I learned about German Volume Training (GVT) from top strength coach Charles Poliquin several years ago. Coach Poliquin stated that many German athletes used the GVT protocol to successfully add ten pounds of muscle. Here is how it works.
Take 60% off your one rep max on an exercise and do ten sets of ten reps. Use the same weight on all ten sets and do not increase the weight until you can do ten sets of ten with the same weight. This program is of course effective, but extremely brutal.
Ten sets of ten on exercises such as squats and deadlifts are real pukers and a great way to handicap you for the rest of the week. I remember the pain of getting up in the morning the day after doing GVT for legs.
Another drawback with GVT is that while following a 10x10 protocol will increase muscle size, it does not increase brute strength. In fact many trainees reported that they actually got weaker after six weeks of GVT. Hardly the results that we are after. Thus, I think that changing GVT from 10x10 to a starting program of 10x5 is more appropriate.
Now since we cannot increase the weights incrementally with kettlebells, lets work on other factors. First, start with 10x5 and when you can complete 10x5, go up to 10x6. When you can complete 10x6, go up to 10x7.
Once you can do 10x8, move up to heavier kettlebells or pick harder kettlebell drills and start back at 10x5. You can even start at 10x2 or 10x3 to get started and gradually work up to 10x5 and above. Use the same kettlebells for all ten sets rather than doing the some sets with heavier bells and some sets with lighter bells.
One final modification that you can do with GVT is to pick two exercises instead of one. For example, do double lunges for 5 sets of 5 and then double front squats for 5 sets of 5 right after. The total volume will still be 10 sets. This is a great way to get around possible overuse injuries and the sheer boredom that can come with doing ten sets of the same drill over and over again.
Sample GVT/Kettlebell Programs
Here are two sample GVT/Kettlebell Programs:
- A-1: Double Front Squat: 10x5
- B-2: Double Swing: 10x5
- Double Windmill: 3x5 (left and right)
- A-1: Double Military Press: 10x5
- A-2: Renegade Row: 10x5
- TGU: 3x5 (left and right)
- A-1: Double Lunge: 5x5 / Double Front Squat: 5x5
- A-2: Double Snatch: 5x5 / Double Swing: 5x5
- Sit-up: 2x5 (left and right)
- A-1: Seated Military Press: 5x5 / Standing Military Press: 5x5
- A-2: Renegade Row: 5x5 / Double Bent-over Row: 5x5
- Double Windmill: 5x5 (left and right)
Both options will work well. If you are someone that needs more variety in your workouts, then try option two first. If you really want to improve an exercise such as the Double Military Press, then try option one. Take a day off between each workout. In other words, do day 1 on Monday, day 2 on Wednesday and then Day 1 again Friday.