What is German Volume Training?

Good afternoon, Fit City Family,

Let’s talk muscle building. Sometimes we just want to grow some good, old-fashion, rock-solid muscle. There are lots of different techniques that we apply to reach this goal, but the one I want to talk about today is known as GVT, or German Volume Training.

First, a little definition: volume.

In the fitness and lifting world, volume is repetitions X sets X weight, or total repetitions X weight.  Some calculations of volume also take total time into account, but let's leave that out for now for simplicity. For example, if you bench press 120lbs eight times for four sets, that would be 8 X 4 X 120, your volume for that exercise would be 3,840. In other words, you lifted a total of 3,840lbs.

So, the purpose of German Volume Training is to maximize the volume for a given exercise in a minimal amount of time.

The is accomplished by planning four variables ahead of time: sets, reps, weight, and rest.

The most common form of German Volume Training involves 10 sets of 10 reps. This is not necessarily set in stone, but this has been proven time and time again to be a highly effective protocol for gaining muscle mass, so let’s stick with this example for now.

For weight, you want to stick with the same weight throughout the entire process. You want the chosen weight to be something that you could lift 12-15 times before hitting failure. As for rest, it will be exactly 60 seconds. No more! Remember, we want to maximize volume and minimize total time. A minute is just about a perfect amount of time to let your muscles recover enough to hit the next set.

As you progress into the later sets, you might notice that you aren’t able to get 10 reps. Maybe you only get seven reps on set six. You’ll be tempted to drop the weight to keep getting 10 reps per set. Don’t! Keep that same weight, even if it means you’re getting fewer than 10 reps a set.

So, what is the result of all of this?

Let’s say you did GVT with a 120lbs bench press, like above, and your sets looked like this:

Set 1: 10

Set 2: 10

Set 3: 10

Set 4: 10

Set 5: 9

Set 6: 7

Set 7: 7

Set 8: 8 (It is not uncommon to get a little “bounce” in sets 8 or 9 where you do better than the previous set)

Set 9: 7

Set 10: 6

Your total reps here is 83. 83 X 120 = 9,960.

With a minute of rest between sets and assuming each set took you 30 seconds, that’s a total of 15 minutes. So, over 15 minutes, you lifted 9,960lbs! That’s a heck of a lot more volume than that typical 4 sets of 8 reps we started with above.

The last issue here is what exercises can this be applied to? Pretty much anything! Obviously more complex movements, like the squat, bench press, shoulder press, row, etc. will give you more bang for your buck, but this technique can be applied to calf raises, curls, pretty much anything you can imagine.

Give it a shot and let us know what you think

As always, keep pushing hard and let us know if there is anything we can do to help your journey.