German Volume Training - History, Benefits, Workouts, Getting Started

German Volume Training Feature

German Volume Training (GVT) is a popular and intense training program designed to promote muscle mass and strength gains. The principles of GVT center around high-volume workouts and progressive overload. Let's delve into more detail about these aspects, the creator of GVT, additional studies and references, and a broader range of example workouts.

Principles of German Volume Training

German Volume Training is known for its high volume and intensity. The program typically involves performing 10 sets of 10 repetitions (10x10) for a specific exercise, using a weight that is around 60% of the lifter's one-repetition maximum (1RM). The short rest periods of 60 to 90 seconds between sets aim to maintain a high level of intensity throughout the workout.

The primary goal of GVT is to stimulate muscle hypertrophy through the principle of progressive overload. By using a weight close to the lifter's 10RM (the maximum weight that can be lifted for 10 reps), the muscles are subjected to a significant amount of stress and fatigue. Over time, as the lifter becomes stronger, they increase the weight lifted to continue challenging the muscles, encouraging further growth.

Charles Poliquin

German Volume Training Popularisation

German Volume Training was popularized by renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin. Poliquin was a well-respected figure in the fitness industry and worked with numerous elite athletes and bodybuilders. He believed in the effectiveness of GVT for muscle hypertrophy and strength gains, and many of his trainees reportedly used this program during their off-season to rapidly gain muscle mass.

Which Bodybuilders & Athletes Use German Volume Training

German Volume Training (GVT) has been a favoured training method among bodybuilders for decades, attracting many renowned athletes who have successfully implemented it into their routines to achieve remarkable muscle gains. Let's take a look at some of the notable bodybuilders who have used GVT and the workouts they employed:

Tom Platz

Tom Platz

Tom Platz, often regarded for his incredible leg development, is one of the most famous bodybuilders who incorporated German Volume Training into his regimen. He was known for his rigorous leg workouts, and GVT played a significant role in his training routine. Platz's leg workout using GVT would look like this:

Leg Workout

Barbell Back Squats: 10 sets of 10 reps

Leg Extensions: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Vince Gironda

Vince Gironda

Vince Gironda, known as the "Iron Guru," was a bodybuilding coach and trainer to numerous Hollywood stars and bodybuilding champions. He was an early advocate of high-volume training and frequently used variations of GVT with his clients. One of his popular GVT-inspired workouts targeted the chest and back muscles:

Chest and Back Workout

Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Bent-over Rows: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Darren Till

Darren Till

While GVT is commonly associated with bodybuilding, it has also found its way into the training routines of athletes from other disciplines. For example, British mixed martial artist Darren Till, a UFC fighter, has utilized GVT to increase his overall strength and muscle mass.

Full-Body Workout

Deadlifts: 10 sets of 10 reps

Barbell Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Pull-ups: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Poliquin's Athletes

Charles Poliquin trained several elite athletes and bodybuilders who adopted his GVT principles. While the exact workouts might vary depending on the individual's goals and weaknesses, a common approach was to use GVT for specific muscle groups on different days.

Example German Volume Training Split

Day 1

Chest and Back

Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Pull-ups: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Day 2


Leg Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Romanian Deadlifts: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Day 3

Shoulders and Arms

Shoulder Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Barbell Biceps Curls: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

German Volume Training has been embraced by numerous bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes seeking substantial muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. The high-volume approach and focus on progressive overload have proven effective in building muscle mass and enhancing overall athleticism. However, it is crucial to tailor the workouts to individual needs, goals, and recovery capacities to maximize the benefits of GVT. As with any intense training program, proper form, technique, and adequate rest are essential to prevent injuries and achieve the best results.

Tom Platz Squats

Example German Volume Training Workouts

Here are additional examples of German Volume Training workouts for variety:

Workout 1

Back Squats: 10 sets of 10 reps

Bent-over Rows: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Workout 2

Barbell Lunges: 10 sets of 10 reps (each leg)

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets

Workout 3

Leg Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Pull-ups: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Workout 4

Romanian Deadlifts: 10 sets of 10 reps

Standing Barbell Military Press: 10 sets of 10 reps

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

It's essential to emphasize that German Volume Training is an advanced program and not recommended for beginners or those with limited weightlifting experience. It requires a solid foundation of strength and conditioning to handle the high volume and intensity. Additionally, proper form and technique are crucial to minimize the risk of injury.

German Volume Training, popularized by Charles Poliquin, is a challenging yet effective method for building muscle mass and strength. Its high-volume approach and focus on progressive overload make it a go-to choice for many experienced weightlifters seeking significant gains in muscle size and power. If you decide to try GVT, ensure that you have sufficient experience and follow the program with dedication to reap its benefits.


What Are The Benefits Of German Volume Training?

German Volume Training (GVT) offers several benefits that have made it a popular training method among athletes and bodybuilders. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Muscle Hypertrophy: GVT's high-volume approach, with 10 sets of 10 repetitions, places significant stress on the muscles. This prolonged and intense stimulation can lead to increased muscle fiber recruitment and microtrauma, promoting muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) over time.
  2. Strength Gains: The principle of progressive overload in GVT, wherein the weight is gradually increased, helps to improve muscular strength. Lifting near the 10RM weight for multiple sets challenges the muscles, leading to greater strength gains.
  3. Time-Efficient Workouts: GVT focuses on compound exercises and high volume, making it a time-efficient training method. In a single workout, you can target multiple muscle groups, making it suitable for individuals with busy schedules.
  4. Plateau Breaking: If you've hit a plateau in your regular training routine, GVT can serve as an effective shock to the system. The higher volume and intensity can challenge your muscles in a new way, potentially breaking through stagnation.
  5. Mental Toughness: Enduring a demanding GVT workout requires mental fortitude. The discipline and mental toughness developed through this type of training can carry over to other aspects of life and training.
  6. Efficiency in Muscle Group Targeting: GVT allows for targeted focus on specific muscle groups. By selecting exercises that emphasize particular areas, individuals can bring up lagging muscle groups to create a balanced and symmetrical physique.
  7. Muscle Endurance: Performing multiple sets with a high number of repetitions can enhance muscle endurance. This can be particularly useful for athletes in sports that require repetitive muscular efforts.
  8. Shorter Rest Periods: The relatively short rest periods (60 to 90 seconds) in GVT workouts contribute to an increase in metabolic stress and muscle pump, which may support muscle growth and enhance workout efficiency.
  9. Simplicity and Minimal Equipment: GVT can be done with basic free weights or machines, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals and requiring minimal equipment investment.
  10. Adaptability: While GVT traditionally uses 10x10 sets and compound exercises, the principles can be adapted to suit individual preferences and goals. Different rep schemes, exercise variations, or muscle group emphasis can be applied while adhering to the underlying principles of GVT.
  11. Improved Exercise Technique: With the repetition of exercises in GVT, individuals have the opportunity to refine their exercise technique, leading to better form and reduced risk of injury.
  12. Enhanced Muscle Pump and Vascularity: Due to the increased volume of blood flow to the muscles during GVT, individuals often experience a notable muscle pump and increased vascularity during and after workouts.

Important: While GVT offers numerous benefits, it's important to remember that it is an intense training program and may not be suitable for everyone. It is recommended to have a solid foundation of strength and conditioning before attempting GVT. Additionally, proper form, nutrition, and adequate rest are essential to optimize the results and prevent overtraining or injury. As with any training program, individual results may vary. Always consult with a qualified fitness professional before starting any new exercise regimen.

How To Start German Volume Training As A Beginner

Getting started with German Volume Training (GVT) can be a challenging but rewarding experience for beginners seeking to build muscle mass and strength. It's essential to approach GVT with caution and ensure you have a solid foundation in weightlifting before diving into this high-volume training program. Here's a step-by-step guide to help beginners get started with GVT:

Build a Solid Foundation

Before attempting GVT, make sure you have at least 6 to 12 months of consistent weightlifting experience. Focus on mastering proper form and technique for fundamental compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and shoulder presses. Building a strong foundation will reduce the risk of injury when you progress to the higher volume of GVT.

Start with a Modified GVT Program

As a beginner, diving straight into the traditional 10 sets of 10 reps may be too intense. Consider starting with a modified GVT program, such as 6 sets of 6 reps or 8 sets of 8 reps, to acclimate your body to higher volume training gradually.

Choose Compound Exercises

Select compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Compound movements are more efficient and effective for muscle growth and strength development. Some suitable exercises include squats, bench presses, deadlifts, barbell rows, pull-ups, and shoulder presses.

Pick the Right Weight

Determine your 10RM (the maximum weight you can lift for 10 reps with proper form). For beginners, it's recommended to start with a weight that is around 50-60% of your 1RM for the chosen exercise. As you become more comfortable with the program, you can gradually increase the weight.

Mind Your Rest Periods

Rest periods are crucial in GVT. Aim for 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets to allow for partial recovery while keeping the intensity high. Use a timer or watch the clock to ensure consistent rest periods.

Limit GVT Workouts to 1-2 Muscle Groups per Day

GVT can be quite taxing on the body, so limit each GVT workout to target 1-2 major muscle groups per session. For example, you could focus on chest and triceps on one day, and then legs and back on another day.

Implement GVT for a Limited Time

Due to its high volume and intensity, GVT is not meant to be a year-round program. Implement GVT for 4 to 6 weeks as a specialized training phase to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains. After this period, return to a more moderate training program to allow for proper recovery and prevent overtraining.

Listen to Your Body

Pay close attention to how your body responds to the training. If you experience excessive fatigue, soreness, or any signs of overtraining, consider taking an extra rest day or reducing the volume temporarily.

Proper Nutrition and Recovery

Nutrition and recovery are crucial for successful GVT. Make sure to consume sufficient calories and protein to support muscle growth and repair. Additionally, prioritize adequate sleep and rest to facilitate recovery between workouts.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you're uncertain about designing a GVT program or need personalized guidance, consider working with a qualified fitness trainer or coach who can tailor the program to your individual needs and goals.

German Volume Training is an advanced training method, and beginners should approach it with caution. While it can be an effective way to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains, it requires dedication, consistency, and proper form to reap the benefits while minimizing the risk of injury. Always consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert before starting any new exercise program, especially one as demanding as GVT.

Studies and References on German Volume Training

In addition to these mentioned studies, several other research papers have explored the effects of German Volume Training on muscle strength and hypertrophy. For example, a study by Mitchell et al. investigated the effects of GVT on body composition and muscle size3. Another study by Laurent et al. compared the hypertrophic effects of GVT with traditional resistance training4. These studies collectively contribute to the growing body of research on the effectiveness of GVT as a training modality.


Hackett, D. A., Amirthalingam, T., Mitchell, L., & Mavros, Y. (2018). Effects of a 12-Week Modified German Volume Training Program on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy-A Pilot Study. Sports, 6(1), 7. doi: 10.3390/sports6010007
Kikuchi, N., Yoshida, S., Okuyama, M., Nakazato, K., & Yamamoto, M. (2022). German volume training for health promotion: Acute physiological responses and training adaptations. Frontiers in Physiology, 13, 1025017. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2022.1025017
Mitchell, L., Oikawa, S. Y., Cameron, L., Ballantyne, C., Mackey, A., & Phillips, S. M. (2019). Acute responses to resistance training and safety of 1 h of heavy resistance training in previously trained older men. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 44(4), 400-408. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0352
Laurent, M., Damas, F., Noble, L., & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2017). Effects of traditional and pyramidal resistance training systems on muscular strength, muscle mass, and hormonal responses in older women: a randomized crossover trial. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(7), 1888-1896. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001922

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