German Volume Training, Evolved
If you were tough enough to try GVT, you’ll love this version. It’s got pauses, slow eccentrics, and other fun torture. Check out the plan.
German Volume Training (10 sets of 10 reps) has been around since the 1970s. The great results (for those that survive it) are largely a product of accumulated muscle fiber fatigue during sets 6 to 10.
Other coaches have presented unique approaches to GVT by increasing the intensity and reducing the number of reps. But is there a way we can adhere to the 10x10 method and make all 10 sets effective, or at least less mind-numbing? I think so.
This particular 10x10 method applies extended eccentrics (slower negatives), pause reps, and traditional controlled “depth” reps. Think of it as combining traditional GVT (using the same weight over 10 sets) with a mechanical drop set: starting with the hardest variation and working your way down to the easiest as fatigue kicks in.
Here’s What a Workout for One Big Lift Would Look Like
Use the same weight – about 50% of your 1-rep max for the focus lift – for all 10 sets. Rest about a minute between sets.
1. Start with accentuated eccentric reps
Sets 1-3: 10 reps with a 5-second eccentric/negative
2. Now move to normal reps but with a solid pause at the bottom of each
Sets 4-6: 10 reps with a pause at the bottom
3. Finish with traditional controlled “depth” reps (greater depth than 90 degrees if possible)
Sets 7-10: 10 regular reps with a controlled tempo
How Do You Plan This?
GVT is already pretty exhausting. The eccentric and pause reps in this more demanding version provide an even greater muscle-building, fatigue-inducing response. It turns what used to be 4 effective sets into 10 effective sets.
That’s hugely demanding on the body, so four workouts per week are plenty. Give yourself 48 hours between workouts so they land on different (non-consecutive) days of the week.
Workout scheduling example:
- Workout 1: Monday
- Workout 2: Wednesday
- Workout 3: Friday
- Workout 4: Sunday
- Workout 1: Tuesday
- Workout 2: Thursday
- Workout 3: Saturday
- Workout 4: Monday
Repeat until you’ve completed each workout 4 times.
What About Intensity?
For traditional 10x10 GVT training, intensity is usually around 60-65% of your 1RM. With this version, use less intensity (50%), which accounts for the greater time under tension in the accentuated eccentric and pause sets.
A Sample Program
Start your workout with the focus lift. You’ll rotate through the squat, deadlift, bench press, and row. Only the focus lift receives the 10x10 treatment.
Then do accessory exercises during each workout to hit muscle groups unrelated to the primary 10x10 exercise. This allows you to use slightly more frequency on each major muscle group throughout the week and mitigate the stress response to the primary muscle group worked.
WORKOUT 1: GVT SQUAT FOCUS
|A.||Barbell Back Squat (use 50% 1RM)||10||10||1 min.|
|B.||Barbell Hip Thrust||3||15||90 sec.|
|C.||Band Pull-Aparts||2||12||75 sec.|
WORKOUT 2: GVT DEADLIFT FOCUS
|A.||Trap Bar or Conventional Deadlift (use 50% 1RM)||10||10||1 min.|
|C.||Sissy Squat||2||15-20||1 min.|
WORKOUT 3: GVT BENCH PRESS FOCUS
|A.||Bench Press (use 50% 1RM)||10||10||1 min.|
|B.||Seated Low-Cable Row||3||15||45 sec.|
WORKOUT 4: GVT ROW FOCUS
|A.||Barbell Chest-Supported Row or Seal Row (use 50% 1RM)||10||10||1 min.|
|B.||Dumbbell Lateral Raise||3||12-15||1 min.|
|C.||Hand Release Push-Up||3||3||90 sec.|
What About Progression?
Once you’re able to use one consistent weight for all 10 sets of 10 reps, add 5% to the bar.
Let’s say you started squatting 185 pounds for 10 sets of 10 reps, which would equate to 18,500 pounds lifted. If by the third week you’re using 215 pounds, you’d have made a jump of 3000 pounds lifted in one workout. That’s a huge volume increase regarding work capacity improvements and muscle and strength signaling.
What About Fueling?
Consume ample calories around your workouts. A 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio post-workout is ideal. A 2:1 carb-to-protein intake 90 minutes before your workout is recommended. Include an intra-workout drink to fight fatigue.
One Last Thing
GVT isn’t optimal for most people, largely because it’s pretty damn demanding on the CNS. But maybe you’re not most like people. If it’s the right fit for you, it’ll be a great mental and physical challenge worth pursuing.