by David Sautter
Also known as the 10 x 10 System, German Volume Training was made popular in the 1970s. While the true creator of G.V.T. remains unknown, it’s common knowledge that bodybuilder Rolf Feser was the reason for the system’s rise in popularity. For the hard gainers, this system can be a saving grace. When paired with a proper diet, it isn’t uncommon to gain between 10 to 15 pounds of muscle within 4 to 6 weeks. Let’s take a look at the foundation and breakdown of German Volume Training, including common muscle pairings and sample workouts.
On paper, G.V.T. seems pretty simple.
- One exercise per body part
- Ten sets
- Each set contains ten reps
- All sets are done at 60% of your one rep max
- Resting periods between sets: 60 – 90 seconds
You’ll be quick to find upon trying out the system that it is anything but simple. It’s downright brutal. Sure, you’ll be flying high for the first three or four sets, but without fail, your ego will be put in check. When you are completing 100 reps per body part (Go ahead. Do the math.) there’s no reason to get hung up on the fact that you’re only using 60% of the 1RM. If it was good enough for Feser, then it’s good enough for you.
Here are two examples of muscle pairing that you could split your workout into. The first is very common. The second may seem strange but the truth is you’re activating each muscle group twice in one week. If you’re a beginner, I would stick with the 3 day split for at least 4 weeks before trying the 5 day split.
Monday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Wednesday: Quads, Hams, Calves
Friday: Back, Traps, Biceps
Monday: Chest, Shoulders
Tuesday: Quads, Abs
Wednesday Back, Triceps
Thursday: Hams, Abs
Friday: Traps, Biceps
To help cement all of the information above, I’ll provide you with a sample workout based on the 3 day split. Be sure to warm up and stretch before the workout and cool down and stretch following the workout.
Chest: Dumbbell Chest Press (10 set x 10 reps)
Shoulders: Lateral Raises (10 x 10)
Triceps: Triceps Extensions (10 x 10)
Quads: Box Squats (10 x 10)
Hams: Lunges (10 x 10)
Calves: Calf Press (On leg press machine) (10 x 10)
Back: Lat Pulldown (10 x 10)
Traps: Shrugs (10 x 10)
Biceps: Cable Curls (10 x 10)
There you have it, everything you need to begin packing on a few pounds of lean muscle mass. A few tips to live by:
Extremely important. If you’ve never done G.V.T. before, there’s one lesson that you are going to learn quickly: Soreness. The muscle hypertrophy from this workout is unavoidable. As I said above, you’re doing 100 reps per body part. This isn’t your common 3 sets of 10-12 reps of a weight that barely pushes you outside of your comfort zone.
You are what you eat. It’s tired and cliche but it’s absolutely true. Chicken breasts and salmon should come before cheeseburgers and pizza. Fruits and vegetables should be eaten raw. (You’re a man. You don’t need mommy to pretend that piece of broccoli is an airplane anymore.) Clean protein supplements need to be in your kitchen. You’re gonna need those internal construction workers called amino acids.
This should be a no-brainer but sometimes we need to be reminded. To get results, you need to stick to the workout. No making excuses about how you walked 2,000 steps today. Great job. Now get in the gym. Be faithful to the workout and it will be faithful to you.
This is the traditional version of the tried and true system. Like most things, yeah, it’s going to get boring. Check out my article “Reinventing German Volume Training” for new ways to make your workout exciting again including super sets, new muscle pairings, and training tips.