If there’s one thing that classical bodybuilders and modern sports researchers can agree on, it is this: that you need to pack on some volume if you want to see gains, and if you want to cut your fat hard.
Volume has always been a key ingredient in the bodybuilding matrix, and there’s just no way around it – if you’re lazy, or if you are only hitting the weights half-heartedly, you cannot possibly expect miracles.
Now, in order to increase the overall volume of your workouts, the increase has to reflect in your reps and sets. Increasing the resistance isn’t really the first thing you should do, as this will likely reduce your volume because higher resistance accelerates muscle fatigue.
On the other hand, doing high-rep sets too much can remove you from the hypertrophy zone pretty quickly.
The German strength coach Charles Poliquin was well aware of the limitations of the conventional sets that worked like a slide rule when it came to reps and resistance: the tendency is to simply reduce resistance to increase the repetitions, and vice versa.
Poliquin developed an alternative to the conventional technique which required too much experimentation to offer any fast benefits to both beginners and intermediate bodybuilders. His technique is called German Volume Training or GVT, and you should definitely pay attention if you have been having trouble with cutting or gaining.
The GVT Principle
German Volume Training, also called the Ten Sets Method, is actually one of the more brutal approaches to packing muscle and building strength. However, if you are serious about making those gains, you will not shy away from it.
While it’s true that any method of training will inevitably work, use German Volume Training if you want faster results.
However, it is imperative that you remain consistent, and you take the principles to heart. The goal of GVT is for the bodybuilder to complete 10 sets of 10 reps per set.
You are going to use the same resistance for each set. To determine the appropriate resistance if you are just starting out, reduce the resistance until you can perform sets of 20 reps easily.
That’s the sweet spot: go no higher if you are just starting out. In most cases, the resistance will be 60% of 1 RM (one rep max).
For example, if you can bench-press 200 lbs., 120 lbs. would be the sweet spot we’re looking for.
German Volume Training works because it creates plenty of tension in multiple motor units, and the tensions goes on and on for a longer period of time, compared to other training methods. The extended period of repetition with 60% of 1 RM resistance prompts the body to respond with muscular hypertrophy.
The muscle fibers split, and voila – you begin packing lean muscle mass by prolonging the muscular strain in a systematic way.
How effective is GVT? There have been anecdotal reports of people gaining as much as ten pounds in just half a year of consistently using GVT. This is huge, given the fact that the Ten Set Method works well with both beginners and expert bodybuilders.
The GVT method can be used for all the major muscle groups. A five-day program can look like this: on the first day do chest and back, followed by legs and abs on the second day. Third day will be your rest day.
On the fourth day, do arms and shoulders, followed again by another rest day on the fifth day. It’s important that you have regular rest days to give your body sufficient time to heal and recovery.
Recovery means the muscles are consolidating, and rebuilding the muscle fibers at the tissue level. As with any new training method, remember to always write down your sets and reps, and any observations you may have during workout days.
Write down anything that comes to mind during and after the workout, so you will have a detailed record of how you are progressing with the training method that you have chosen to apply.
German Volume Training FAQ
How important is the rest interval?
Many bodybuilders who begin with German Volume Training often skip one or two rest days and just go full steam ahead with a continuous chain of workouts. This is brought about by the fact that the resistance used will feel light, and therefore, “non-beneficial.”
The resistance is supposed to be lighter than the usual, because you are aiming for frequency, and not intensity. Also, there is plenty of cumulative fatigue involved, so the rest days are important to keep your muscle tissues healthy.
What kind of tempo is ideal?
The ideal tempo for German Volume Training is 4-0-2, which is basically doing a four-second negative phase, followed by a two-second positive phase (upward). For movements like triceps curls that recruit smaller muscle groups, the negative phase should be shorter by just one second, so the tempo will be 3-0-2.
How many workouts per day?
You will be performing just one workout per day, focusing on one or two muscle groups. That’s why you should try to do movements that recruit a lot of other minor muscle groups to make the workout really effective for the entire body.
But we don’t want to do additional isolation workouts for other muscle groups apart from the one or two that you want to work on for the day because we ware after volume, and you can’t negotiate on the volume. So less fatigue from other movements is necessary to make GVT work.
Should I try an entire week of GVT?
You can spread the sessions throughout the week, but seven days a week of GVT is too much. That’s pushing your body to the extreme, and you don’t really need to do this to see the results. The GVT has been rated to have a power factor rating of about eight billion, which makes it one of the most stressful techniques around.