Everyone at some point in his or her lifting career hits what seems to be an unbreakable plateau. Stuck at the same weight on the bench press or they can’t put anymore size on and think of themselves as “hard gainers”. They’ve tried everything and then settle for what they consider as their genetic potential.
If you fall into one of these two categories or you want to try something new to challenge yourself, I introduce to you…. German Volume Training (GVT). I found out about GVT a couple of years ago when I was trying to switch things up in the gym and I used it last year when recovering after back surgery. Not only did I gain my strength back and then some, but also I did it without getting hurt again. That is a win-win in my book.
Like a Mercedes Benz or BMW, the elegance of GVT is in the simplicity. GVT is best used for the compound movements (squat, bench, overhead press and barbell row) for 10 sets for either 10 reps or you can do a 4-6-rep range with a 60-90sec rest period between sets. I have only tried these two rep ranges and I’m sure there are a few other rep variations that I’m missing. I’ll leave that to you to experiment with.
Using 10×10 is more for gaining size and 4-6 adds a little more in the strength category. Both rep ranges add size and strength but each rep range favors one more than the other. A good starting point for the weight is to use a weight you can lift for double the amount of reps you are doing. So if you decide that you want to do a 10×10, you would use a weight that you can lift for 20 reps. Likewise, a 10-rep max for the 4-6 range. Remember we are going for volume and not ego. This is how I was able to come back so quickly from injury. Lighter weights for a ton of reps, which equals gainz. And we are all about them gainz…. bro.
First off, when trying to program using GVT you absolutely have to take into account the volume you are using. Most workouts consist of 20-30 reps total spread out over a couple of different exercises. With GVT you are doing 100 reps (assuming 10×10) with one exercise. Too much volume and you run the risk of repetitive use injuries that could derail you for a couple of weeks if not longer.
So let’s say you are trying to increase your bench press, cause honestly girls dig how much weight you can bench (total sarcasm). You’ve been stuck only being able to lift 185 lbs. for 10 reps for what seems like an eternity. Well rest easy; here is what your GVT program would look like on chest day:
Set 1: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 2: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 3: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 4: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 5: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 6: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 7: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 8: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 9: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 10: 5 x 185lbs.
Set 1: 3×12
Set 2: 3×12
Set 3: 3×12
Slip in some cardio at the end and that concludes chest day. See simplicity at it’s finest. For a workout that is trying to increase your squat throw in a calf exercise at the end. Run this program for a month and watch the numbers go up.
Now if you can’t complete every set to the prescribed rep ranges it is OK. Complete as many reps as you can and move onto the next set. Move up in weight only after you can complete all lifts in every set. Then move up 5 lbs. at the next workout. Usually I would suggest 10 lbs. for compound movements but there is too much volume to go up that much.
On paper is seems easy, but that is on paper. If “on paper” meant anything the Detroit Loins would have been relevant in the last 10 years.
For the advanced lifters, there are a couple of variations you can throw in which I found to increase my production.
First we can alter the time under tension. By extending the time you are lifting the weight you are also increasing the amount of muscle recruitment. So to not burn yourself out, use a 2-0-2 tempo. Two second to full contraction, switch the momentum and two seconds to full extension. Most of the strength gained is on the eccentric portion of the movement so you want to exaggerate that slightly.
Next is the Power of 5. Using the 4-6-rep range, increase the weight by 5 pounds and remove a rep each workout. Do this for 3 weeks and then go back to the 2nd week weight for the first week reps. Clear as mud? Here is a example using the bench press situation from above:
Week 1: 10×6 @ 185lbs.
Week 2: 10×5 @ 190lbs.
Week 3: 10×4 @ 195lbs.
Week 4: 10×6 @ 190lbs.
Week 5: 10×5 @ 195lbs.
Week 6: 10×4 @ 200lbs.
By the 7th week your bench should go up from 185 lbs. for 10 to 195 lbs. for 10.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. GVT is great for hitting that next level of size and strength.