T Nation

Intro and Questions: German Volume Training for Beginners

Hey there, I’ve been interested in getting back into lifting for awhile now, it won’t happen for a few months due to work and home priorities but I’d like to crystalize my plan ahead of time.

I’m 5’4, female, and I’ll be 35 tomorrow.

I’m still pretty novice at lifting - I did Rippetoe back in 2012 with some guys from work, but I didn’t make an adequate diet plan and that meant I didn’t see the progress I wanted, which was discouraging. I still stayed active though: I commute everywhere by bicycle and I muck around with the pull-up bar at home.

In 2017 I let an unemployed friend live with me, and the experience of having a morbidly obese, unmotivated, irredeemable slob in my living room for four months kicked me back into a real fitness mindset.

I cut from 131 to under 110 for funsies and to start learning how to plan and track a diet. (Back to 116 now after having a few months being more relaxed before starting to pay attention again.) I spent a lot of time on the Erg at my gym, and I did a little of one of Nia Shanks’ “Lift Like A Girl” dumbbell programs, but had some family members’ medical issues cut back drastically on my leisure time and I was unable to prioritize the gym. Lately I’ve just been doing yoga and bodyweight training at home along with Couch to 5K before work.

I liked doing the Rippetoe program, and I’ve found enough resources to keep me on track with diet, so I came back here to poke around a bit, and stumbled across Coach Thibaudeau’s neurotyping articles. I’m very impressed, everything he describes about Type 3 fits me to a ‘T’, and while reading his articles I became interested in German Volume Training.

Cutting weight for fun after living with the nasty roommate got me all sorts of comments from people at work (but for some reason just the fat people at work…) going, “You’ve lost sooooo much weight, are you sick?!” I always deflected it with a joke, going, “Sure, yeah, see first I’ll cut, then I’ll BULK,” and they would chuckle with me and leave me alone after that. Thing is, I’d love to really bulk. I look mostly lean now, but I’m a massive nerd and I’ve always wanted to go to a comic convention as She-Hulk, lol.

Looking through several articles on GVT I’ve made some modifications based on my skill level, gym limitations, and my available leisure time, and with the recommendations Coach Thibaudeau has for training as a Type 3.

I’m planning a 3-day split, with 1-2 rest days between them depending on work/family schedule (my life outside of work can be accurately summarized as “single mom with a farm”, and sadly my gym has a Smith machine but no free barbell rack, and is closed on Sundays), and I’m not planning to do supersets, as the Nia Shanks program taught me I really don’t handle those well. I need to focus totally on executing one movement at a time.

Chest & Back day:
Wide Row 4x12
Dumbbell Flys 4x12
Lat Pulldown 10x10
Incline Dumbbell Press 10x10

Leg day:
Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise 4x12
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 4x12
(Smith Machine) Barbell Squat 10x10

Arm and Shoulder day:
Tricep Dips 4x12
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 10x10
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 10x10

What suggestions would yo make for this plan? Do you see any glaring oversights in muscle groups? I tried to stick to movements I am familiar enough with as a beginner to be confident in doing them properly, so I pulled a combination from both Charles Poliquin’s article and Lee Boyce’s article here, and I’m hoping I can say these will result in short yet still effective workouts. Please let me know any insights you would like to share.

I still need to look into the right way of finding my 1RM so I can calculate the appropriate weights for these lifts, too. I know I’m still a novice - I may be the only woman at work who can do five chinups, but I know that’s still feeble for this site.

I also need to look into diet a little more. I won’t have any problem hitting a high protein total with pea protein, powdered peanut butter, and vital wheat gluten, but I’m honestly worried about hitting the right window of enough calories to build muscle without storing an ass full of fat. Ugh.

Anyway thanks for reading. Looking forward to trying this out probably after I finish C25K in 4 weeks.

1 Like

First of all congratulations on making a comeback to lifting! It will definitely be a positive for you going forward. Not having a barbell is an obvious limitation but not the end of the world. After reading your post I would advise taking a look at some of the full body and upper/lower routines on this site. German volume training is likely unnecessary. Finding one that interests you that is based around compound moves will
do the trick. In terms of diet I would also look into reading many of the articles on tnation. I do believe there are several geared toward women specifically that could help. Best of luck.

1 Like

Honestly, my suggestion would be to scrap it. “GVT” and beginners" don’t belong in the same sentence. And the program you Frankensteined together is pretty far from GVT.

There are tons of programs you can use to put on muscle, and you can attack a legit GVT program a while down the road once you’ve established a better base. I’d go for any of the programs explained here. After 8-12 weeks, you can consider switching things up.

Are you vegan?

It sounds like you have a fairly high general activity level outside the gym, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned with packing on fat, but you do need to get some quality protein sources - peanut butter and gluten ain’t it. If you have to stay strict vegan, pea and rice proteins are better options. If you can go lacto-ovo vegetarian, that opens up a ton of more effective options.

Also, I have a feeling you and @ChickenLittle are in a similar boat, lifting, killing rattlesnakes on the farm, and whatnot. Take a look at her training log to also get some ideas.


Lol, thank you, I was sort of afraid of that, haha.

I am vegan, yes, and thanks too for the recs for rice protein and that training log. Much appreciated!

I gotcha. Thank you kindly for the suggestion.

Lol! My log is probably the best example of… what not to do! But, I keep gnawing on it.

1 Like

Your program is basically what I have my wife do

She doesn’t like to lift heavy without me, so she does 40-50% at 10x10 with short rest periods and tries do it under 10 minutes.

It’s also like the “I lift faster” for cardio.

@SOUL_FIGHTER Oh interesting. What sort of results has she gotten? How long was she lifting before that?

Just squat and bench or OHP on the same day to make it 3 days instead of 4.

1 Like

She wasn’t lifting long before that. She did a summer of powerlifting with me when she was off from school, and mostly running and BodyPump before that.

THe 10x10 wasn’t bad at all. Her barbell deadlifts were 155x2 over the summer, and she did nothing but 10x10 in the fall. When she visited during winter break, she did an easy 200x1 on the Trap bar with no deadlift training/peaking (aside from dumbbell RDL).

She likes it because it makes her feel like she’s training, as opposed to when she’s doing 5 rep sets.

I tried to get her into doing 5/3/1 but it wasn’t working. Probably this summer. I think the 10x10 works for her because its quick and she can get a good stimulus from light weight.