German Volume Training Explained

german training running man

The German Volume Training (GVT) is a highly effective training method. In the 70s it was first used by the German national coach of the weightlifter Rolf Feser – with success.

The extraordinary training methods were used in the off-season and helped some athletes to slide up a weight class in just 12 weeks.

The american Vince Gironda adapted this system in his famous 8×8 protocol.

Even famous coaches advocate of the German Volume Training and recommend it to athletes who want to build muscle mass.

German Volume Training: What is it?

In its original form, the GVT provides 10 sets of 10 repetitions per exercise. Meanwhile, there are many imitations that experiment with repetition numbers and complementary exercises.

The basic idea remains the same: perform basic exercises with a lot of volumes.

The high volume is an extraordinary effort for the body to respond to massive hypertrophy – muscle growth. Three to five kilograms in six weeks are not uncommon. An accompanying high-calorie diet provided.

This is how German Volume Training works

The aim of the German Volume Training is to complete 10 sets of 10 repetitions for each basic exercise, with the same weight in each set.

When you train for the first time on the GVT principle, you should start with a weight that you can lift 20 times. For most people, this is about 60% of the 1 RM. If your maximum weight for an exercise is 100 kg, 60 kg is a good starting point.

This weight is moved cleanly (!) With each repetition. If no further clean repetition is possible, the training set is over.

In the first 5-6 sets, the weight may still feel light. At least from the seventh sentence that will change and the weight feels heavier and heavier.

For each muscle group, exactly one exercise is performed. These exercises are like leg extensions or biceps curls out.

Exercises that build muscle fast are in demand. So:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • Barbell rowing
  • Shoulder Press
  • Pull-ups

These are the go-for exercises. They claim a lot of muscle groups, creating a perfect anabolic environment. So the muscles grow faster than you can say biceps curl.

You will not need isolation exercises. All smaller muscle groups will be adequately helped with the high volume. Your biceps will probably grow even more than before.

What is there to pay attention to in German Volume Training?

GVT is a challenging training method. Beginners should rather avoid it. Advanced athletes benefit greatly and can overcome one or the other plateau.

Since training is a great effort, it is a good idea to try it in a relaxed life phase. If your private life is crashing in all directions, it’s better to avoid it.

You will need every free second to relax. Otherwise, it is wasted time.

Here are some terms and explanations to watch out for during training:

Pause times: the pauses between sets are only 60 to 90 seconds. In the beginning, the sentences will feel light. But the cumulative fatigue and the short breaks will take their toll.

The temptation is great, to extend the break times towards the end of the training.

Resist this urge to get the most out of the GVT. A stopwatch is recommended at this point.

Tempo: Use a pace of 4-0-1-0 for each of the exercises. This means you lower the weight for four seconds, and lift the weight explosively in one second.

Exercises: in each exercise, only one exercise is performed.

Frequency: Each exercise is trained once a week.

Progressive Overload: Once you are able to do 10 sets of 10 reps and keep the pauses, you can increase the weight by 5%. Do not succumb to the temptation to force repetitions or apply other intensity techniques. The volume will do its job.

You can expect to feel the sore muscles of your life. Just five days after my first unit, squats with 10 sets of 10 reps were not my best friends stairs …

Do not run this program for more than four to six weeks. It puts a lot of strain on the body, as mentioned before. After four or six weeks, allow yourself and your body a break or a de-load week – this will support you long term in your goal of building muscle and getting stronger.

This is what German volume training looks like


A variant of the German Volume Training that I prefer personally, each exercise is trained on a day of the week. It trains your lower body twice a week, a push twice a week, and a pull exercise twice a week.

This looks like this, for example:

  • Monday – squats
  • Tuesday – bench press
  • Wednesday – bowed rowing
  • Thursday – deadlift
  • Friday – shoulder press
  • Saturday – chin-ups
  • Sunday – active recovery

That looks simple. It is. But due to the high volume of the body is demanding and reacts with extreme muscle growth – the right diet provided.

If you are considering this exercise plan, as with any exercise plan, it is a good idea to keep a training diary. So you see your progress in black and white. As the weights get heavier week by week, you can be sure your muscles are growing.

Warm yourself up!

The German Volume Training is an extraordinary method that can be used to make massive progress in a short time. It captivates above all by its simplicity.

Basic exercises coupled with high volume guarantee a hypertrophic reaction of the body, which is second to none.

So you can run the German Volume Training injury free, you should pay attention to your warm-up.

Work on your vulnerabilities and activate your central nervous system. That’s the only way you can accelerate and get the most out of the GVT.

You can find out how to do this in the free guide “6 steps to the perfect warm-up”.

In conclusion, the German Volume Training is brutal, intense and highly effective. It can help you overcome a plateau or build amazing amounts of muscle in a short amount of time.

It demands everything from you. But the effort is worthwhile. With hardly any other training system, you can make progress as fast as you can.