GERMAN VOLUME TRAINING: The facts, the myths and some of my personal insight.
GVT also known as the 10 10 method, is in my opinion, one of the most unequivocal and effective methods to slabbing on significant muscle size (hypertrophy) in a short given, and incremented, amount of time. I have personally used it and still use it to great success and have used it repeatedly in my personal clients and athletes routines. The sets, reps and rest intervals tie hand in hand with the tried and tested hypertrophy brackets in bodybuilding, coupled with the fact that the routines are founded on the main quintessential compound free weight lifts and incremental loading on a weekly basis makes this a sure-fire way to gain muscle, and gain muscle quickly! In my opinion GVT training is brutal when performed CORRECTLY and periodised effectively, however, irrespective of the severity of the intensity of some of these workouts, many lifters fail with this technique simply due to the fact that they either add further exercises to the workout, due to the low volume of the entire training period, and incorporate their own “bro science” following the routine which actually interferes with the methodology and efficiency all together of GVT. Stick to the basics!
What is GVT?
GVT training, apparently developed in the 70’s by the national weight lifting coach Rolf Feser of Germany was developed (now take this in) to take a respective weightlifter into a higher weight category in the smallest amount of time possible, without increasing adipose tissue and compromising the lifters strength, obviously, as they’re weightlifters. Charles Poloquinn, a revered strength training author and international coach popularised this technique thereafter and from there it grew. In a nutshell the training routine is compromised of one compound exercise being performed for 10 sets of 10 repetitions with an allotted rest interval, depending on the given load for that training session. The efficiency of this workout stems from several variables.
10 reps and 10 sets fits right into the tried, tested, continually reevaluated and continually reaffirmed hypertrophy rep and set range. We’re all taught the best rep range to stimulate muscular hypertrophy or growth are 8, 10, and 12 reps right? Furthermore, the ideal set range is in between 10 and 16 sets per muscle group, generally speaking right? 10 10 fires right into that bracket and stimulates the greatest amount of Type 2 muscle fibres, which for all intents and purposes are the most important and greatly stimulated muscle fibres from a lean mass gaining, or bodybuilding perspective.
Compound lifts. We’ve heard it over and over and over again, yet you still see 3 or more cable crossover machines in a new gym nowadays than a squat wrack. Sad. Arnie did it, Yates did it and King Coleman’s immortal words still ring true, “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder but aint nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weights!”. Compound, heavy, free weight exercises are the king for slabbing on tissue. Period. They stimulate the greatest amount of muscle fibre, they recruit secondary and stabiliser muscles throughout the lift, they are greater primers for central nervous system stimulation than isolation movements, one burns more calories doing compound lifts than isolation lifts and last but not least, the hormonal stimulation following heavy compound lifts coupled with more anabolic receptor site stimulation in muscle tissue is huge. Enough reason?
Incremental load, periodisation and evaluation. By employing the below techniques correctly it is very easy to monitor one’s progress as opposed to the proverbial thumb suck most of us lifters and “bro-science” advocators employ when we go to the gym. Every week we manipulate load and rest intervals accordingly to progress and allow for greater mitochondrial capacity coupled with both sarcoplasmic and myofibriller hypertrophy to occur in the given muscle tissue. Ever heard the saying ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’? Incorporating a finite plan every week helps keep one motivated, goal oriented and on track with their progress.
How does it work?
There are hundreds of articles and publications circulating the web on various GVT training methodology and technique. Each to their own. I am not lambasting them, claiming my understanding and methodology concerning GVT is different, special or better, all I’m stating is that this is what works for me and my clients.
Given the training split on the day, one must select a compound free weight exercise. The following exercises are the “big 5” in my opinion, and should be incorporated every single week if you can: Deadlift, Squat, Bench press, Military press and Pullups. Those are the kings. For arms, barbell olympic bar curls, skull crushers, close grip bench and dips. Nothing is really set in stone, but use your intuition when selecting the movement. The bottom line is that it must be a compound lift, preferably with a barbell.
As with all hypertrophy methodology one must select a weight that fits into the category of the 65-75% of their 1RM (one rep max). What does this mean? Well without going into detail, an easy way to select the right weight is to chose a weight off the cuff that one can comfortably rep 15 unassisted full ROM (range of motion) receptions with and use this as a base. The most important and overlooked aspect of this program is that one MUST NEVER reach failure, forced reppage or require assistance to complete any of the 10 given sets. So to be safe, rather select a weight that may perhaps be “too light” than “too heavy” as one can still incrementally increase the load every week, staying on the same weight for the following week or worse, dropping the weight, will disrupt the incremental loading of the program
Time your rest intervals. You should start on no more than a 1minute rest interval in between sets. Each and every week thereafter you will increase your rest interval by 15 seconds and your load by 5kg (no more and no less). Each and every week your rest interval will get longer as you pile more and more weight onto the bar. After 4 weeks, when you have moved onto a 2 minute rest interval and provided there have been no hiccups with your training you should then move back to the 1 minute rest interval, with the only difference being that you are increasing the weight you originally used at the 1 minute rest increment at the start of this routine by 5kg. From here you will continue as before for another 4 weeks, thus ending at the 2 minute rest interval mark with a weight that is 5kg heavier than the previous time you hit the 2 minute rest interval mark. Getting it? You will continue this program for a total of 17 weeks (perfect for a hulking cycle) and the end goal in this program is to get to a weight we can move for 10 sets of 10 reps, with a 1 minute interval that previously we could only perform if we had 2 minutes or double the amount of rest? Whats happened here? Your muscles would have had to increase their mitochondrial and myofibriller capacity significantly to cope with the increased load and stress, therefore it has grown considerably in this 16 week process. Lets use the following bench press as a guideline:
Week 1: 10 sets 10 reps 100kg bench press- 1 minute rest
Week 2: 10 sets 10 reps 105kg bench press- 1.15 minute rest
Week 3: 10 sets 10 reps 110kg bench press- 1.30 minute rest
Week 4: 10 sets 10 reps 115kg bench press- 1:45 minute rest
Week 6: 10 sets 10 reps 120kg bench press- 2 minute rest
Week 7: 10 sets 10 reps 105kg bench press- 1 minute rest
Week 8: 10 sets 10 reps 110kg bench press- 1.15 minute rest
Week 9: 10 sets 10 reps 115kg bench press- 1.30 minute rest
Week 10: 10 sets 10 reps 120kg bench press- 1:45 minute rest
Week 11: 10 sets 10 reps 125kg bench press- 2 minute rest
Week 12: 10 sets 10 reps 110kg bench press- 1 minute rest
Week 13: 10 sets 10 reps 115kg bench press- 1:15 minute rest
Week 14: 10 sets 10 reps 120kg bench press- 1:30 minute rest
Week 15: 10 sets 10 reps 125kg bench press- 1:45 minute rest
Week 16: 10 sets 10 reps 130kg bench press- 2 minute rest
Week 17: 10 sets 10 reps 120kg bench press- 1 minute rest
4. Do not perform anything else for that respective muscle group after your GVT workout!!! Thats it! The End! Do not be tempted to do any more sculpting or isolating movements thereafter they are unnecessary and will simply over tax and over train the muscle concerned and undo all of your hard work subsequent to that point. The success of this workout is also due to the continual overload being placed on the respective motor units responsible for firing in the muscle tissue that are best stimulated in that 10 rep, 10 set and rest interval range. Doing any more movements thereafter with differing rep, set and rest schemes will, without going into semantics, be counter intuitive. So don’t. Tick that week’s box off and go home. Baby steps.
GVT works, its been around forever. To reiterate some key elements and guidelines, I must reaffirm that you must not push to failure, you should just be able to complete the last rep and set unassisted, cleanly and with irrefutable form. Do only 1 movement per muscle group, any more will be redundant and worse, counter productive! If you fail to complete a workout when increasing a load and the accompanying rest interval in a given week, you have chosen your weights incorrectly, so remember to rather go too light than too heavy. If you do hit a platuea during this routine, then stick on that load and that rest interval segment for a further week or two until you can complete it perfectly, and then move on from there the following week.
Yours in Iron