Posted on January 09 2018
German Volume Training or GVT, is a hypertrophy based bodybuilding program that came about in the mid 1970’s. Although it is known to be targeted towards bodybuilders, GVT was pioneered by German National Weightlifting coach Rolf Feser. Later, Charles Poliquin, Vince Gironda and Bev Francis were responsible for the popularity amongst Americans. Also referred to as “the 10 sets method,” GVT got a reputation for being extremely effective at packing on lean mass, especially amongst beginner to novice lifters. There are stories circulating the web concerning GVT that seem almost too good to be true — lifters packing on 10 lb. of lean mass in 6 weeks, and weightlifters having to bump up weight classes due to size increase in the offseason. It is a known fact that the base GVT scheme is more effective with novice lifters, but advanced lifters have also experienced the same size gains with a few tweaks to the base/beginner GVT program. (Charles Poliquin, one of the main pioneers of GVT has an extensive layout on his website, http://www.strengthsensei.com/, of the progressions that your GVT program should go through as your body accommodates.) Keep in mind, many of the talking points in this short overview will be referencing a beginners GVT program. It is a good idea to hash out your goals before going into a program like GVT. The weights, reps, sets and rest time are all designed to produce muscle hypertrophy. This program is not designed for maximal strength gains.
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The goal of a GVT workout is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight for each exercise. A good tip for beginners is to start with a weight that you could lift for 20 or so reps before reaching failure. A lot of references online all agree that it equates to roughly around 60% of your 1RM. The weight is questionably light at first. By utilizing rest time and supersets, fatigue becomes exponential. It is no secret that a proper GVT workout will smoke you. The basis of GVT is exposing the same targeted muscles to the same repeated stimulus, for an increased volume— more volume than what most gym-goers are accustomed to. The body adapts and hypertrophies the targeted muscles over time. A typical workout may only have 4 exercises with 2 supersets. The intensity of the workouts only allow for a limited number of exercises, but the sheer number of sets and reps adds up very quickly. The workouts are broken up into the big movements and accessory movements. Big movements are usually done first with the accessory lifts following. These big lifts are lifts such as barbell bench, squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses. Many programs call for a 90 second rest in between these sets instead of the typical 60 second rest. For example, if you were on a chest/back day, your first superset would be a big movement such as barbell bench, supersetted with a big back movement like a row or a simple pull up. After 10 sets of that particular superset, you would go into another superset focusing more on accessory movements. On chest/back day the secondary superset may look something like a cable fly supersetted with a row or pull down movement. Great base or advanced programs for GVT can be found at http://www.strengthsensei.com/german-volume-training-revisited-expanded/.
If you are the type of person who loves writing their own workouts then choosing the movements for your GVT workouts can be a tough thing. That is why using a website like the one above can be beneficial in the beginning of the program until you get the feel of the workouts. There are only 4 movements in a typical base workout so choosing the most impactful movements is key. Many people have tried their own version of GVT and experienced little results. A few articles online question GVT scientific legitimacy, but none of the variables can truly be accounted for. That is why giving a program like this a try is a good idea. It’s better to be humble, and realize that the average lifter does not know as much as people who have devoted time and effort, and through trial and error have come up with some of the best possible programs for bodybuilders. After a bit of trial and error of your own, you may be able to find out what movements your body responds to the best and what supersets work the best for you.
A solid GVT program can be a great thing to start off the new year with. A lot of people tend to lose workout intensity going into the new year, and this type of training is sure to increase output in the gym. It fatigues you more than most traditional bodybuilding style workouts, and the best part is the success people find with it. Every person's body is different, and putting on muscle, as much as it is scientific, can be very different from person to person. Some people are very responsive and some people are hard gainers; however, GVT is one of those styles of training that if done properly will surely provide hypertrophy for most. If you are sick of going in the gym day after day and completing the same mundane bodybuilding workouts and are interested in a challenging, efficient style of training to start off the new year, you need to give GVT a try.