The German Volume Training Program

If you’re looking to build muscle and get yourself in the best shape of your life then you obviously won’t need us to tell you how difficult and physically demanding the entire process actually is.

It can take years to really pack on lean good quality muscle mass, and it can take just weeks to lose these gains. Worse still, if you’re diet and training program isn’t exactly spot on, then you simply won’t be making the progress in the gym that you should be, no matter how hard or intensely you may be working out.

Every single body is different and some respond better to certain training methods than others, but generally speaking, if you want to bulk up, lose fat, and increase your strength in the process, then you’ll need to ensure that you’re training in the best possible way.

One training program that has received a great deal of attention, much of it for all of the right reasons, is one known as GVT, or German Volume Training. It is being described as the best old way of building strength and mass, with a number of IFBB pro bodybuilders and other athletes swearing by it. For that reason, here’s a more detailed look at GVT and how it could benefit you.

What exactly is German Volume Training? 

German volume training ( or GVT ) is a method of training that is sometimes referred to as the “10 sets method”. It is believed to have originated in Germany back in the 70’s and was brought into the attention of the public by the then National Coach of Weightlifting, a man named Rolf Feser.

German volume training method was used primarily by bodybuilders and weight lifters during the off-season, to pack on as much muscle mass as they possibly could.

Not surprisingly then the idea here is to perform 10 sets of one exercise per body part. Yes, you did read that right, the basic idea is to perform just ONE exercise per body part that you’re training. So if you’re training chest and back for example, you could go with 10 sets of bench press, followed by 10 sets of chin ups.

German volume training basic principles

GVT works by targeting a number of motor units within the body, and putting them through an extensive volume and amount of repeated exercise, specifically the 10 sets per body part that we mentioned previously. As the body is placed under an unusual amount of stress that it isn’t used to, it quickly adapts by causing the target muscle fibers to hypertrophy, which can and will lead to much more muscle mass.

The basic goals and targets of this training method are to complete 10 sets of 10 repetitions per body part, using the exact same weight for every set. You should ideally begin with a weight that you can complete around 20 repetitions with normally, which typically represents 60% of their one rep max for most people. So, say you can bench 300 pounds, you’d go with around 180 pounds for this exercise. You’d then complete 10 sets of 10 reps on the bench press, resting for around 60 – 90 seconds in-between sets.

It’s important to rest for the exact same amount of time between each set, no matter how tired you may be. As you fatigue you will be tempted to lengthen the amount of time between sets, but you must resist the urge and battle through. Also the key is to choose the “biggest bang for the buck” exercises, which means you should choose compound movements such as bench press, shoulder press, squats, rows etc.

What about rest? – Make no mistake about it, on paper the german volume training routine looks pretty easy. In reality however, when you’re pushing the weight and are soaking in sweat as your muscles feel like they’re on fire, it’s a whole different story. It is an extremely intense training program and for that reason the body requires longer to recover. For that reason, one training session per body part every 4 – 5 days or so is considered ideal.

As time goes by, you’ll obviously get better at the exercises you do, once this is the case, you can increase the weight you’re using by around 5% and repeat the process all over again.

German volume training split and plan

Like we said, you should choose big compound movements in order to get good results. You will mix exercises that hit opposite muscle groups :

Day 1Chest and Back
Day 2 – Rest
Day 3Legs and Abs
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5Shoulders and Arms
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Rest

The Exercises

Day 1
Chest and Back
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Bench Press  10  10  90 sec
 Chin Ups (Palms towards face)  10  10  90 sec
 Pec Dec or Incline Flyes  3  10-12  60 sec
 One Arm Dumbbell Rows  3  10-12  60 sec


Day 3
Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Squats  10  10  90 sec
 Leg Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Weighted Sit Up  3  15-20  60 sec
 Calf Raises  3  15-20  60 sec


Day 5
Arms and Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Dips  10  10  90 sec
 Dumbbell Curls  10  10  90 sec
 Dumbbell Lateral Raise  3  10-12  60 sec
 Bent Over Reverse Laterals  3  10-12  60 sec

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