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German Volume Training!

German Volume Training!

It's brutally hard, but I've found it to be an effective way to pack on muscle fast! In strength-coaching circles, this method is often called the Ten Sets Method.
In Germany, the ten-sets method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass.
"In Germany, the ten-sets method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass."

Supersets and trisets allow you to perform a lot of work in a short period of time. The rest-pause method allows you to use heavier weights, so you can recruit the higher threshold muscle fibers, and eccentric training enables you to overcome strength plateaus. The bottom line is that almost any training method will work—provided you do it with intensity—at least for the few weeks it takes for your body to adapt to it. There is, however, one training system that stands above all the rest. It's brutally hard, but I've found it to be a very effective way to pack on muscle fast!

In strength-coaching circles, this method is often called the Ten Sets Method. Because it has its roots in German-speaking countries, I like to call it German Volume Training. To the best of my knowledge, this training system originated in Germany in the mid-'70s and was popularized by Rolf Feser, who was then the National Coach of Weightlifting. A similar protocol was promoted by Vince Gironda in the U.S., but regardless of who actually invented it, it works.

In Germany, the Ten Sets Method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass. It was so efficient that lifters routinely moved up a full weight class within 12 weeks.

It was the base program of Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers, Silver Medallist in the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Jacques was known in weightlifting circles for his massive thighs, and he gives credit to the German method for achieving such a spectacular level of hypertrophy. The same method was also used by Bev Francis in her early days of bodybuilding to pack on muscle.

The program works because it targets a group of motor units, exposing them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts, specifically, 10 sets of a single exercise. The body adapts to the extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers. To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement. Gains of 10 pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters!

Goals & Guidelines

The goal of the German Volume Training method is to complete ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise. You want to begin with a weight you could lift for 20 reps to failure if you had to. For most people, on most exercises, that would represent 60% of their 1RM load. Therefore, if you can bench press 300 pounds for 1 rep, you would use 180 pounds for this exercise.

For lifters new to this method, I recommend using the following body-part splits:

Body-Part Splits
  • Day 1: Chest & Back
  • Day 2: Legs & Abs
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Arms & Shoulders
  • Day 5: Off

When using this program or any other, you should keep a detailed journal of the exact sets/reps and rest intervals performed, and only count the repetitions completed in strict form.

Terms You'll Need To Know

Rest Intervals: When bodybuilders start with this method, they often question its value for the first several sets because the weight won't feel heavy enough. However, there is minimal rest between sets (about 60 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a superset), which incurs cumulative fatigue. (Interestingly enough, you might find you get stronger again during the eighth and ninth sets. This is because of a short-term neural adaptation.) Because of the importance of the rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch to keep the rest intervals constant. This is important, as it becomes tempting to lengthen the rest time as you fatigue.

Tempo: For long-range movements such as squats, dips and chins, use a 4-0-2 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift for two seconds. For movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 3-0-2 tempo.

Number of Exercises: One, and only one, exercise per body part should be performed. Therefore, select exercises that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Triceps kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely out; squats and bench presses are definitely in. For supplementary work for individual body parts (like triceps and biceps), you can do 3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Training Frequency: Because this is such an intense program, it'll take you longer to recover. In fact, if you're familiar with the writings of Peter Sisco and John Little, you'll find that the average "Power Factor Rating" of the 10-sets method is about 8 billion. Consequently, one training session every four to five days per body part is plenty.

Overload Mechanism: Once you're able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by 4-to-5%, and repeat the process. Refrain from using forced reps, negatives or burns. The volume of the work will take care of the hypertrophy. Expect to have some deep muscle soreness without having to resort to set prolonging techniques. In fact, after doing a quad and hams session with this method, it takes the average bodybuilder about five days to stop limping.

Beginner/Intermediate Program: Phase 1

This is a sample routine based on a 5-day cycle. Once you've used this method for six workouts per body part, it's time to move on to a more intensive program for a 3-week period.

Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell Flyes
Day 1: Chest and Back
Semi-Supinated Grip (palms facing each other)
  • Gorilla Chin/Crunch Gorilla Chin/Crunch A-2 Chin-Ups
    10 Sets, 10 Reps, 4 0 2 0 Tempo, 90 sec Rest Interval
Palms facing you
Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset. Incidentally, I only recommend three sets of ten in this program for the "B" exercises. The "B" exercises constitute supplementary work, and doing ten sets of them would result in overtraining.
Day 2: Legs and Abs
Or Low-Cable Pull-Ins*. (*Low-Cable Pull-Ins: Take a weightlifting belt and buckle it. Attach it to the low pulley of a cable crossover machine. Lie down on your back in front of the machine, and hook your feet in the belt. Then pull your knees toward your chest.)
Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset.
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
Another Variation: Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises: While seated on the edge of a bench with your torso bent over, raise the dumbbells out to the side, making sure the top two knuckles (the ones closest to your thumb) are in line with your ears at the top of the movement.
Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset. "X" in the tempo means to move as fast as possible, keeping the weight under control.
Day 5: Off

Beginner/Intermediate Program: Phase 2

After six of those 5-day cycles, I recommend you do a 3-week phase where the average set is 6-to-8 reps, and do only 4-to-6 sets per body part over a 5-day cycle, or you can do any other split that suits your recovery pattern. After this 3-week block, you can return to the German Volume Training method by doing the following ten sets of six reps routine. In the exercises that are prescribed for 10 sets, use a load you'd normally be able to do 12 repetitions with. The goal in this phase is to do ten sets of six with that load.

For long-range movements such as squats, dips and chins, use a 4-0-2 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift for two seconds.
"For long-range movements such as squats, dips and chins, use a 4-0-2 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift for two seconds."

SAMPLE 10 sets of 6 routine:

Day 1: Chest and Back
Palms facing away from you.
Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset.
Day 2: Legs and Abs
Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset.
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
Another Variation--Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises: While seated on the edge of a bench with your torso bent over, raise the dumbbells out to the side, making sure the top two knuckles (the ones closest to your thumb) are in line with your ears at the top of the movement.
Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each "A" exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each "B" exercise and each superset. "X" in the tempo means to move as fast as possible, keeping the weight under control.
Day 5: Off

German Volume Training For The Advanced Trainee

For the advanced trainee, variety in training is even more important to elicit adaptation. With the advanced trainee, I use a system called the four percent method. That is, I increase the load 4-to-5 percent every workout for two workouts in a row, and I reduce the target rep by one rep for every weight increase. Then I reduce the weight 4-to-5 percent and increase the rep bracket to its original starting point. Since this is mathematical, let's look at an example that will clearly illustrate this point.

Let's say you can barbell curl 100 pounds for 12 strict reps, and you haven't been able to increase the amount of reps or weight on this exercise. Here's a sample routine that would increase your curling strength:

For the advanced trainee, variety in training is even more important to elicit adaptation.
"For the advanced trainee, variety in training is even more important to elicit adaptation."
Sample Barbell Curl Routine
Workout 1: 10 sets of 6 @ 110 lbs
Workout 2: 10 sets of 5 @ 115 lbs
Workout 3: 10 sets of 4 @ 120 lbs
Workout 4: 10 sets of 6 @ 115 lbs
Workout 5: 10 sets of 5 @ 120 lbs
Workout 6: 10 sets of 4 @ 125 lbs
Workout 7: Test day. At this point, you would curl 120 for 12 reps, a 9% gain over 6 workouts!

Here's an example of the German Volume Training method with the 4% to 5% method for someone who can bench press 300 pounds 10 times in strict form.

Sample Bench Press Routine
Workout 1: 10 sets of 5 @ 300 lbs
Workout 2: 10 sets of 4 @ 315 lbs
Workout 3: 10 sets of 3 @ 330 lbs
Workout 4: 10 sets of 5 @ 315 lbs
Workout 5: 10 sets of 4 @ 330 lbs
Workout 6: 10 sets of 3 @ 345 lbs
Workout 7: Test day. At this point, you would bench press 330 lbs for 10 reps.

Conclusion

To recap, perform the Beginner/Intermediate Phase 1 program for six weeks (six 5-day cycles). Then, progress to the Beginner/Intermediate Phase 2 program for three weeks. After that, you'll be ready to graduate to the Advanced program.

This program is elegant in its simplicity, but that's what the Germans do best. Just ask any Mercedes Benz or BMW owner.

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AST88

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AST88

this definitely works!

Mar 29, 2012 3:44am | report
 
ShaniDaniel

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ShaniDaniel

I dident realy get how the rest and super set thing work what do I superset with what and how much rest i take between super sets

Apr 14, 2012 1:59pm | report
 
Newton87

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Newton87

A super set is two exercises combined in one set with minimum/none rest. Then take a 90-120 sec. rest. As far as how much weight to use check out overload mechanism under "things you'll need to know."

May 13, 2012 4:53pm | report
Omar-Joseph

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Omar-Joseph

please provide a printing option,
thanks.

Apr 16, 2012 1:09am | report
 
pinktigermouse

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pinktigermouse

go to top, there should be a button that says "more" and click it. it should give u printing option

Dec 14, 2012 4:05am | report
D3ATH2TS

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D3ATH2TS

Confused on the A and B sets. Do you do an A set then a B set until all sets are done? Or Do you do all the A sets then the B sets? All replies are much appreciated.

Apr 16, 2012 11:54am | report
 
Newton87

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Newton87

The A is a group. So A1 and A2 should be performed back to back as a super set. once the number of reps and sets a performed, move to group B.

May 13, 2012 4:55pm | report
ryguy557

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ryguy557

Been doing GVT for almost 2 1/2 months now and absolutely love it! I've gained about an inch in my arms (Also been eating like a horse)...Definitely follow like it says, even if you are extremely strong, do the beginner workout first, just with higher weight.

Apr 24, 2012 8:00pm | report
 
Bogatyri

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Bogatyri

just wondering if after your rest day on Day 5, do you immediately start with Day 1routine or do you rest the remaining 2 days of the week and start off with chest and back then?

May 16, 2012 6:13pm | report
 
DevilWillCry

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DevilWillCry

it says:
"To recap, perform the Beginner/Intermediate Phase 1 program for six weeks (six 5-day cycles). Then, progress to the Beginner/Intermediate Phase 2 program for three weeks. After that, you'll be ready to graduate to the Advanced program."

So im supposing you get to rest the two extra days.
5 workouts per week.

Jul 26, 2012 3:40pm | report
Randy95

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Randy95

Your doing 6 5-day splits and you can do it either way depending on how you feel, how much rest you need. If your body is recovering fast enough to do 5 days then repeat without taking the 2 days off then I would suggest not taking those days off and just repeating. But if you feel like that is to much than take an extra day or two.

Jan 5, 2013 3:12pm | report
Tchabtcha

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Tchabtcha

too much to handle to much numbers

May 21, 2012 1:41pm | report
 
irontiger007

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irontiger007

My wrestling coach Dimo Kostov (bronze medal 1976 olympics 90 kgs freestyle wrestling for Bulgaria) taught me this routine back in 1997. Didn't try it out until 2003 (procastination?). I did it for about 10 months 3 days a week, just 3 excercises, 1 minute rest between sets, 5 minute rest between exercises (Bench Press, Squat, Power Cleans) My max loads at the beginning of the program were 215 lbs for Bench Press, 315 lbs for Squat, 135 lbs for Power Cleans. After 10 months my max loads were 345 lbs for Bench Press, 510 lbs for Squat, 225 lbs for Power Clean. This training routine really works, nevertheless it is really hard, YOU MUST sleep at least 8 hrs a day, and YOU MUST consume the necessary calories (2800 in my case) without skipping meals during the day, or this workout will knock you out of circulation for at least 4 days.

May 27, 2012 10:14pm | report
 
qballjr13

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qballjr13

How did you figure out your caloric intake for building?

Jul 26, 2012 1:26pm | report
azHunterX

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azHunterX

Is it possible to do a Push/Pull/Leg split instead of the traditional Chest

Jun 2, 2012 6:50am | report
 
DevilWillCry

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DevilWillCry

whats the average time this workout should take?

Jul 26, 2012 12:48pm | report
 
Randy95

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Randy95

In my experience, an hour and fifteen max if all lifts are done separately and no supersets performed.

Jan 5, 2013 3:13pm | report
DevilWillCry

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DevilWillCry

What if im not strong enough to do the chin ups?

Jul 26, 2012 3:28pm | report
 
Mattk77

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Mattk77

Then do lat pulldowns with the same tempo

Aug 2, 2012 1:58pm | report
M3T4LLIC4

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M3T4LLIC4

assisted chin ups?

Dec 8, 2012 10:06pm | report
Sesshomaru87

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Sesshomaru87

Negatives till you are able to do one

Dec 28, 2012 11:11pm | report
thomatt

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thomatt

Ok, so I'm on week two of this program and I'm having amazing workouts and I can definitely tell that my body is definitely being worked, but I'm not sore the next day like I was in week one. Like I'll be shaking and stuff directly after my workout, but I'm experiencing very little soreness the next day. Is this normal, or am I doing something wrong? Any advice or suggestions would really be appreciated.

Aug 13, 2012 9:17pm | report
 
oldschool5919

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oldschool5919

Keep doing what yo u're doing thats normal.

Aug 27, 2012 2:23pm | report
oldschool5919

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oldschool5919

German volume trng. is a very effective program .

Aug 27, 2012 2:30pm | report
 
pineapple146

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pineapple146

Hey guys, I'm a little confused. Do I do the A1 workout, the A2 workout, and THEN take a 90 second rest? Or do I do A1, rest, A2, rest, A1, rest, etc.? Thanks in advance!

Sep 9, 2012 3:01pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 64 Comments

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