German volume training is a prevalent workout regime among bodybuilders. Such practice is aimed to increase mass and build muscles. If your goal is to show off those strengths and become a toned ideal, this will be the program for you.
When it comes to building muscle, some programs are more effective than others, especially when it all comes to the visual side, as bodybuilding is heavily focused on that. And while there is no magic overnight workout that will make up for years of a couch-potato lifestyle, German volume lifting bears the fastest results. If you are ready for a bit of sweat (A LOT, actually), check out the program’s basics and an exemplary workout plan for a week!
German volume training routine was introduced back in the 1990s by Charles Poliquin, a Canadian strength coach. By focusing on volume during his own workouts and adopting the method for his clients, Poliquin has proved the method’s topmost effectiveness. Thus, it’s become the go-to practice for the majority of bodybuilders of old school and modern views.
These workouts are high-volume and somewhat isolated. Different workout days should target separate muscle groups and strain them to their max. The whole course takes 30 days. In the end, you’ll have incredible results and will buff up. If you are still doubtful, just take a look at Poliquin’s massive legs (that are the result of GVT, he claims) to see that it’s working.
GVT Set/Reps Guidelines
This plan is also called the 10 Sets Method, as it follows the main rule of 10×10 workout. It means that each exercise will have ten sets of 10 reps. According to the coach, if you cannot build muscle, you just lack a proper number of sets.
And don’t think that these workouts will be too easy. Just ten reps seem like a piece of cake, but the whole workout routine is gruesome and frighteningly hard. You are allowed to combine complementary muscle groups into one day. According to a few local bodybuilders’ personal recommendations, the best possible combination would be arms+shoulders, chest+back, and legs+abs.
Also, remember that rest is an essential part of this training. You are allowed a 60-90 seconds resting time between the sets – no more, no less.
Proper technique is crucial for this one. As you strain certain muscle groups to the max at a time, safety and injury prevention should be noted.
Are you up for the task? Despite the monstrous exertion, the final results are worth all the trouble.
Choosing Weight and Tempo
To follow the guidelines to the dot and challenge the muscle group effectively, the right weight and tempo are required. The golden standard for the proper GVT workout weight is 60% of your one-rep max, e.g., if you can lift 100 pounds in one go, the right weight for you would be 60 pounds. High-volume training is not about the weight but the reps. You may not increase your rep max at the end of the course, but the physique will be buffier anyway.
As for the tempo, old-school bodybuilders prefer the 4/0/2 tempo for squats, dips, and chin-ups. 4 seconds being for the weight lowering part, 0 seconds hold, and 2 seconds for the lift. For the rest of the exercises (targeted mainly on arms), the 3/0/2 tempo is used accordingly.
For beginner/intermediate levels, a 5-day German volume training plan with rounds of three workouts and two rest days are optimal.
Day 1 (Chest and back)
Most German volume training guides suggest doing exercises in supersets of two. Here are the most common superset suggestions.
Dumbbell bench press and chin-up (10×10, 90 seconds rest, 4/0/2)
How to do dumbbell bench press
Lie back on a flat bench, take a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them at shoulder level. Push the dumbbells over the chest and lower back down.
How to do chin-ups
Place your hands on a bar shoulder-width in a supinated grip (hands facing your body). Push your shoulder blades down. Once stabilized, pull your chest up and stabilize (ensure the chin is raised above the bar). Lower while maintaining control.
Incline dumbbell fly (3×10-12, 90 seconds rest, 3/0/2) and bent-over row (10×10, 90 seconds rest, 4/0/2)
How to do incline dumbbell fly
Set a bench at 45 degrees. Take a dumbbell in each hand and lie down. Place dumbbells on shoulder level, raise overhead and stabilize (palms must face each other.) Spear arms to the sides and lower to feel the stretch in your chest (bend elbows slightly.) Bring them back up high over the chest.
How to do bent-over row
Hold the weighted bar with a firm shoulder-width grip. Raise it a bit – bend the torso at 45 degrees angle and keep your knees bent. Pull the bar up, so it almost touches your sternum and lower back down.
Day 2 (Legs and Abs)
Barbell Squats and Leg Curl (10×10, 60 seconds rest, 4/0/2)
How to do barbell squats
Step under a barbell on a rack. Place your feet in the squat stance. Find a comfortable grip on the bar (about 7 inches from the sleeve base but may vary) and grip it tightly with your thumb underneath. Keep your elbows down and in. Step out from the rack. Push your hips back and squat. Return upwards.
How to do a leg curl
Set up the right weight on the leg curl machine. Lie down and place and place ankles under the pad. Curl legs up and lower back.
Bulgarian split squat (3×6-8, 60-90 seconds rest, 4/0/2) and plank (3×60 seconds)
How to do Bulgarian split squat
A Bulgarian squat requires precise technique. A detailed guide you may read in our article on lunges exercises that covers some alternative options for the leg day as well.
How to do a plank
From a pushup position, lower your forearms to the floor. Hold your body in a straight line.
Day 3 (Rest)
Enjoy the day!
Day 4 (arms and shoulders)
Hammer curl and cable tricep pushdown (10×10, 3/0/2, 60 seconds rest)
How to do hammer
Take a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body. Engage the core, keep elbows stationary, bend your elbows and raise dumbbells till they almost touch the shoulder. Lower to the initial position.
How to do cable tricep pushdown
On a cable machine, attach a V-bar. Stand with feet slightly apart, take the bar with an overhand grip. Tuck your elbows to the torso and push the bar down until the arm is almost fully extended. Return to the starting point. Remember to keep your back straight and don’t bend forward.
Lateral raise and seated barbell press (3×10-12, 60 seconds rest, 3/0/2)
How to do lateral raise
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, take a dumbbell in each hand. Raise straight arms to the sides to form a straight hand-to-hand line. Lower back down.
How to do seated barbell press
Sit on the bench. Grip the bar shoulder-wide with your wrists at the bottom (thumb in front).
Put the bar at the top of your chest; elbows tucked, head tilted backward. Raise straight up until the elbows lock(be mindful of your chin) and stabilize.
Day 5 (Rest)
Rest to keep those muscles growing!
From day 6 and on, repeat the workout schedule. You can replace certain exercises with similar ones that target the same muscle group. Follow this plan for 30 weeks to look like those spectacular Greek gods.