German Volume Training is an old-school training program popularized by strength coach Charles Poliquin. The weightlifters he trained reportedly used this program in the off-season to bulk up and add a lot of muscle mass fast.
While the primary aim of this program is to build muscle, you can expect to gain strength as well.
The basic outline of the program is this:
- Three workouts per week. With at least one rest day in between. Train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example.
- Supersets. Every workout contains two supersets with two exercises each. The supersets will keep the total workout time down while still allowing for high volume.
- Big compound lifts. Bench press, squats, rows – German Volume Training is based on big exercises to pump up all your largest muscle groups.
Below is an overview of the program.
Let’s take a closer look at the program, including its exercises.
German Volume Training: The Program
You are recommended to follow this training program for about 4–6 weeks before deloading or switching up your routine.
You will train three times per week, each training session consisting of four exercises, split into two supersets x two exercises. The first superset generally consists of the main lifts, and the second superset consists of accessory lifts and supplementary work.
Here’s how the first week of the program looks, assuming you train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:
Day 1 (Monday): Chest & Back
- Bench Press: 10 sets x 10 reps x 60% of 1RM
- Barbell Row: 10 sets x 10 reps x 60% of 1RM
- Standing Cable Chest Fly: 3 sets x 10 reps
- Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10 reps
Day 2 (Wednesday): Legs & Abs
- Squat: 10 sets x 10 reps x 60% of 1RM
- Lying Leg Curl: 10 sets x 10 reps x 60% of 1RM
- Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps
- Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps
Day 3 (Friday): Arms & Shoulders
- Close-Grip Bench Press: 10 sets x 6 reps
- Barbell Curl: 10 sets x 6 reps
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 3 sets x 6 reps
- Reverse Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets x 6 reps
German Volume Training: Calculator
Enter your 1RM’s in the fields below, and we’ll calculate your training weights for the first week!
For the next 4–6 weeks, increase the load by ~2% per week.
If you download our workout tracker app StrengthLog (free) and follow the program, we will do this for you:
Besides holding a bunch of free training programs for you to use indefinitely, the app also works as an orderly and awesome workout log to track your training.
Best of all:
It is 100% free.
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The German Volume Training Plan
All right, let’s take a closer look at the German Volume Training routine itself.
- Workout 1 and 2 begins with 10 set x 10 reps at 60% of 1RM in two exercises each, and they comprise the core of the program.
- We recommend that you increase these lifts by 2% for every week you run the program (62% in week two, 64% in week three, etc.). This is the progression we use in the app.
- The third workout deviates from this style, with slightly lower repetitions per exercise.
In exercises that don’t have a weight specified, you will have to choose a weight for yourself. Pick a weight that you can lift with proper form for the specified number of repetitions and try to increase the weight each week.
Supersets to Supersize You!
Every pair of exercises in this program should be supersetted.
A superset is when you move back and forth between two exercises. In the case of workout 1, the first superset consists of bench press and barbell rows. After every set of bench presses, you do one set of barbell rows. Then one more set of bench presses followed by one set of barbell rows, and so on until you have completed ten sets of each.
The second and last superset of workout 1 consists of three sets each of standing cable chest flyes and lat pulldowns. Move back and forth between these until you have completed three sets of each.
Rest Time Between Sets
Rest for as long as necessary between sets to be able to perform all lifts at the desired weight and with good technique.
You don’t have to move with minimal rest between the exercises in the supersets, unless, of course, you prefer training that way. I suggest you rest at least 60–90 seconds between sets to keep your weights and performance up.
In the last weeks of the program, when the weights have increased several times, you might need to extend these rest periods even further.
All in all, using a rest time between sets that suits you and your preferred way of training is probably more important than following constant rest intervals dictated by someone else.
If you want to learn more about how rest between sets affect your training results, check out our article on the topic, linked below.
Read more: How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?
This Routine Is Not for the Beginner
Doing 10 sets x 10 reps of one and the same exercise is a lot of work, and this training program is therefore not appropriate for a beginner, but rather an advanced lifter. Experienced lifters both tolerate higher training volumes and also need higher training volumes to gain muscle and strength at all.
If you’re not used to such a high training volume, you could even get better results from doing fewer sets per training session, and you might want to go through our beginner barbell program first.1
German Volume Training FAQ
Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions about this program.
- What results can you expect from the German Volume Training program?
- How long should you do German Volume Training?
- Is German Volume Training a good or bad program?
- Is German Volume Training good for muscle hypertrophy?
- Does German Volume Training burn fat?
What Results Can You Expect From The German Volume Training Program?
The German Volume Training system is a high-volume training program based on compound exercises, and it will therefore be effective both for building muscle and strength.
The program might only consist of three workouts per week, but these workouts are pretty intense with their high number of sets performed in a supersetted fashion. Because of this, you might also expect your work capacity and cardiovascular endurance to improve.
How Long Should You Do German Volume Training?
We recommend that you follow this training program for about 4–6 weeks, increasing the weight each week. At that point, you might either deload for a week or two before doing another cycle of GVT, or you might switch to some of our other training programs.
Is German Volume Training a Good or Bad Program?
I would say that German Volume Training is an advanced program, and therefore good for some while bad for others.
- If you are new to lifting and not accustomed to high training volume, a program like GVT is likely excessive, and you would make better gains on a lower volume program like our beginner barbell program.
- If you’ve been lifting for a long time, have a high volume tolerance, and are looking for something to jolt you back into growth mode, then 4–6 weeks of GVT might just do the trick.
Is German Volume Training Good for Muscle Hypertrophy?
Provided that you can handle the training volume, yes: GVT is good for muscle hypertrophy. You will be working every major muscle group with plenty of sets in a rep range that is proven effective for muscle growth.
The GVT program has a higher emphasis on your upper than your lower body, with two training sessions dedicated to your upper body but only one for your lower. That said, every body part is likely worked enough to see significant increases, and doing ten sets of squats, lying leg curls, and calf raises probably requires up to a week of recovery anyway.
Does German Volume Training Burn Fat?
Old-school bodybuilder Vince Gironda reportedly used the 10 x 10 training system as an effective way to cut down before competitions while preserving lean body mass.
Now, as you can read in our guide on how to cut, losing body fat has way more to do with a caloric deficit than doing an extensive volume of sets and reps in the gym. And preserving your lean body mass during a cut is mostly about stimulating your muscles to grow with adequate training while eating a lot of protein.
So, no, I would not say that GVT burns fat. You need a caloric deficit for that. Can GVT be a suitable training program while losing fat during a cut for an experienced lifter? Absolutely. Although you might need to be prepared to decrease the training volume as you get further into the cut and empty your glycogen stores.
German Volume Training is an intense program, but give it your best shot for 4–6 weeks combined with plenty of food and rest, and you’re set to pump up your muscles and gain a ton of strength.
For continued muscle and strength gains, however, you must increase the weights you are lifting. Fail to do so, and your muscles won’t be challenged to grow bigger and stronger. The best way to keep track of your lifts and consistently progress your weights is to download our app StrengthLog and follow this program.
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