Unlock The Secret To Serious Muscle With German Volume Training

Pretend for a second that you’re the coach of one of the best teams in the world. You’re like Phil Jackson, Tom Landry*, and John Wooden all rolled into one. You’re like the Dumbledore of the coaching world.

*Some people may be curious as to why I listed Tom Landry, and not the coach that he spent a considerable amount of time under; Vince Lombardi. The answer is simple: I am a Texan and a Cowboys fan. As such, Tom Landry reigns supreme in my book. Also, I don’t think Lombardi had a winning record for 20 consecutive seasons like Landry did. Which was done in a much more developed NFL mind you.

But I digress.

You’re a badass coach. Got it? But you’ve got a problem on your hands. Your athletes need to get bigger and stronger in order to compete on the highest stage. You’ve tried everything you can think of, and you’re stuck.

So what do you do? Come up with one of the most brutally effective training plans ever thought of, otherwise known as German Volume Training.

A German weightlifting coach named Rolf Feser needed a system to pack muscle mass on his athletes as fast as possible because the Germans were getting owned on the world stage.

In the process of making them more competitive, he came up with a program that lifters the world over have been turning to for over 40 years now when they want to build serious mass.

How does it work?

The core tenet of German Volume Training is extremely simple: 10 sets of 10 reps on a given exercise. It’s exhausting, and if you’re not used to this much work it can leave you feeling like you’ve never lifted a weight in your life.

However, if you push through there are serious size gains to be had thanks to the repeated stress and volume that is placed on the motor units and muscle fibers within your muscle tissue, forcing them to respond by growing so that they can handle the inordinate amount of stress you’re placing on them.

From a 30,000-foot view, this makes sense. If you want to get bigger you need to lift more. And up to a point, that works. You consistently add weight to the bar, overload the muscles, and force them to adapt by growing in size.

After awhile it doesn’t work so well, though, and you’ve got to figure out a different way to make them grow.

This is where the insane amount of volume found in GVT comes into play. When you’re doing 100 total reps spread out over 10 sets, the individual weight may not be near as high as you initially think, but the sheer amount of work is what gets the job done.

How do you build a program with German Volume Training?

While doing 10 sets of 10 reps is relatively simple, building a program that looks like that isn’t. You can’t just do 10×10 on every single exercise in a given program because the body can’t handle that much work for too long. You’ll wind up with joints that hate you and be forced to take time off in the gym.

Instead, it’s smart to choose certain exercises within a program and use those for the 10×10 method. Typically compound exercises that you’re naturally going to be stronger at and involve a large number of muscles working together at once are best here.

Once you’ve gotten that compound exercise figured out it’s usually smart to fill in the rest of the workout with a couple of assistance exercises that involve far fewer sets, and less overall work.

This functions to help hit the muscle fibers from a different angle, as well as providing additional stimulus for more overall growth.

What about supersetting?

Depending on who you ask people can go either way with super-setting in this type of program. Some are whole heartedly against it, and advise training one body part a day, whereas others advocate it and suggest training multiple body parts per day.

I’ve personally found that super-setting with multiple body parts and this style of training works far more effectively for overall growth and allows someone to get in and out of the gym a bit more quickly, which is more conducive to helping this brutal training program fit within someone’s daily life.

The German Volume Training Program:

This program is set up so that you’re working on two body parts per day, arranged in an agonist/antagonist style split. This was a training method that classic bodybuilders like Arnold preferred, and it tends to work wonders for overall growth.

Day 1: Chest and back

A1. Dumbbell incline bench press

A2. Chin-up

10×10 – Go from A1 directly to A2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

B1. Dumbbell flyes

B2. Single arm dumbbell row

3×12 – Go from B1 directly to B2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

Day 2: Legs and abs

A1. Barbell front squat

A2. Lying leg curl

10×10 – Go from A1 directly to A2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

B1. Lunge

B2. Hanging leg raise

3×12 – Go directly from B1 to B2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

Day 3: Shoulders and arms

A1. Close grip bench press

A2. Barbell curl

10×10 – Go directly from A1 to A2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

B1. Rear delt flyes

B2. Lateral raise

3×12 – Go directly from B1 to B2, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat.

What about rest days?

This style of training is a beating. It puts your body under and intense amount of stress, and as such you need to give it plenty of time to recover. Especially because if you train too frequently you’ll find that some of your training sessions suffer, because certain body parts haven’t had time to bounce back.

As such, I would suggest going with the following schedule:

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Off
  • Day 3
  • Off

The program itself continually repeats. So it’s not like a traditional weeklong program that you may be accustomed to. You’re getting in about six workouts a week on average, so it’s important to fit those rest days in.

Maintaining this schedule allows you to essentially hit each workout twice within a week, which is enough frequency to allow for some serious growth. I would try to keep this schedule going for 6-8 weeks, and no longer. After that point, you’ll likely notice that your joints start aching from the amount of work you’re doing.

What about the weight you’ll use?

It should be implicitly understood, but you can’t go extremely heavy on big compound movements for 100 total reps. Instead, aim to use about 65-70% of your max on movements like the squat and dumbbell bench press. Your first couple of sets should feel light, but I promise you that will change as the sets continue on.

A quick note on nutrition.

When you lift with this much volume, and this much frequency, the body has the perfect stimulus for growth. But in order to make that happen, you’ve got to eat for growth.

Don’t be stingy with the carbs and protein, especially around your workout periods. This is a 6-8 week program designed to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, so eat like it.

Feser changed the world of lifting forever with this program, and it’s something that people have consistently turned to for years. Just be ready to buy new clothes.