German Volume Training

This method of training has it’s roots dating to the 1970’s in German speaking countries, hence German Volume Training.  The method is a great way to break through a plateau, which almost all lifters will face at one time or another.  In some circles, it is referred to as the “ten sets method” because of the nature of the routine.

Originally this was used by weightlifters in the off-season to gain lean muscle mass.  This development was so efficient, lifters would often move up an entire weight class in just 3 months of training.  Straight muscle gains of 10 pounds or more in 8 weeks are not unheard of.

This program is effective for a couple of reasons.  First, it shocks and confuses muscles as they most likely to have never experienced a stimulus such as this.  Second, it targets a group of motor units, and exposes them to repeated and exhaustive efforts, specifically, 10 sets of 10 reps, of a single exercise.  In order to adapt, the body must hypertrophy the fibers being worked.  Saying this routine adds muscle quick is a bit of an understatement.  Even the most accomplished weight lifters will realize impressive gains.

The goal is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight.  A good guideline is to pick a weight you could do 20 reps to failure if you had to.  For the majority of people, that would represent 60% of their max on a particular exercise.  As an example, if you can squat 200 pounds, you would use 120 pounds for this exercise.  Something to keep in mind; use compound movements whenever possible during your training days (bench press, squats, clean and press) and stay away from the isolating moves (tricep kick back, concentration curl, leg extension).

An example routine would look like this:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Chest & Back Legs & Abs Off Arms & Shoulders Off

Chest/Back Day:

Bench Press 10×10, rest 90 seconds between sets

Wide grip Pull-ups 10×10, rest 90 seconds between sets

Incline Dumbbell Flys 3×10, rest 60 seconds between sets

One-arm Dumbbell Rows 3×10, rest 60 seconds between sets

For an entire German Volume Training routine with multiple variables, check in May.


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