German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Learn how to build muscle mass during the off-season with German Volume Training.

Adding supersets and circuits to a training program allows you to perform more reps (i.e., greater volume) to build muscle. However, one training method allows an athlete to overload a movement or muscle group in ways that no other training method can match. That method is called German Volume Training, or GVT.

Originally, German Volume Training was used in several European Olympic training centers, especially in Germany. It was typically used as an off-season hypertrophy (muscle-building) block to help athletes pack on muscle mass. This type of program is strictly for athletes looking to add muscle mass, and is not meant to build strength.

How German Volume Training Works

The program works in a simple fashion. Because it targets a specific movement pattern or muscle group, GVT greatly fatigues your muscles, bringing about extraordinary muscle growth. Your muscles gradually adapt to the stress placed on them, thereby increasing their size.

To implement GVT in your own training program, choose an exercise you are comfortable with, throw out your old set and rep scheme and substitute the GVT set and rep scheme, 10x10.

Ten sets of 10 reps is all you need to incorporate GVT into your program. Begin with a weight you can lift for about 20 reps. If you can Squat 400 pounds for one rep, you would use roughly 240 pounds for GVT.

You need to consider recovery, periodization and overload. Recovery takes a long time because of the extreme stress placed on the targeted muscles, so rest several days between GVT bouts hitting the same muscle group.

RELATED: The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy

Timing of German Volume Training

GVT is best used at the beginning of the off-season. It is not effective while in-season or just before a competition, because it can impair performance. Finally, strive to overload your muscles with every bout of GVT, causing muscle failure or nearly reaching failure at the end of the 10th set.

Here are sample progressions for various level athletes. Use GVT for only one exercise in your workout. Perform the remainder of your workout as you normally would.


  • Monday - Push-Ups: 10x10
  • Tuesday - Leg Extensions: 10x10
  • Thursday - Lat Pulldowns: 10x10
  • Friday - Leg Curls: 10x10


  • Monday - DB Bench Press: 10x10
  • Tuesday - Leg Press: 10x10
  • Thursday - Pull-Ups: 10x10
  • Friday - Romanian Deadlift: 10x10


  • Monday - Bench Press: 10x10 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
  • Tuesday - Back Squat: 10x10 (rest 60 seconds between sets)
  • Thursday - Bent-Over Rows: 10x10 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
  • Friday - Deadlift 10x10: (rest 60 seconds between sets)
Learn more about exercise tempo.

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