Workout Plans
  • Goal: Hypertrophy, Burn Fat, Increase Strength
  • Skill level: Advanced
  • Duration: 1 Week
  • Days per week: 4
  • Type: Strength Training
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Our resident GVT expert shares a great way to mix up this classic technique.

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Today I'll attempt to make a bodybuilding staple better and more effective. I am talking about German Volume Training, or GVT. GVT was brought to us from my native country via Charles Poliquin and the program has stood the test of time. In the traditional sense, GVT is broken up as follows: You perform 10 sets of 10 reps of opposing muscle groups. I'll use the chest and back workout as an example:

  • A1 10 sets incline bench press
  • A2 10 x10 rows

You take about 90 seconds after each set of bench press before doing a set of rows and so on until you finish all 20 sets.

GVT is an excellent way of losing fat and building muscle. the 10 x10 setup is highly effective for the less-than-gifted, it makes for greater muscle activation and is a fantastic way to increase your work capacity. So what is wrong with that?

Problems With GVT

Most trainees never finish a cycle of GVT because they are either burned out or injured. The main issue I have with GVT is that it is fatiguing, both mentally and physically (boring too). It probably fits with my countrymen's ability as a people to trudge and endure (OK, maybe that's a stretch, but you get the idea). I love bodybuilding and training as much as any one, but the idea of doing 10 sets of the same thing puts me too sleep. By the same token, I feel that for that particular reason, the programs actually lose effectiveness as people simply do not work as hard.

So while doing some research I tried to see what could be done better and the answer is a lot and very little at he same time. You see, change for the sake of change is pointless so we'll have to go at it strategically. What I like is the set up of doing a modified superset set up, since it enables you to lift heavy without wasting 3-4 minutes on rest. The 10 itself sets are fine but the output lessens too much, meaning the amount of "garbage reps is quite high, if you are doing the same thing all over. Another issue I and others have with the original program is that you lose strength on it since you are training within the 70-75% for too long, without ever stimulating the 85%+ range. The main factor here is again neurological overload due to the monotony. The third problem is that GVT is injury prone due to the high number of reps that occur from the same angle toward the joint.

My Solution

  1. We need to add some power sets in the beginning to keep or even add strength through the program.

  2. Furthermore, we'll train the muscle from different angles within the same motion via different exercises. The way I set it up is to train the muscle from the insertion for 4 sets and then 4 sets from the origin. 

  3.  Finally, I added a pump component to the end to take advantage of cell volumization and maximize muscle fatigue , thereby laying the foundation for muscle growth. 

I re-wrote the program by breaking into two main components, power and hypertrophy, while keeping the A1/A2 setup. You'll still do one set of A1, rest about 90 seconds before moving to A2. Once you get to B1/B2, rest only 60 seconds in between sets, the C part is a straight super set. 

The Nutrition

Since this is a very intense and relatively long (70 minutes ) workout , I think we should take a look at pre and post workout nutrition. Here is how I usually split up my pre and post workout carbs. Take your planned number of sets (excluding warm up sets) x 2.5= your pre or intra workout carb number, in this case 2.5 x 20 = 50 grams. I add some more carbs if I train legs or back but usually I end up around 50 grams. Additionally, I consume 30-40 grams of whey with that meal. Post workout: anywhere from 50-70 grams of carbs depending on how close you trained to failure. 

Disclaimer: The above outline will only work if you fit the carbs within your marcos, so do not use this article as carte blanche to eat all the carbs you want. 

Give this newer version of GVT a try. You will not be disappointed.

GVT 2.0 Repeat Weekly