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German Volume Training for Massive Muscle Growth

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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

German Volume Training builds muscle like nothing else.

German Volume Training builds muscle like nothing else.

Build Muscle With German Volume Training

If you want to gain as much muscle mass as possible as quickly as possible you should give German Volume Training a try.

It’s tough and it’s not for beginners, but if you’ve been training a while and made some good gains, but perhaps your progress has slowed down and you need a change, this could be what you’ve been looking for to take your results to the next level.

This method of training has been used with great success since at least the early '70s. Bev Francis used it in her early days of bodybuilding to make her the most massively muscled female bodybuilder of her time. And Jacques Demers, a team Canada lifter, accredited his exceptional leg development to German Volume Training.

German Volume Training can produce amazing results; of that, there is no doubt. But what exactly does this training method entail, and what’s the best way to use it? In this article, I’ll give you the answers to those questions.

What Is German Volume Training?

German Volume Training (or GVT) is also known as the ten sets method. It involves doing an exercise for 10 sets, usually of 10 reps, so it’s a very high-volume workout routine. But that is what creates the extreme hypertrophic response that this type of training is known for.

Your aim is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight, so you can’t go too heavy. Start off with a weight that you could do 20 reps with if you pushed to the limit. For most exercises that will be about 60% of your one-rep max. But if you are in any doubt it’s better to underestimate the weight rather than overestimate.

Your first few sets will feel quite easy, but they will get progressively more difficult as the fatigue sets in. And in fact, when you first try it you may not be able to do the full 10 reps on all 10 sets. But just do as many as you can on the last few sets (but without going to failure).

Keep your rest periods between sets fairly short—no more than 90 seconds. This is important, so use a stopwatch to time yourself; otherwise, there is a temptation to lengthen the rest periods as you become more fatigued. When you can do 10 reps on all 10 sets, increase the weight by about 5% for your next workout.

With GVT you should only do one exercise per body part, and no more than two exercises per workout. Though up to two additional supplementary exercises can be done after these for a more conventional set and rep regimen; say three sets of 10.

If you are doing two exercises using this method it’s best to do them for opposing muscle groups, e.g. chest and back or quads and hams (or you can simply do any pushing movement together with any pulling movement for the upper body). And when performing the exercises you can either do all 10 sets of one exercise followed by all 10 sets of the other, or you can alternate the two exercises. Either way works just fine, so do whichever you prefer.

GVT is a very intense and demanding method of training, so it will take you longer to recover from than most other training methods. For this reason one training session every 5 to 7 days per body part is sufficient. A good plan, therefore, is to split your body into three and either do each workout once per week or do a five-day rotation, i.e., 2 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off. So that would mean you would train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday etc. alternating the three workouts.

Based on the above, a typical GVT routine might look something like this:

German Volume Training Workout Regimen

Workout 1 – Chest & Back

  • Bench Press 10 X 10
  • Close Grip Pulldowns 10 X 10
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes 3 X 10
  • Cable Rows 3 X 10
Scroll to Continue

Workout 2 – Legs & Abs

  • Squats 10 X 10
  • Lying Leg Curls 10 X 10
  • Calf Raise 4 X 10
  • Leg Raise 3 X 10

Workout 3 – Arms & Shoulders

  • Parallel Bar Dips 10 X 10
  • Barbell Curl 10 X 10
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 X 10
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 X 10

You can alternate the bench press and the pulldowns in workout 1, the squats and the leg curls in workout 2 and the parallel bar dips and barbell curls in workout 3 if you wish.

Do this for 6 weeks (or 6 5-day cycles), and then move on to a lower volume transition phase for 3 weeks/cycles. During this phase, you can do the same exercises, but do each for just 3 sets of 8 reps, using the same weight as you used in your last GVT workout.

GVT Phase 2

After the transition phase, you can return to GVT if you wish. But this time do 10 sets of 6 reps using a weight that you’d normally be able to do for 12 reps. You can use the same exercises as before if you wish, or you can change them to similar ones, as in the example below.

Workout 1 – Chest & Back

  • Incline Bench Press 10 X 6
  • Bent-Over Row 10 X 6
  • Dumbbell Flyes 3 X 10
  • Pull-Ups 3 X 10

Workout 2 – Legs & Abs

  • Leg Press 10 X 6
  • Seated Leg Curls 10 X 6
  • Calf Raise 4 X 10
  • Leg Pull-Ins 3 X 10

Workout 3 – Arms & Shoulders

  • Close Grip Bench Press 10 X 6
  • EZ Bar Curl 10 X 6
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 X 10
  • Face Pulls 3 X 10

Do this for another 6 weeks/cycles, and then take a week off. After this, you should probably use a different training method for a while—perhaps a more strength-focused regimen. You can then return to GVT at a later date if you wish.

Recovery Considerations

GVT takes a lot out of you, so you’ll need to ensure you are able to recover properly. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep and don’t be too active in other areas if you can help it.

You’ll also need to eat a lot. This is crucial as you can’t grow on effort alone. So increase your calorie intake, and make sure you get plenty of protein (up to about 1.5 g per pound of body weight per day), as well as lots of complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.), some good healthy fats to ensure efficient hormone production, and a decent amount of fruit and vegetables.

But keep it clean. If you are very lean you can get away with some junk (refined, processed, and sugary) food, but otherwise try to avoid it as much as possible.

So that’s German Volume Training—possibly the most productive mass building training system in the world. It’s quite common to gain 10 pounds of muscle during that initial 6-week phase, and some people gain much more than that. So give it a go and do let me know how you get on. If you have any questions just ask them in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


David (author) from Birmingham, UK on July 06, 2014:

Yes Will; you should definitely keep the exercises the same over the initial six weeks. You should also keep them the same in phase 2 for the full six weeks too.

will on July 05, 2014:

Thanks for the article.

During the initial 6 weeks of GVT, is it best to keep the exercises the same from week to week? Thanks.

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