Introducing ‘GVT’

There are many different training techniques used in Bodybuilding for increasing muscle mass, shredding body fat and busting through plateaus.

Supersets, drop sets, pyramid sets, negative reps, tri-sets and isometric holds are just a few of the many training methods at your disposal which can help you achieve your goals in the gym.

But which method is the Granddaddy of them all???

Gott im Himmel

Many experts and professionals would likely agree in unison that German Volume Training (GVT) fits the bill for anybody looking to take their routine to the next level.

Perhaps the most challenging and intense technique ever invented; as you may have guessed already, GVT originated in Germany and revolves around performing a high amount of repetitions for a high number of sets.

A man name Rolf Feser – who coached the German weightlifting squad back in the 1970’s – came up with the concept, which quickly became known as the ‘ten-set method’.

Canadian athlete Jacques Demers credited GVT as one of the main factors behind his weightlifting silver medal success at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles, as he became famed for his gargantuan quadriceps.

This particular system is so effective because of the immense stress put on your muscles over an extended period of time, forcing your body to adapt and shocking your muscles into significant growth.

Now I must stress that I am not recommending German Volume Training for beginners here, please note that this program is a very strenuous and advanced method which should not be attempted by anyone unfamiliar with proper technique and training principles.

That being said, all you will ever need to know about GVT is contained below and if you can follow the correct procedure when implementing it into your routine, you will quickly see impressive results.

General Guidelines

The premise of this technique is generally quite simple. Pick an exercise, perform the said exercise for 10 rep’s and then repeat the process over a duration of no less than 10 sets.

But of course, there is much more to it than that, seeing as the nature of this kind of physical exertion is so taxing on the body. Proper steps must be taken to ensure that you are maximising your workout and minimising any risk of injury or overtraining.

Stick to compounds – Exercises that recruit multiple muscle groups are best suited for GVT because – unlike a conventional training session consisting of several different exercises – you will only be performing 2 or 3 movements over the course of your workout. Therefore you will need to cause optimal damage to your muscle fibres using compound movements, rather than limiting yourself by only using isolation exercises.

For example:

YES to Deadlifts, Bench Press, Squats and Military Press.

NO to Bicep curls, Tricep pushdowns and leg extensions.

Weight selection – No human being is going to be able to lift at their maximum weight for such a high volume of sets. Usually, you might train using a weight at around 80% of your 1RM(1 rep max), aiming for between 5-8 repetitions. But please do not try to follow the same protocol for GVT.

You are not aiming for failure with each passing set using this particular technique, instead, you are aiming to sustain a consistent level of performance. This means selecting a manageable weight somewhere around 50-60% of your 1RM.

German volume training is a marathon, not a sprint and therefore you must prepare accodringly. The only time you will approach the point of complete failure should be towards the last 2 or 3 sets, otherwise, you have gone too heavy and risk causing yourself damage.

Choosing suitable rest intervals – The main thing to rememeber with rest periods is to be consistent. GVT will only be effective if you are following a strict format throughout, which means rough timings for breaks will not suffice.

Give yourself a breather of somewhere between 60-90 seconds between each set and stick to it. This will require discipline and willpower as you approach the back end of the workout, but to truly progress you must learn to bite the bullet and power through.

Example Workout

Below I will provide a 3-day training programme for you to follow which outlines the basic structure of a GVT session, for each muscle group. Remember to focus on a full range of motion on every single rep and pick a weight you are certain you can manage for 10 full sets.

Chest and Back day –

Incline Barbell Bench Press – 10 sets x 10 reps
T-Bar Row – 10 sets x 10 reps
Landmine Press – 4 sets x 10 reps
Reverse Lat Pulldown – 4 sets x 10 reps
Wide-grip Pushups – 3 sets x 10 reps

Legs and Biceps day –

Barbell Squats – 10 sets x 10 reps
Barbell Lunges – 10 sets x 10 reps
Calf Raises – 4 sets x 10 reps
Preacher Curl – 4 sets x 10 reps
Barbell Curls – 4 sets x 10 reps

Shoulders and Triceps –

Seated Dumbbell Press – 10 sets x 10 reps
Arnold Press – 10 sets x 10 reps
Lateral Raises – 4 sets x 10 reps
Skullcrushers – 4 sets x 10 reps
Weighted Dips – 4 sets x 10 reps

My advice would be not to use this program rigidly day in day out because your body is unlikely to recover effectively outside the gym. Ideally just implement GVT into your routine occasionally as a way to vary the stimulus and shock your body into change.


German Volume Training really is the most brutal but effective bodybuilding method out there and it can be a fantastic addition to any training regime.

If you can leave your ego at the door and focus on a higher number of reps for extended periods of time, plus trim your usual session down into a more minimalistic routine, you will be forcing your muscles into adaptation and growth.

Variety is the spice of life and in bodybuilding, it can mean the difference between making significant progress and failing to improve at a steady rate.

Research other methods to use alongside GVT and incorporate as many different ones as you can on a weekly basis, not only to avoid hitting the proverbial wall but also to keep motivation levels high regularly.

Attending the gym 6 times a week can be a chore if you elect to stand by the same dull, stale structure you’ve been following for months on end.

However, if you constantly change the dynamic of your workouts, you are far more likely to enjoy your time exercising which will almost certainly lead you towards the results you desire.

Exercise Disclaimer

You should be in good physical condition before undertaking a workout program, and we recommend you consult with a medical professional to ensure you are physically capable of this. This article (and indeed any online advice) should be used in conjunction with the advice and guidance of a qualified personal trainer.

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