An extremely effective way to build more muscle in a relatively short period of time

Whether you’re an aficionado or amateur lifter, the likelihood is that you’re always striving to be better than you were yesterday and will try (almost) anything to get those gains, whether it’s a new supplement, refining your nutrition, or trying a new training programme. Ultimately, muscle building takes time and dedication, and those ‘get ripped quick’ programmes rarely achieve what they set out to. But that doesn’t mean that some training protocols aren’t more effective than others, depending on how much you’re willing to endure!

German Volume Training (GVT) is one of those training regimes that stands above the rest. GVT is an extremely effective way to build more muscle in a relatively short period of time. The programme evolved from the 1970s when the German national weightlifting team coach wanted to bulk up the lifters. Then, in the 1990s, Charles Poliquin popularised it as the most demanding yet most effective form of strength training.

If you haven’t worked it out already, GVT is not for the faint hearted – it requires a gruelling level of effort both physically and mentally. I guarantee you’ll question your sanity, want to stop part way through every session and genuinely begin to convince yourself that half a workout is ‘good enough’. However, if you stick with it the results will be awesome and you’ll achieve muscle growth unlike anything you’ve achieved before.

Ready to prove that you’re up for the challenge and become your own superhero? Let’s do it!

What is German Volume Training?

GVT is defined by its distinctive, and somewhat horrifying, sets and reps sequence: 10 sets of 10 reps, with a 60-90 second rest in between each set. You should start with a load that is 60% of your 1RM and work at a tempo of 4-0-2-0. The weight will feel light for the first handful of sets, but you’ll quickly fatigue with the last couple of sets feeling like a struggle. Only add another 5% of weight when you can complete all sets without failing or taking a longer rest period.

Do a maximum of two GVT exercises per session in a single workout. Supplement the 10×10 reps with accessory exercises that target different muscle groups, such as leg extensions, negative pull ups, hip thrusts or lateral raises for 3 sets of 12-15 reps. You can also add in Olympic lifts for variety.  

Always remember, form is more important than weight. If you find that you’re losing your usually perfect form, drop the weight back down. 

What does a GVT programme look like?

For GVT to work, perform it for no more than six weeks split into two three-week phases. In order to recover from each session, I recommend the following GVT split with the weight volume added to every week once you’ve completed 10 sets of 10 reps successfully:

How do you warm up for gvt?

You need to place extra importance on the warmup when doing GVT as it’s hardcore and I don’t recommend starting 10 sets of 10 reps on cold joints and stiff muscles. Start with ten minutes on a row machine or bike, then perform dynamic stretching and mobility exercises, before finally spending ten minutes doing two sets of each GVT exercise with a very light weight before performing the fully weighted movements you’re doing that day.

By warming up the key muscles used, you’ll reduce your risk of injury. 

Is GVT suitable for beginners?

In order to get the most out of GVT, and to prevent injury, you need to have solid technique on the lifts prior to starting this programme. I recommend undertaking at least six months of focused strength work after a General Physical Preparedness period before jumping into a programme as intense as GVT. Furthermore, rather than going straight into 10 sets of 10 reps when you’re ready to take on GVT, build up the volume over three to four weeks – your muscles will thank you!

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