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How To Transform Your Physique With German Volume Training!

German Volume Training (GVT) is a system that has been used by powerlifters, bodybuilders and Olympic lifters to break plateaus and gain mass.

German Volume Training or simply known as GVT in most weight training circles is a training system that has been used by powerlifters, bodybuilders and Olympic lifters from all walks of life to reach new training goals, pack on muscle, break plateaus, or simply challenge themselves to see if they can do it.

Regardless of the goal that the lifter has in mind, GVT has been and continues to be proven successful even today. Anyone that wants to be successful in the world of weightlifting, whether it is powerlifting, Olympic or bodybuilding, needs to be aware and learn of this training technique.

What Is GVT & Where Did It Come From?

GVT came into prominence in 1996 by Charles Poliquin in the now defunct "Muscle Media 2000" magazine. Its origins date back earlier than that though. Versions of this have been used as far back as the 1940's. GVT or 10 sets of 10 is basically 10 sets of a compound lift where you shoot for doing 10 repetitions each set or 100 reps total.

You also want to use the same weight for each set. If you get to where you can do all 10 sets of 10 with the same weight, you move up in weight. You are only to do this with one exercise, and it should be a compound exercise, such as bench press, squat, barbell row, or overhead press.

Let's say you want to get your squat up. You determine a weight that you can do for 20 reps. You can also figure out 60% of your squat one rep max. You load the weight on the bar and do your first set of 10 reps.

Calculate Your One-Rep Max (1RM)

Weight Lifted
Reps Done

= One-Rep Max

  95% 1 RM
  90% 1 RM
  85% 1 RM
  80% 1 RM
  75% 1 RM
  70% 1 RM
  65% 1 RM
  60% 1 RM
  55% 1 RM
  50% 1 RM

You rest anywhere from 60-90 seconds and then do a second set. You rest and do a third and so on until either you get to where you can't do 10 reps anymore or you get all 10 reps on each of the 10 sets. If you do that, you add weight and do it again next time. If not, complete the 10 sets to failure and try again with the same weight next time.

Let's look at this in a training log. This lifter can do 185 pounds on squat for 20 repetitions. Therefore, he will use 185 pounds on all 10 sets.

Barbell Squat

  • Set 1: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 2: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 3: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 4: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 5: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 6: 185 for 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 7: 185 for 9 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 8: 185 for 9 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 9: 185 for 7 reps. Rest 90 seconds.
  • Set 10: 185 for 6 reps. Rest 90 seconds.

OK, he didn't get all 10 sets for 10 reps. So next time, he would do this, which should be no less than 5 days from today, with 185 pounds again. Had he succeeded, he would go up to 190 pounds.

How Can I Do A Program Like This & For How Long?

You would take a compound lift for the muscle group that day and make that your GVT exercise. Let's take Day 1. Chest and Back. For chest, flat barbell bench press is a great one.

For back, bent over barbell row is excellent. After your rows, you can pick an isolation exercise for chest and do 3 sets of 10 reps. Then you do the same for back. Let's look at a typical training week in a log.

Day 1: Chest And Back
Day 2: Legs And Abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Arms And Shoulders
Day 5: Off

This routine would last about six weeks.

What Do I Do After This Is Over?

After six weeks, you would lower the intensity a little bit. You pick different exercises and do 10 sets of 6 reps. Here is how that would look.

Day 1: Chest And Back
Day 2: Legs And Abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Arms And Shoulders
Day 5: Off

You would do this for about three weeks and then move on to another GVT cycle or should you do another program, you can after this.

GVT For The Advanced Lifter

This system is called the four percent method. You increase the load 4-to-5 percent every workout for two workouts in a row, and you reduce the target rep by one rep for every weight increase.

Then you reduce the weight four to five 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:

  • Workout 1: 10 sets of 6 reps at 110 lbs
  • Workout 2: 10 sets of 5 reps at 115 lbs
  • Workout 3: 10 sets of 4 reps at 120 lbs
  • Workout 4: 10 sets of 6 reps at 115 lbs
  • Workout 5: 10 sets of 5 reps at 120 lbs
  • Workout 6: 10 sets of 4 reps at 125 lbs
  • Workout 7: Test Day

Workout 7 is test day. By this point, you should be able to curl 120 pounds for 12 strict reps. Over a course of six workouts, you gained almost 10% strength on your curl. Of course, this can also be used on bench press, squat or any other compound lift you have in mind.

Clarifying one last time, do the beginning programs for six weeks, lower the intensity for three weeks, then if you want to push yourself to the limit, give the Advanced GVT program a shot.


This is a hard routine, especially if you are not used to doing so much volume in your normal workouts. Therefore, make sure you are eating plenty of protein, taking in good, healthy carbs, drinking no less than a gallon of water a day and taking a quality multivitamin.

If you need that plateau busted, or you must break through that glass ceiling and ascend to new levels of strength that you never fathomed you could reach, give German Volume Training a try and see if this doesn't do the trick for you. Mr. Poliquin certainly helped many lifters with this program and I am sure you will find success too.