German Volume Training for Shocking Muscle Growth

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 Shaw is an experienced raw masters powerlifter with over 31 years of iron game experience. His best competition lifts are a 602.5 pound squat, a 672.5 pound deadlift, and a 382.5 pound deadlift. Steve is also known as a powerbuilder. His goal is to help others build as much muscle and strength as humanly possible.

548 Comments+ Post Comment

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 03/15/2012 - 15:16

When I use this I did 10 sets and no more, as many reps as I could manage per set. Some exercises are a bear to get 10x10 on, even with real light weight.

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Posted Mon, 03/12/2012 - 12:36

Is it ok to do cardio during your rest days of a GVT program?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 03/15/2012 - 15:15

Yes, absolutely.

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Posted Mon, 03/05/2012 - 21:06

It's hard enough just trying to figure this out well enough to just to try it. I guess I kinda get it? I need something to change me up in the gym I am bored as hell.

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Posted Wed, 02/29/2012 - 07:02

hello everyone, i had a bad case of shoulder tendonitis, and even though i love spending time in the gym, i was out for more than two months, i couldn't do anything with my right arm. I tried so many variations, and it just kept on hurting.
so i start "surfing" for solutions, and ran across this page, the light weight i use for one of the shoulder press exercises is just what i needed, now I’m in my second week and it feels great, the shoulder pain i knew is gone (partly due to new pain caused by soreness of muscles in the whole body) :). but I’ll stick with it
love the comments and love the replies
keep up the great work

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Posted Fri, 02/24/2012 - 11:06

hi steve,

am i right in thinking if you where doing incline bench press you would do all 10 sets of 10 reps on incline bench press before moving on to anything else?

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Posted Wed, 02/22/2012 - 08:29
Scott Mc

Just wondering if there should be some sort of warm-up before each session i.e lot people do the usual 5 mins cardio etc or as i do 50% working set for 10 reps then 5 reps of 75% working set.

Just wondering if a certain way of warming up is recommended beforehand with GVT??

Cheers scott

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Posted Wed, 02/15/2012 - 05:01

Seems like a good program but I am worried about 1 thing. After 6 weeks of GVT using only 60% of my 1RM, wouldn't my 1RM go down? I can't imagine not lifting heavy or even close to my maximum for so long and my maximum wouldn't be much less (I've been doing mostly low volume heavy weight programs and I like heavy weights, I don't wan to loose any gains)

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Posted Wed, 02/08/2012 - 05:46
Jessie Harrison

Hi Steve,

I dont know if this conversation is closed, just wanted to chime in and tell u the gains i made on this programme were unreal. BRUTALLY DEEP muscle soreness for the entire 6 weeks i ran this but was well worth the pain. ive added over 1/2 inch to just about all body parts that i smashed and now tapering to a heavy low rep progamme my strength has increased, best of all is people noticing!

Thanks a lot, u the man.
Jessie, England.

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Posted Tue, 01/31/2012 - 15:54

Me and a friend did chest and back monday, would it be advisable to do arms and shoulders for our next session, then on our 3rd of the week do abs and legs? What would you reccomend? Thanks

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Posted Mon, 01/30/2012 - 21:46
Steve G

Steve how would you incorporate this workout if you can only get to the gym 4 days in a row. I can only get to the gym Monday- Thursday. Please set up a routine for me thanks

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Posted Sun, 01/29/2012 - 15:20

What happens if I can only push out 7-9 reps on my last 3 sets? What should I do?

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Posted Sat, 01/14/2012 - 00:12

From July to October last year I was doing 100 sit-ups a day (and then I picked it up again for a while in November and December every other day). I initially did 5 sets of 20 but by the end I could do 70 without a break and the next 30 were easy. By then I just wasn't getting any gain from it (I assume, as I never felt any sort of burn). I plan to try GVT in the summer and I'm wondering if there's much point in working out the abs. Only way I can make it feasible is if I do crunches or twists with a reasonably heavy dumbell.

Should I bother?

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Posted Thu, 12/08/2011 - 09:00
josh rawlinson

For lower back can i perform dead lifts? or what would you suggest?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 10:35

I don't recommend any direct exercises for the lower back while using GVT.

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Posted Sun, 12/04/2011 - 21:49

Hi steve.

One question: when I am performing my first few sets, and they are relatively easy, should I stop at 10 reps or push until 1 rep shy of faliure? should the amount of reps performed ever go over 10 for each set? I know once I get to sets 7,8,9, and 10 I will hardly be able to do many reps at all, but I was just confused on what to do for the first few easy sets.


Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 10:34

Do not train to failure while using GVT. Stop at 10 reps.

It's ok to not reach 10 reps on every set. That's normal. Just try to do more than you did during your last workout.

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Posted Wed, 11/30/2011 - 20:11

Hey Steve, say a person goes thru GVT for 4 to 6 weeks like recommended and then picks up on a standard hypertrophy routine like you suggested, how soon can said person return to GVT ? and what are the cons of continuing GVT past 4 to 6 weeks ? would there be any pros in continuing ?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 10:32

I personally would stay off it for 3-4 months. It's good to take periods to just focus on building strength and muscle without the extreme physical intensity that comes with GVT. Over time progression of weight is the best muscle building, but programs like this are certainly good tools to use occasionally.

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Posted Fri, 11/11/2011 - 05:04

hi Steve,

Just want to know if you need to stick to the same excercises for each body part for the entire program or you can change the excercises each week. Say you are doing bench press for the chest one week, can you change to dips the week after or you should stick to bench presss only.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:07

I would stick with the same exercises during the duration, unless you know what to expect with the other exercises.

Sometimes it can be difficult to predict what weight will work for a 10x10. If you are confident with the weight choice, it's ok to alternate every other week.

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Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:59

I just started the GVT and I am in love with it!!! I feel it everytime I am working out. It is very intense and I am getting all of my friends to try it out. I know for sure I will see some results soon.

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Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 14:38

Hi, I have a shoulder injury and I'm just training with resistance bands and body weight. Would I still get results from using this same programme?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:10

Hi David,

No, unfortunately. That doesn't mean it won't be beneficial though. Do what you can, when you can. That's the important thing.

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Posted Tue, 11/08/2011 - 12:42

I tried this with shoulders this week. WOW! I was thinking about taking this to a one body part at a time phase. You could switch to another lagging body part in a month or so. This is very fatiguing, so would that be a way to go to avoid burnout?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:09

I think it's a great choice. I have used 10x10 schemes to target lagging bodyparts every now and then.

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Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 14:35
Mario Nunes

Hi Steve, I have been doing Stronglifts 5X5 for 10 weeks now, no previous experience on the 4 of the 5 exercises whatsoever before this.
I know this is Intermediate stuff but I would like to do it if possible after I complete the 12th week of SL.
I´m 34 years old, weight 160 pounds and I am 5´10.
My current lift as of week 10 are :
Squat(parallel) 92.5kg
OHP 42.5kg
Bench Press 52.5kg
Pendlay Row 62.5kg
Deadlift 110kg
What are your opinions ?
Best regards!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:07

Hi Mario,

I don't feel a program like GVT would be beneficial to you right now. You can still use a program like Stronglifts and make rapid gains.

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Posted Sun, 11/06/2011 - 00:30

hey m using this routine ............ Please reply if any thing wrong with it

Chest & back--- Barbell Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds rest.
Bent Over Barbell Row: 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds rest.
Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 20reps. 60 seconds rest.
Close Grip Pull downs: 3 sets of 20reps. 60 seconds rest

legs-- Barbell Squat: 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds rest.
Lying Leg Curl: 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds rest.
Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.
Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.

shoulder &arms-- Triceps Dips : 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds
Incline hammer : 10 sets of 10 reps. 90 seconds rest.
Side Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 15 reps. 60 seconds rest.
Rear Delt Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps. 60 seconds rest.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:05

That should work well.

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Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 23:56

thanks for ur reply Bro

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Posted Thu, 12/08/2011 - 09:02
josh rawlinson

I think your meant to work it as a pull day (Back Bi)push day (chest tri shoulders) and a legs day) so you dont over lap within the week.

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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 09:19
kenny (london)

Hi Steve,

Anyone else please feel free to add comments. More the merrier!

Wow.. You have done well on answering all these questions

Just two more:

1. What affect does the GVT have on your abs? I want to get very cut abs while building bigger/stronger chest,arms and legs.

2. Whats your opinion on extracting certain aspects of the GVT to my current workout. see below and let me know what you think:

I train at lunchtimes during the week so only have 50mins max in the gym Monday to Friday

DAY 1: Monday
DB Clean and Jerk 4 sets of 12 standard weight increase
GVT Chest work out
My regular 9 set (3x3) ab workout

Day 2: Wednesday
DB 1 arm snatch 3/4 sets of 12 each arm standard weight increase
GVT Back workout
Ab work out 9 sets (3x3) different to day 1

Day 3. Friday
DB over head wood chop with squat 3/4 sets of 12 std weight incrs
GVT shoulder workout
Ab workout again (3x3) different exercises to day 1/2

Is adding chest a 2nd time instead of shoulders a 100% no no??

Please let me know what you think and do you think i am over doing my abs?


Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 14:33

1) This is a muscle building workout. it will build your abs to a small degree, but "seeing" your abs comes only from diet.

2) Don't perform more than one 10x10 per bodypart each week. Other than that it looks good. You ab work is a bit excessive.

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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 18:18

Hi Steve thanks for the fast response.

I do have a pretty good diet and hardly consume any "bad" fats.
I have also started to take green tea supplements that have been recommended to me as a fat burner.

So if I stick with the shoulders on day 3 so keeping to once a week on each body part does the workout look ok?

So it's fine mixing the snatch and Clean & jerks with the GVT?

I know I haven't tried it yet but it's hard to think one chest work out a week is going to be enough?

I am guessing I won't be saying that after the first weeks training?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 15:04

Looks good. You should be fine using the snatch and clean and jerk.

One chest workout a week will be fine, especially on this workout. If you use heavy enough weight you will be in pain and won't want to lift chest for a week.

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Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 00:12

Hey Steve. I have been working out for about 10 weeks now nd used 2 different routines I have gained about 10-15 lbs since bt not completely of muscle I have definately gained size in ma upper body however ma abs are starting to vanish would this be a good work out for me. Also can I incorporate cardio on the off days and on work out days or would it be detrimental to the routine?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 12:56

Cardio will be fine, but I wouldn't overdo it.

It's ok for your abs to vanish,. Build muscle and then strip that little bit of extra fat off. Since you have made good gains this workout is a good choice.

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Posted Mon, 03/12/2012 - 14:47

Hey Steve,

How many days should you take off per week during GVT? What I've been doing is the following:

Mon: chest/back
Tues: cardio
Wed: legs
Thur: cardio
Fri: arms + 30min post workout cardio
Sat: cardio + abs
Sun: off


Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:14

That looks ok.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/01/2011 - 15:26

If building muscle is a goal I would limit cardio to 3-4 times per week, 20-30 minutes per session. As long as you eating properly and training hard, cardio shouldn't hinder gains.

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Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 21:59
Juan Figueroa

Hey Steve sorry to bother you again but how much cardio do you think is good to incorporate to this workout. How much would be okay to do that wouldn't keep me from gaining muscle.

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Posted Sun, 10/30/2011 - 20:13
Steven Katz

Hi Steve, would it be ok to incorporate squat workout from A/B 2 day split, coupled with shoulder 10x10
Back/biceps, Chest/triceps?

I run 3x a week and I have concerns about my legs being shut down after a GVT session.



Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 12:55

Sure that should work well.

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Posted Thu, 10/27/2011 - 19:58

hi steve,
i was wondering how about a 5day split in GVT manner?

day1: chest
day2: back
day4: shoulders
day5: arms


day1: chest and back
day2: legs
day3: rest
day4: shoulders
day 5: arms

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 12:54

I wouldn't go with 5 days. That's too much. You are hammering triceps 3x a week.

The 4 day is feasible but don't overwork the arms.

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Posted Tue, 10/25/2011 - 22:03

So I have a question, you say to do GVT for 4-6 weeks and then take a break and do a more standard workout, how long before you can switch back to GVT? Just when you feel your body is up for it again?

Thanks for the help

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:36

I would take at least 2-3 months off.

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Posted Wed, 10/19/2011 - 11:58
Steven Katz

Hi Steve, I wrapped up a Advanced GVT program about 6 weeks ago (reps of 10x5, 4, 3, 5, 4, 3 over 6 weeks) Would it be on to start the 10x10 process over again?

Thanks, Steven

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 15:58

If your body feels good them by all means.