Insider Secrets of German Volume Training

The Poliquin Principles.


Unquestionably, one of the most popular workouts for packing on a lot of muscle mass quickly is German Volume Training (GVT). Gains of five pounds of solid muscle are often seen in as little as three weeks. Many articles have been written about this workout, but as with the kid’s game of “operator,” sometimes the details get lost in translation.

GVT works by targeting a group of motor units (nerves that cause a specifc group of muscle fibers to contract) and subjecting them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts. Specifcally, 10 sets of 10 reps of a single exercise. The body adapts to this extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers.

The following is a sample GVT workout within a month-long program that involves performing each training session a total of six times. Although supplementary work can be performed for the same muscle group, only two exercises in each workout are performed for 10 sets of 10 reps. Any additional work could easily push you into overtraining.

German Volume Training goes beyond being a challenging workout physically; mentally, the sheer volume of the work can eventually make you dread going to the gym. After a GVT training cycle you’ll need a break—a long break. A good training plan would be to perform GVT for just one month, once a year or, at the most, twice a year.

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With that background, let’s take a look at some of the mistaken ideas associated with GVT, along with a few insider tips on how to get the most from this workout.

First, some bodybuilders believe that GVT is simply a slight variation of Vince Gironda’s 8x8 workout. It’s not. One of the major differences is that there’s more rest time between sets in GVT, making it possible to use more weight for each exercise and thus build more muscle mass.

Although GVT doesn’t produce a high level of growth hormone release, it’s not as effective in the short term for reducing body fat as other programs, such as the German Body Comp program. However because GVT is a superior method of increasing muscle mass, it will more effectively raise your metabolism (i.e., the rate at which you burn calories). I’ve found that for every pound of lean tissue gained on GVT, there is often a loss of an equal amount of fat weight—this is especially true with women.

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