German Volume Training.

Kris 5
German Volume Training.

If I had to describe German Volume Training (GVT), it’d be in one word: ridiculous. I first learned about this routine while reading various bodybuilding forums, and I wasn’t even looking for a routine. It just so happened that on several big forums, literally day in and day out, someone was mentioning how great their results were using German Volume Training. At first I paid it no attention, but when it was being constantly brought up, after a while I decided to dig in and figure out what this was all about. Once I read some more reviews, saw some more results, and did my research, I put the routine to the test. Needless to say, you can trust me when I say I wouldn’t be writing about it if it didn’t live up to the hype. So let’s get to the juicy parts.

German Volume Training follows a simple ideology: get in the gym, hit a body part with a high amount of volume done at a fast pace, and leave it to rest and recuperate. Not too bad right? Well, maybe for the high volume part.¬† When I first read about this routine, I figured I’d be able to handle it well. I was amped, and ready to go. When the time came, and I was busting my butt to get the sets done…I regretted every second of giving it a try (in a good way!).

The principle understanding for German Volume Training goes like this:

3 days a week, with a break between each day, is the recommended gym session count. For most, that would be Mon/Wed/Fri. The reasoning is easy to understand, you put your body under a great deal of stress and you literally NEED those days off to get back and ready to go for another week. At first, I thought I could pull this off by going in on Sunday, and then starting the next week from Tuesday. Well…that didn’t happen, and that’s the expected result. I’m not trying to hold you back though, if you could pull that off and not overwhelm your body…shoot for the stars, right? Point is, we’ll cover this based on what’s expected and recommended, which is the regular 3 days a week. For those who lift 4-5 times a week, even 6, you’ll understand (just as everyone else who tries it) when you undergo your first week. You really won’t be needing any more days if you really pick the right exercises and push yourself.

The actual training bracket of German Volume Training is as follows (2 versions):

(1) Monday – Legs/abs

Wednesday – Chest/Back

Friday – Shoulders/arms

(2) Monday – Legs/abs

Wednesday – Chest/Back/bi

Friday – Shoulders/Tri

As you can see above, either split works. In fact, you can skip the arm work in each one. I know, sounds unfathomable. However, compared to your other muscles, your bi and tri is small, and either way will get hit on 2 of the 3 days. Bi is 1/3rd of your arm, it’ll get hit on Wednesday (Back). Tri is 2/3rds of your arm, and it’ll get hit both Wednesday and Friday (Chest/Shoulders). Again, that depends on you. It’s definitely not necessary though, but for those who can’t let go, knock yourselves out. If your arms are lacking, might as well prioritize to gain muscle and leave those in there.

In terms of working sets and reps, German Volume Training is very unique. For each body part you work, you’re going to pick one major exercise, and do 10 sets of 10 reps. Following that, you will pick another exercise and do 3 sets of 10 reps. Now keep this in mind, you have at most 1 minute rest between each set. Do not take more time. If you find yourself taking 2 minutes, or a minute and a half, you need to lower the weight. The point of German Volume Training is to hit your muscle group hard, and fast. It’s a combination of the two, so treat both parts as equals, and don’t slack on either.

German Volume Training provides tremendous stress to the muscle you’re targeting, and with that high of a volume your body will have no choice but to adapt and get bigger, so long as you make sure you’re eating above maintenance calories and enhance training by using the Mind Muscle Connection. Your body needs the nutrients to recover, and get you ready for the next session more than ever when you’re doing this routine. Matter of fact, I noticed that when I was on it my body was constantly hungry and automatically ready to devour anything I fed it. So if hunger is an extra benefit of doing German Volume Training, great…because you’ll need to make sure you eat tons if you want results. And as the other article mentions, always make sure your form is perfect and you’re really targeting the muscle intended. Don’t let other muscles overtake your primary targeted muscle group, that’ll only detract from your results.

Now that we have all of that covered, I want to also mention that it’s important you pick the right exercises when getting ready to tackle German Volume Training. If you’re working shoulders, don’t do 10×10 of lateral raises as opposed to Overhead Presses or Seated Dumbbell Presses, that should be a no brainer. Pick exercises that you’d rely on if you were doing a different split, meaning compound exercises that are your main lifts for that day. Here’s a list of the best exercises you can use, based on an EMG study. Here’s some good examples tailored to routine (2):


Monday – Squats 10×10 (good luck), Leg Press 3×10/ Leg Raises 10×10 (abs)

Wednesday – Bench Press 10×10, Incline Dumbbell Press 3×10/ Barbell Rows 10×10, Lat Pulldowns 3×10/ Barbell Curls 10×10

Friday – Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 10×10, Lateral Raises 3×10/ Skullcrushers 10×10


Another important note that you can probably see from the examples above, is that if you do decide to go with split (2) and do Bi/Tri – Wed/Fri, you’re only doing the 10×10 instead of the extra 3×10 secondary set for arms. Like I’ve already mentioned, they should already be fried from the regular back/chest/shoulder part…but if you really can keep going and won’t get out of the gym without doing arms, more power to you. Also, we’re not there for eternity…if you push yourself this will take time even with the 1 minute rest times as there’s plenty to do. Also keep in mind that if you do split (1) one week, and you feel like changing to (2), you can go right ahead the following week. The differences are miniscule and as you can see only really cover the arm training placement (if you even include it). I included it when I began, but phased it out as the weeks rolled on cause I was getting more than enough work from the main body part movements. Everybody’s different though. Again, prioritize.

For a final “rule”, as you can see you can’t just pick up a weight and do 10 sets with 1 minute rest times like it’s nothing. It’s got to be a weight that takes you to your limits, but something that you can actually do following the necessary requirements. That usually means performing 10 sets of 10 reps with a weight that you can comfortably do around 15 reps with. It might seem easy for the first couple of sets, but the rest time + heavy volume will start wearing you down around the 5th or 6th set. If you do find it easy, move up. If you find it too hard and can’t complete sets, lower the weight. You have to obviously adjust based on how you’re feeling, but that’s a good way to gauge what’s appropriate when you start. Many people underestimate the 10×10 German Volume Training routine and load up on weight 4-5 sets in, only to fail a couple sets later. Don’t be that person, leave your ego at the door and perform the sets correctly and with appropriate weight. It will get harder towards the latter half of your sets, don’t mistake the early sets as a gauge for the rest to come. After all, you’re using a weight you should be comfortable with past 10 reps, so naturally at the start it’ll be easier. The test is in whether you can keep up the intensity for 10 sets.

German Volume Training is nothing to scoff at, it doesn’t look as bad on paper as it is if you really push yourself to the limit in the gym. You’ll need the rest days, and you’ll need as much food as you can muster. You want results? Try this out and if your form is in check, if your diet is in check, and if you have the mental strength to withstand 10 sets when you’re dying out on 5, you’ll grow well. German Volume Training is hell, but well worth it. The recommended week time for this routine is 6 weeks, with some people maxing out at around 8 weeks. I’d suggest sticking with 6, it’s more than enough. After that, either take a week off or de-load (do the routine but 50% of what you’d normally do to allow for recovery). Good luck, and for a more in-depth look at GVT visit our German Volume Training Revisted: FAQ!

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  1. Bill Metzger April 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    I want to put in a good word for GVT full body. (per workout)
    I walked into GVT without knowing there was such a routine. at 56 yrs old. Put in 2.5 hrs 3 nights a week and slowly increased wight until I was doing 10×10@160 lb on bench.
    Eventually reached a full body strentgh condition better than when I was 17. One word ‘Awesome’! My mistake was not taking a break period after 2 months . I went about 6 months straight.

  2. vincenzo November 9, 2012 at 3:33 am - Reply

    what about other muscle groups such as forearm, calves?

    • Kris November 10, 2012 at 2:35 am - Reply

      Throw in 3-4 sets at the end of each GVT training day. You have 3 options: 1) alternate forearms and calves with each GVT session or 2) superset them at the end of each session or 3) alternate between options #1 and #2 (especially if you want to prioritize calves or forearms). Considering they both recover relatively quickly any of these options is viable, and it will depend on what works for you and your energy levels.

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