Today, I’d like to introduce you to the latest program I hopped on after The Winter Bulk Up Finale: German Volume Training.
I didn’t want to delve back into strength training quite yet and was still feeling high off the progress from the bulk up, so I figured why not keep riding the volume training bandwagon for a little longer. After reading around a bit, seeing Arnold used to mix in German Volume Training every now and then, and then coming onto this article from Charles Poliquin about GVT, I couldn’t resist.
The premise of GVT is actually pretty simple- 10 sets of 10 reps, 3 days a week, targeting each part of the body on separate days for a full body shred out by the end of the week. The focus is primarily on maximizing hypertrophy through emphasis on tempo, volume, and short rest periods, working the eccentric (generally, downward) movement of each rep followed by solid contractions.
Refresher: If you remember from Muscle Soreness Is Good For You the eccentric movement is most responsible for building muscle, and if you want more to munch on check this article by Poliquin or this video by Kai Greene .
This means, most of all, before you even begin, you really gotta check your ego at the door. Getting through 100 reps of any lift is going to require you to drop down significant weight, but getting through 100 reps on a strict rest time structure with focus on flawless form and tempo is really humbling if you base your esteem on how many plates you put on the bar. It’s recommended you start with 60% of your 1 rep max (max calculator here). Remember Nate’s Just Now Enumerated Rule #1: Nobody at the gym gives a shit how much you are lifting. Watch the Kai Greene video again.
So what do I mean by tempo? This seems to be something a lot of people get caught up on. Tempo is the rate at which you lower, hold, raise, and then hold the weight. A tempo of 4020 would be 4 seconds moving weight down (eccentric), 0 seconds holding it down (so not holding it at all), 2 seconds moving it up, and then 0 seconds holding it up (so moving onto eccentric right away). A common tempo for GVT is 40X0, and the X is best understood as “explode”. With a 40X0 your eccentric is 4 seconds and then boom, contracting up. Make no mistake, 4 seconds is fucking hard.
Now, you will need a stopwatch for this. If you remember from Understanding Rest Times Between Sets, hypertrophy training relies on less, not more, rest time between sets even though you have more reps. GVT will push you hard with the tempo and short rest periods.
Moving on, let’s take a look at what a GVT Routine might look like. I didn’t have any issues from Poliquin’s sample, other than swapping decline to flat bench, so I used it (for a better visual, check the article link above)
Day 1 Chest/Back
- Flat Dumbbell Bench supersetted with Chin Ups. 10×10. Tempo: 40X0. Rest time: 90 seconds between each set. So you’re going Bench, rest 90 seconds, Chin Ups, rest 90 sec, back to Bench, 90 seconds, etc… No bonus rest.
- Incline Flies supersetted with One Armed Rows. 3×10. Tempo: 3020. Rest time: 60 seconds.
Day 2 Legs/Abs
- Back Squats supersetted with Leg Curls. 10×10. Tempo: 4020 for squat, 40X0 for leg curls. 90 seconds rest.
- Low Cable Pull Ins supersetted with Calf Raises. 3×10. Tempo: 2020. 60 seconds rest.
Day 4 Arms/Shoulders
- Weighted Dips supersetted with Incline Hammer Curls. 10×10. Tempo: 40X0. 90 seconds rest.
- Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise supersetted with Seated Side Raise. 3×12. Tempo: 20X0. 6o seconds.
Start all over. Do six 5 day sessions total. Chill out after this phase with a maintenance style program for 3 weeks, then start 10×6.
In review, I really enjoyed GVT. It is brutal, but then again I like brutal. You will be fucking sore during that first week, and probably into the second week. I can’t stress enough how important stowing your ego is because the emphasis on tempo- that’s where your mass gains are going to come from. The first week I really didn’t anticipate how hard keeping the tempo would be, and couldn’t even complete my sixth set at 85lb dumbbells on flat bench (my bench max is 295, 60% of that is 177, so I thought I was being charitable starting with 85s knowing dumbbell bench is harder!) I had to drop down to 75s before working my way up to 80s, which I completed by the final week.
While Poliquin maintains you can get up to 10 lbs of lean muscle from GVT, it is very likely I did not get *that* much. First, I was already volume training to the change up wasn’t huge. Secondly, I started to cut, albeit a slow cut, by going back to an 8 hour intermittent fasting window and winding down my carbs a bit. However, despite going down from 202 at the end of the winter bulk up finale to 196 by the end of GVT phase 1, I am looking bigger. I’m excited to see how much lean muscle I gained through the bulk up and GVT once I can cut body fat down to 10% again. If I come out around 186 (4 lbs gain at 10% body fat over the last 5 months) that would be cool, but the way I’m looking at 196 has me real stoked I could be as high as 188 or higher by the time I get to 10% body fat. We’ll bust out some progress pics when that time comes.
Verdict: If you have been strength training for awhile, this is going to be something you really want to consider doing to get some great size gains. I enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to doing the 10×6 phase two. I only wish I would have done this during the bulk up, but there is always next time.