leg curls using free wieghts only. Cheers

    • Jack Jun 6,2015 at 4:57 pm

      Stiff legged deadlifts

    • eric Aug 25,2015 at 6:25 pm

      Lungs or farmers walks

  • fart Apr 21,2015 at 7:08 pm

    This is by no means a complete guide. You should not be getting questions like “What if I cannot complete all reps in every set?” It would be better for everyone that finds this article if you would finish it. Doing this routine with only partial information can result in no gains and/or injury. Fix it, ffs…

  • azhy Apr 12,2015 at 1:54 pm

    First I would like to give my appreciate to this useful guide on GVT … Regarding this program I have a question and it is : I have been training for almost 5 years but never doing this program so should I start with Beginner / intermediate program or with the advanced ?
    With best regards

  • Bean Curd Apr 1,2015 at 5:53 am

    So this programme recommends adding weight the next week when we can complete an entire 10×10 set.

    What happens when we reach a weight whereby we reach failure? For example, if I could hit 10 reps the first 4 sets then could only do 7 the next?
    Do I take a longer rest period? Do I reduce the weight or keep it the same?

    What happens in the next session? Should I re-attempt the same weight and try to complete the 10×10 or reduce the weight to something I could definitely complete a 10×10?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Byron Apr 29,2015 at 12:05 pm

      If you are reaching failure early, consider your rest period. With the bench press, if you are failing at set 4, you may need to lower your weight. You want to make sure that you are only lifting 60% of your max. Once you get the 10ht rep of the 10 set, you can increase your weight to a maximum of 5%, but no higher. I am doing it now, and it’s tough.

    • jim Jul 23,2015 at 11:30 pm

      Keep weight the same until 10×10 is hit…a good weight should have you like 10 10 10 10 10 9 7 7 6 5 . Just grind till you hit it then go up.

  • Graham Nolan Nov 26,2014 at 5:33 pm

    In the beginning, the last workout is on a Thursday with Friday off. Does that mean you start day 1 of week two on Saturday or are Friday, Saturday and Sunday rest days and pick up again on Monday?

    • Alex Zayat Mar 30,2015 at 4:44 pm

      It means that you start again on monday, leaving the entire weekend to rest. Thats what i understood after reading a few gvt articles, but im not certain of it.

  • Bill Nov 19,2014 at 6:01 am

    In the ‘Beginner/Intermediate German Volume Training Program: Phase 2’ it says: “Phase two lasts 3 weeks”. I was wondering whether this is the same as phase one so 5 day cycles for 3 weeks, or is this 3 workouts per week for 3 weeks?

    • PT Nov 19,2014 at 5:47 pm

      You should do the phase 1 program for six splits (six 5-day cycles, so 30 days), then do three weeks of a lower program that uses 6 to 8 reps, which will let your body recover, and then proceed to phase 2. Phase 2 should be as well as phase 1 six 5 day cycles, so 30 days.

  • Ash Oct 6,2014 at 12:15 am

    Hey, I was wondering about the antagonist sets. In the original gvt, the split was 10 reps of bench, followed by 90sec rest, 10 reps of rows, 90 sec rest and repeat for 10 sets. For the muscle and brawn gvt, do you propose it to be in this way? Or is it fine to do it in sequence, ie, 10 reps of bench, 90 sec rest, 10 reps of bench…for 10 sets. Thanks for the help!

    • PT Nov 19,2014 at 1:45 am

      Rest Intervals: 60 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a super-set.

  • Jesse Oct 5,2014 at 2:23 pm

    SHould i perform any variation of progrssive overloading withing these 10 sets? Im just used to using a warm-up set, and two progrssive sets,hitting failure on the last rep of the last set(4th set). So can i do this every 2 sets, and still complete 10 sets?

    • Alex Nov 22,2014 at 3:24 am

      Yes and no. Don’t change the weight throughout the workout. If you reach 10×10 one session, increase the weight by about 5% next session – that’s where your progressive overload comes in. Obviously still warm up though, especially your rotator cuff EVERY session – it comes under a lot of strain during this workout.

  • tony Aug 18,2014 at 11:54 am

    I’m 165lb and usually do sets of 4 / 10 reps of bicep curls using 25 pounds

    or another example I usually do 4 sets / 10 reps of bench press using 135 lbs.

    What reasonable numbers am I looking at doing GVT for someone at my level?

    • PT Nov 19,2014 at 1:51 am

      Biceps curls: 20 lbs.

      Bench Press: 105 lbs.

    • Alex Nov 22,2014 at 3:26 am

      Do you know what your 1RM is for each exercise? If you do, start with 50-60% of this. For instance I bench about 180lb, but first chest session was about 100lb, believe me, it’s enough to really feel it by set 6/7!!

      • d3r3zz3d May 20,2015 at 10:30 am

        No offense but if you can’t bench or squat with 2 plates on each side you need to spend a few more years before GVT will really benefit you…standard progressive overload will suffice any novice for years…programs like GVT help seasoned lifters overcome plateaus in size…stick to the basic routines you learned in high school for a few more years

        • That guy Jul 5,2015 at 1:17 pm

          Usually when comments are starts off with “no offense” they are in fact offensive.

      • Arnold Aug 13,2015 at 6:54 am


  • Jeremy Jun 24,2014 at 1:59 pm

    Please someone clarify. On the phase 2 above it says, “Pick a weight that you would normally do 12 reps per set.” This would be for the 10 X 6reps. This would meant that in Phase 2 the 10 X 6reps would be very light? Did they mean to say “Pick a weight that you would only be able to do 12 reps.”


    • Wade Jul 24,2014 at 5:28 am

      No it’s written correct. Phase two is deload, so a couple of weeks still lifting and stressing the muscles but no as hard so as to give them time to fully repair. You’ll notice after this deload phase you will feel even stronger going back into phase one.

  • denny Mar 4,2014 at 1:19 am

    While doing the GVT programe can I still do my normal cardio(treadmill)

  • Lefteris Panos Nov 15,2013 at 6:13 am

    Hello ,Thank you for your guide into the GVT, I would like to ask something, I mostly do heavy sets, meaning 3 sets of 3 or 3 of 2 or 5 of 1 etc… focus more on the strength part, but I want to put some more mass, mostly in the legs part because I can squat 160-170 kgs (1max rep) but I don’t have a lot of mass in them, so I was thinking of taking on the GvT routine…My question is this, I wouldn’t want to sucrifice my strength for building mass, so could seperate the Gvt Week per week, I mean ! week follow, the Gvt program and the other just go on with my strength routines…would that be ok , or it’s too much for the body??

    Thank you very much, hello from Greece/

    • Kade Feb 13,2014 at 7:36 pm

      Your body can handle switching routines, I promise! In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now (alternating Body Beast with this program here)

      • power Apr 5,2014 at 6:02 pm

        yeah… great way to not make any real progress and just dick around…

        • Alex Nov 22,2014 at 3:27 am

          Lol @ power!! Totally agree haha – but in a nicer way, this is a pure hypertrophy program with strict progression. You won’t lose much strength in 4 weeks anyway.

  • thiago Aug 26,2013 at 10:39 pm

    gostaria de receber um treino completo para definição e hipertrofia muscular bem detalhado.

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