What is German Volume Training? How to use it for better muscle gains


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German Volume Training (GVT) got its name from a German weightlifting coach in the 70’s. The principles he brought are more than 40 years old yet they’re still effective to this day. GVT is a highly demanding form of training that makes even the easiest exercises seem like torture. However, the harder it is, the better the reward. Let the gains begin!

What is German Volume Training?

As mentioned earlier, it’s a demanding form of training based on a specific number of reps and sets for an exercise. It’s so demanding that you’re only allowed to use it for one exercise per muscle group. One exercise may seem too less for you, but we’ll come to that. It gets hard, but the end result is worth it.

The magic number GVT focuses on is the number 10. Both set and rep counts are 10 and the entire GVT program is built around this number.

How does it work?

You choose an exercise, let’s say the flat dumbbell chest press. Once you’ve chosen the exercise/muscle group you want to work, you perform 10 sets of 10 reps of that exercise. The start seems easy enough, but it gets tough. You’re supposed to choose a weight with which you can easily do 20 reps when you’re fresh. However, there’s a catch.

If you’re performing a big lift such as a squat, bench press, or deadlift, then you’re only allowed 60 seconds of rest in each set. If you’re alternating between two exercises, then you’re only allowed 90-120 seconds of rest. After each resting period, perform another set of 10 reps with the same weight and keep this up till your 10 sets are over.

Image: Youtube
Image: Youtube: ScotHermannFitness

At first, you may think it’s a piece of cake given you’re starting at a lower weight than you’re likely used to. If you can do 20 reps with some weight, then chances are it’ll feel light at first. However, due to the lack of rest time and the high number of sets, they’ll soon start to feel heavy again. You might even struggle to get 10 reps on your 7th set or even after a few sets in, that’s fine. It’s part of GVT to push you to the limit.

GVT is all about pushing your body and as soon as your nervous system starts to adapt to this new type of training, you might be able to perform more reps. Always keep the rep count to 10, not less, not more. If you can get through all 10 sets with all 10 reps, then come back next week with a heavier set of weights. The goal is to challenge yourself every week.

There’s more to it

GVT isn’t brutal just because of its lack of rest time. There are loads of workouts that reduce your resting times and make you work more. Instead, GVT also requires a specific tempo with which you perform each exercise. There are two types of tempos you follow. There’s the 4-0-2-0 tempo which means 4 seconds for the eccentric portion of the lift (when you’re coming down on a bench press), 0 seconds at the bottom, then 2 seconds for the upward or the concentric portion of the lift and then 0 seconds at the top.

Another tempo is the 3-0-2-0 tempo. This one is followed for exercises with a shorter range of motion as compared to others like squats, deadlifts etc. The 3-0-2-0 tempo can be used for exercises such as leg curls, cable rows etc.

With GVT, you need to do one exercise per body part with the given tempos and you can only do two exercises per workout with the GVT format. So you can hit two body parts with GVT per workout. Make sure to give your body ample time to rest, so only hit each body part once per week if you work out 5 days a week. Good luck!


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Olivia Parker

Parker holds a masters in computer science, but her love for movies and everything that goes into making them forced her to divert her strength to entertainment world. She has been interviewed a number of celebrities in her previous jobs.

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