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German Volume Training

German Volume Training for Shocking Muscle Growth

Average: 4.2 (98 votes)
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German Volume Training isn't for the faint of heart. Be prepared to train intense and hard. If you're tired of the same old training routine, and want to shock your muscles into new growth, look no further!

Muscle Volume Training for Muscle GrowthSprechen sie Deutsch? Translated, that means do you speak German?

You don’t need to speak German to master German Volume Training. You only need to master your threshold for pain. Because German Volume Training is pain. It’s an insane and effective method of shocking your muscles.

Call German Volume Training the slumpbuster. If you’re in a rut, seeing no muscle gains, and need a dramatic change, look no further. Consider your muscle building slump to be over.

Core Principles of German Volume Training

German Volume Training isn’t rocket science. There’s no elaborate formulas to figure out, and no training techniques to be mastered. GVT is built around three simple, core principles:

  1. One Exercise. You perform one exercise per body part. That’s it. Stick with heavier, compound-style lifts that tax major muscle groups. Because you will be performing a limited number of exercises per week, proper exercise selection is critical in maximizing the effects of GVT.
  2. 100 Reps. For each exercise, you will be performing 10 sets of 10 reps. Start with 50 to 60% of your one rep max for that lift. Perform as many reps as possible for each of the 10 sets. There is no need to train to failure. Train close to failure. GVT is taxing enough without training to failure. When you can perform 100 total reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you use the same movement.
  3. Rest Pause. You will be resting approximately 60-90 second between sets. There are numerous forms of GVT floating around the Internet, some a variation of Vince Gironda’s 8x8 training, and some with incredibly short rest periods. Resist the urge to lower your rest periods under the 60 second mark. Limiting rest like this will force you to decrease the load. You’re already working with weights slightly above half of your 1RM. It does you no good to use lighter weights then this. For most exercises, a 60 second rest works best. For big, beefy and taxing exercises like the squat, 90 seconds is needed. (And then some!)

German Volume Training Notes

You will also find that on certain exercises, you will lose strength fairly quickly. My strength dives when trying to hammer out sets of overhead presses. I don’t think I’d be able to perform 10 sets of 10 reps with 20% of my 1RM for this exercise.

Hang in there. Over time, your strength endurance will noticeably increase. Push for one more rep on every set. As long as you focus on progression, the weight will take care of itself.

On the first few sets of an exercise, the weight will feel too light. You’ll start to wonder if you’ve made a mistake. You didn’t. Be patient. By sets 7, 8, 9 and 10, you’ll be in tremendous pain. GVT is very deceiving. On paper it looks too easy. After 2 sets, it feels too easy. After a week of GVT, you’ll be ready to quit the program, and never run it again. It’s tough! But it works!

The German Volume Training Routine

German Volume Training involves only three workouts per week. Resist the urge to break this routine up into a four or five day split before actually trying it. It’s best to try GVT for several weeks before tweaking with it. My first GVT squat day left me so sore that I had a hard time squatting 8 days later, so I recommend not changing the program at all.

The three workouts are push, pulls and legs. I’ve modified this workout from the original structure. The original GVT program advocated working arms and shoulders together, and then hitting back and chest three days later. The problem with this approach is that your arms get so blasted tired and sore that it is very difficult to properly workout your chest and back.

The structure of the workouts is as follows:

For abs and calves, there is no need to destroy yourself with a 10x10 set/rep scheme. Perform 3 sets of 10-25 reps for these body parts.

After working your chest and shoulders, your triceps may already be fried. Use your best judgment when working triceps. I recommend using 3 sets of 6-12 reps instead of the 10x10 method. But if you have it in the tank, by all means hammer out 10 sets on triceps.

The original German Volume Training method advocated only 3 sets for both biceps and triceps, and involved no direct hamstring work. You can stick with 3 sets for biceps, or jump up to 10x10. I prefer to go 10x10.

Do whatever is most effective for your body. For hamstrings, I recommend a 10x10 approach. Since you won’t be able to walk anyway from the squats, you might as well sell out completely to the pain.

German Volume Training Exercise Selection

Don’t get fancy with GVT. Stick with basic exercises, and avoid isolation work. A GVT program generally runs between 4-6 weeks. Pick exercises and stick with them. There is no need to worry about muscle confusion or isolation on GVT.

Time to Hit the Gym

It’s time to hit the gym. Expect extreme muscle soreness on this program. I recommend sticking with GVT no longer then 4-6 weeks. After that point, take a break. Your body will need it. Perform a more standard hypertrophy routine at this time.

Push yourself on every set. Try for one more rep. GVT is known for its ability to add up to 10 pounds of muscle over a 4-6 week cycle. Eat big, and rest big!

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  • About The Author
    Steve is a powerlifter who has also spent 20 years training in bodybuilding. He is a national level competitor training for an all-time over 50 raw world record.
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Phikaz
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 22:35

Can I substitute rear squats with front squats since this workout is high rep. I find it easier to do low rep on rear squats and fronts tend to really target the quads, imo.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 22:38

Hi Phikaz,

Sure, you can use front squats.

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Isak
Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 20:37

Hi Steve,

I have been giving GVT a try for the past few weeks, and although I am seeing very nice results with my shoulders and arms, my chest and abs seem to be lagging behind. I have been using the method that forces you to work the chest and back together on the same day, and then move on to legs and then to arms/shoulders... I am thinking of picking up the method you put down here, but I wanted to know if I should switch up the chest exercises I have been doing so far (bench DB presses with palms facing each other, both normal and decline..) would incline provide better results? Also, what do you recommend for abs? I want those two areas to pick up the slack asap.

Thank you for your time!

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Steve
Posted Tue, 07/20/2010 - 15:13

Hi Isak,

First off I want to ask you about diet. How many calories are you eating per day, and how much protein?

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Isak
Posted Tue, 07/20/2010 - 16:21

I have been working out for about 3 years now, but I had a 2 month break before I started GVT. I was down to 145 pounds when I started the program, and now I'm up to 152. I eat around 2000-2500 calories a day, and do the best I can to consume the 150~ grams of protein.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 12:58

Hi Isak,

For muscle building you should be eating more than you currently are. Limiting calories severely impact results. beginners can gain up to 15 pounds of muscle during their first year of training. I would eat with the goal of adding 2 pounds to the scale each month.

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Isak
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 13:29

Alright, so how many calories do you suggest I eat then?
And as for the chest and abs exercises, do you recommend anything different that would help those areas pick up the slack and join the arms and shoulders in the same rate of progression?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 19:39

I would start around 3200 calories per day, including 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. You may need to eat more, but this is a safe starting point.

For chest, get your eating down and stick with GVT. Sometimes it takes 3-4 weeks for a muscle to "catch up" to strain you are putting it under. If you eat big you might be surprised at how fast your chest improves.

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Isak
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 22:06

Thanks, I will give it a try.
I was also wondering about abs exercises... I pretty much have my upper core down, but my lower abs seem to be taking a while to come out. Truth be told, I've always had somewhat of a problem finding good exercises for that lower abs region.

Any recommendations on how to improve that specific area?

Thanks again for your time, I really appreciate it.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 07/22/2010 - 08:35

Hi Isak,

The real key will be diet. After you finish GVT, maybe try a cutting diet to reveal your lower abs more.

As far as working abs, you can add in ab work on any of the training days.

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Steve W
Posted Tue, 07/20/2010 - 14:37

Hey Gary, i was wondering i am a 17 year old weighing 85kilos, is this worth while for me or would you recomend another routine - prepared to do the hours needed.
Also worth while doing fitness training in the morning (to keep speed as weight increases) or does it inhibit the effects of the routine.

Thanks!

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Steve
Posted Tue, 07/20/2010 - 15:14

Hi Steve,

This is a good program for an intermediate lifter who has experience a fair amount of muscle gains in the past. How long have you been training?

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Steve W
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 07:47

I am have been lifting for about 3 years to keep fit and only really the last 1 and half years to start builking up. But i do alot of fitness work, does this matter (also eat lots to restore energy levels)?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/21/2010 - 13:00

Hi Steve,

With your experience this program would be a solid choice.

Fitness can help with performance during lifting.

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Rahul
Posted Thu, 01/19/2012 - 03:21

Hi Steve,

I am from India and your articles are really helpful since it is hard to get solid bodybuilding information here.

I have started german volume training this week as follows:

Monday chest and back
Decline dumbbell press 10 x 10
Barbell rowing 10 x 10

Tuesday legs
Squats barbell 10 x 10
Leg curl machine 10 x 10
Calf 3 sets of 15-20 reps

Wednesday 40 minutes cardio

Thursday arms and shoulders
Incline dumbbell curls 10 x 10
Parallel bar dips 10 x 10
Military barbell press 10 x 10

Friday 40 minutes cardio

Please advice is this routine is suitable to develop muscle mass.

Thanks a lot Steve
Rahul

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zorach
Posted Thu, 07/22/2010 - 20:43

? I'm legal handicap I walk by holding on I walk on tredmill .5-1.5 hr a day 5-6 days a week I also work out with weights 1-1.5 a day. I can only life light weight w/o shacking 3-5-8-10 lb dumb bells,now the questions?
?doing this gvt the weight starts to get heavy,with this light weight,will it add mass?
? can I use it an do 2 exersizes per body part?if not how many sets do I do 2x body part?
?since it short on time ,what do I do with the extra time?
? do I do cardio with this or with a 15-20 second it's not needed?
? how long can one stay on gvt
? do I do the lifts super slow?
? Is 30 mins. of hit cardio all thats needed?
?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/23/2010 - 11:51

Hi Zorach,

As long as you keep challenging yourself, trying to do a little more than during your last workout, you are in a good position to add mass. Just continue to take one step at a time and try to do more each day. This is a winning approach and it never fails.

You can use just 2 exercises per bodypart. I would prefer that you perform more of a beginner workout instead of German Volume Training though. Performing 2-3 exercises for 3 sets of 8-10 reps each week per bodypart would be a better approach for you right now.

20-30 minutes of cardio is plenty each day, especially if you are trying to gain muscle.

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Ben
Posted Sat, 07/24/2010 - 17:23

Steve, I'm going to do a 6 week cycle of this when school starts (I'm 17, not that it matters) and I have one area of concern. On back I would like to get my lats and my traps, and on chest I would like to get the upper and lower. I was postulating that I would just oscillate between the targeted areas on the alternating weeks. What do you suggest?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 07/25/2010 - 09:25

Hi Ben,

For chest, you could alternate exercises. But for back, you need to keep a lat and not a trap exercise in the routine at all times. If traps are an area of concern, you you add in 3 sets of barbell or dumbbell shrugs on back day.

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Ben
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 15:56

Alright, thank you very much!

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Sebas
Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 01:00

Hi, steve

Steve are you sure that is this the really GVT ? , because in the Charles Poliquin's version he said that for the tempo , you should use 4-0-2 for big muscles and 3-0-2 for small muscles.And that it should be distributed in a five-day cicle:
Chest & Back
Legs & Abs
Off
Arms & Shoulders
Off

- If u tired both wich gave u better results??

May you like to take a look to this article :

thank u for the help

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 08:11

Hi Sebas,

This is merely a version of GVT. As I have a stated previously, I tweaked it slightly to be more beginner friendly, and I also made some slight changes based on personal experiences.

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Josh
Posted Sun, 08/08/2010 - 11:12

This seems like an awesome workout, I do have a question though. This doesn't pertain only to this workout, either, but is something I've been wondering for a while; when you do lower weight high volume training like this for ~ a month, what kind of losses can you expect strength-wise if you transition into a more strength-oriented program after this one? For example, let's say I can currently bench 250 four times; if I did GVT for a month then went to the 5-day Power Muscle Burn split, would I still be able to hit around the same weight/reps for the power sets?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:28

Hi Josh,

I don't think you would experience any real strength losses. In fact, I think there is a 50/60 chance you might add a rep and hit 250 x 5.

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Josh
Posted Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:18

Oh wow, well that's fantastic then. Thanks!

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Steve T
Posted Thu, 08/12/2010 - 12:36

Hi, Steve -

Don't know if you're still monitoring feedback on this article or not, but I wanted to chime in. I started GVT last week based on your program, and am looking forward to seeing the results.

A couple of questions:

First, one thing I was a little bit surprised about is that I don't seem to be as sore as folks are noting in their experience -- but I am taking Creatine, Xtend, and ZMA, which all seem to help me recover faster with less soreness after a workout.

I was wondering if you think I should stick with 10 sets or maybe cycle up to 12 every other week if I don't experience that level of soreness? If I am recovering better, should I try to do more? Is soreness more conducive to anabolic conditions?

Second, you hint at this a little bit in the comments near the end, but I was wondering how you think this type of routine affects the internals of the muscle (i.e. how/where is the growth happening?), and what benefits one might expect to see in returning to a more normal, heavy-weight based program afterwards?

Thanks very much for posting such insightful articles! Keep up the great work,

Steve T
Murrysville, PA

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Steve
Posted Thu, 08/12/2010 - 15:19

Hi Steve,

I never ran GVT with Xtend. I started taking Xtend this year. I rarely get much soreness on any workout since taking it. But I am really surprised that your legs aren't brutally sore.

Soreness in and of itself isn't important. I would add weight. Progressive resistance really drives any routine, and as long as you keep adding weight and eating, you'll be good to go. You definitely could try more sets if you'd like.

To your second question...I trained using limited rest all year in 2009. Once you cease doing this style of training, it doesn't take long for the body to lose strength endurance. But once you return to a more standard workout, you will most likely see strength increases even though you were using lighter weight on GVT. The real benefits of GVT are from a shocking muscle growth spurt. Even if this is only a pound, a pound is a pound is a pound...

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Steve T
Posted Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:04

Thanks very much for your prompt and helpful reply. I will report on my experience after finishing the program.

The concept is very interesting to me, too. Do you think GVT hits different aspects of muscle fibers or cells that just increasing reps (say, in the 12-20 range) does not? Do you know of any muscle biopsy studies that have been done after GVT? Just curious on the science behind the technique.

Take care,

Steve T

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Steve
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:16

Hi Steve,

To be honest, I've never explored the program to that degree.

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Steve T
Posted Tue, 08/17/2010 - 10:23

I need to amend my earlier report: When I commented on soreness, I was referring to chest and back; I had gone lighter on legs the first week I did GVT because of a strain. But this past Friday, I started with a 60% weight for leg presses and had to fall back to 50% by the end of the ten sets. I think Xtend probably still took some of the edge off, but my legs are very sore as of Tuesday.

I ended up adding 2 sets to my chest workout and may do the same for back this week, but the leg workout will stay the same. :-)

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Beto
Posted Tue, 08/17/2010 - 18:15

Steve,

I have been involved in the sport of Running (Track, Cross-Country, Marathons) for most of my life. I begun this training routine last week and have NEVER FELT THIS TYPE OF SORENESS IN MY LEGS...EVER!

My question is regarding a statement you make toward the end of your column:

"I recommend sticking with GVT no longer then 4-6 weeks. After that point, take a break. Your body will need it. Perform a more standard hypertrophy routine at this time."

Can you be a bit more specific on what you would consider an appropriate "break" and perhaps suggest a routine to follow this one with, maybe another column you have written?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 08/18/2010 - 14:56

Hi Beto,

There are very few workouts as intense as GVT, so I would suggest switching to any intermediate-style muscle building routine such as:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/scrutinys-4-day-muscle-buildin...

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/pyramid-volume-training.html

Both of these workouts are effective. Super intense training systems like GVT can wear down the central nervous system amongst other things, so moving to something without that degree of intensity is a nice break.

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Newfitt
Posted Sun, 08/22/2010 - 17:04

Hi Steve. Wonderful article, very much appreciated.

I have a couple of questions though. I have been working out for only 9 months, would it be OK for me to do this now? or should i wait.

Another question: Is it supposed to be pushing 100 reps in total, or am i just gonna do 10x10 sets and reps till i can do exactly 100 reps? For example if i can only do 80 reps in total out of those 10 sets, will i then have to add another 2 sets to make the last 20 reps? Or is the 10x10 just a parameter for when to add more weight?

Is one excercise for legs enough? Doing squats for example? Would it be alright to do hammer strength shoulder presses since i have some elbow problems?

Thanks in advance

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Steve
Posted Mon, 08/23/2010 - 15:28

Hi Newfitt,

That depends on what gains you have experienced so far. If you have a good handle on how to eat, how to get stronger, and a solid understanding of form, then I would try GVT.

Regarding the sets, it can be very difficult to hit 10 reps on every set. I wouldn't increase weight until you can complete a 10x10. Always perform the 10 sets, even if you can't complete the reps. On GVT, the effort will be more important than the total reps or weight used.

And one exercise for legs is plenty! I once tried GVT, and squats left me unable to walk straight for almost 9 days.

Hammer strength presses would be ok.

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pete
Posted Sun, 08/29/2010 - 04:13

hey. is incline or flat bench better,? i do feel upper chest may be under-developed.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 08/29/2010 - 07:48

Hi Pete,

You could use either for this program.

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Daniel
Posted Thu, 09/02/2010 - 16:23

I just started doing GVT....would it be ok to do antagonist sets to shorten up the workout??

For example, combine flat bench with french press and shorten rest between sets.

1 set flat bench, 1 set french press, 60 seconds rest??

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Steve
Posted Fri, 09/03/2010 - 13:48

Hi Daniel,

I would run it as structured. If you squeeze in tricep work in between chest work you won't be maximizing your chest exercise because of tricep fatigue.

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Steve T
Posted Sun, 09/05/2010 - 18:08

Hi, Steve -

Checking in after my fourth week of GVT.

I've reached a transition in the leg press, I think, getting 98/100 reps during my last workout. I've only been resting one minute to this point, and I was thinking about increasing the rest to a 1:30 for the last two weeks and bumping up the weight. I'm currently doing 350 lbs; was thinking about adding another 20? Is that enough of an increase? What are your thoughts on these changes?

Also, while I've gone up in other exercises (either weight or reps or both), my incline dumbbell press has not progressed over the last couple of weeks (i.e. same weight, approx. same reps for 10 sets). I was wondering if I should just continue on, or cut back on reps for a week, or something else?

I'd be grateful for your advice.

Thanks,

Steve

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Steve T
Posted Sun, 09/05/2010 - 19:56

Sorry, Steve. I reread the article and saw the note about increasing the weight 5lbs. I guess that answers my question.

Take care,

Steve

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Anthony
Posted Tue, 09/07/2010 - 16:18

hi, i is this training for bulking up? also as i am finding it hard to put on weight and because i work awkward times which means occassionally missing out meals, would weight gain supplements be okay to use?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:44

Hi Anthony,

This is a great routine to use while bulking.

I would recommend the use of a weight gainer, and adding in foods like whole milk, almonds and natural peanut butter.

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andy
Posted Sat, 09/11/2010 - 16:44

hey was thinking could u do pre excaust 4 each set. example instead of doing ten bench press do a chest flys, fail on tenth rep straight into bench press and then rest and do this ten sets would this be overtraining? ovbiously this is a chest day

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Steve
Posted Mon, 09/13/2010 - 10:45

Hi Andy,

To be honest, I don't think you should add in anything until you have tried this workout for several weeks. It is brutal as designed.

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Steve T
Posted Sun, 09/12/2010 - 11:52

I said earlier that I'd report back results when I finished the program. I had taken measurements about 7 weeks ago, and started GVT two weeks into that (lighter on legs at first, but worked them very hard for a solid 4 weeks). Ate big and rested big, per Steve's instructions.

I took measurements last week and made some good gains: ~10 lbs heavier, +1/2" on my arms, +5/8" on my calves, and +2" on my thighs. Family and friends have noticed, too. :-) I probably have to lose ~3.5 lbs of fat that I put on, but the rest is good muscle gain. That's impressive for an ectomorph like me.

It is a very tough program, and I burned out when I tried to go another week. I'm ready for a change, 'want to get back to heavier weights and more variety in exercises, but I will probably return to GVT at some time later in the future.

Thanks, Steve, for writing the article and for your patience and willingness to help along the way.

Take care,

Steve T
Murrysville, PA

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Steve
Posted Mon, 09/13/2010 - 10:47

Hi Steve,

Great results! Nice work. It's hard to stick with this program, but you are living proof of it's effectiveness. And you point out the very reason you can't run it forever - it's extremely taxing. Again, great work!

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Steve T
Posted Fri, 09/17/2010 - 19:45

Getting back to heavier weights the last two days and it looks like I did get stronger despite using lighter weights for GVT. My recovery between sets is also very good.

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Raana
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 21:32

with gvt method just say the first week i use the same weight for each exercise dose that meen the next week i add a bit more weight or continue the same weight as last week and so on

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Steve
Posted Fri, 09/17/2010 - 11:57

Hi Raana,

When you can perform 10 reps for all 10 sets with a weight, add weight.

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Hooligan
Posted Sat, 09/18/2010 - 08:17

Hey steve, i'm from Bulgaria so if there is problem with my english please excuse me. (:
I'm ~66kg. I'm training for 2years now. :) I'll start GVT after few days.. but my chest is very behind.. can you tell me some diet or something.. ? :P

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