One of the most popular workouts to pack on muscle mass quickly is the German Volume Training (GVT) program. Many articles have been written about this program, but we still get questions about how to implement it. Here are the answers to the most common questions we’ve received about this amazing mass builder.
Q: How does the GVT work?
A: The German Volume Training program works by targeting a group of motor units, exposing them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts, specifically 10 sets of a single exercise. The body adapts to this extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers.
Q: What kind of muscle mass gains can be expected with GVT?
A: GVT builds muscle fast: In males, gains of 5 pounds of muscle in three weeks is not uncommon.
Q: What is the difference between German Body Comp training and GVT?
A: GVT is associated with increasing muscle mass and German Body Comp (GBC) with fat loss. The GBC program is characterized by short rest intervals and multi-joint movements to generate maximum growth-hormone production. Higher growth hormone levels increase fat loss. GBC will produce some increase in muscle mass, but not to the same degree as GVT.
Q: Is GVT as effective as the German Body Comp program for losing bodyfat?
A: GVT does not produce the same level of growth hormone release as the GBC program, so is not as effective in the short term for reducing bodyfat. The trade-off is that because GVT is a superior method of increasing muscles mass, it will more effectively raise one’s metabolism (i.e., the rate at which you burn calories).
Q: Can GVT be used in an intensification phase of training?
A: GVT is associated with increasing muscle mass by performing a high volume of work, so it belongs in an accumulation phase.
Q: Can you use the Olympic lifts with GVT?
A: No. First, it would be difficult to maintain proper form in these complex exercises using such high repetitions. Second, the time under tension for the Olympic lifts and their assistance exercises is too short to create maximal gains in hypertrophy.
Q: Olympic weightlifting coach Pierre Roy used the GVT to increase the muscle mass of his weightlifters. Is GVT a useful program for Olympic lifters?
A: Pierre Roy used the program to quickly increase the muscle mass of his weightlifters to move them into a higher bodyweight class. However, GVT is not an effective training method to improve performance in this sport.
Q: Can GVT be considered a form of functional hypertrophy?
A: Functional hypertrophy is muscle growth that is strategic so that it grows your muscles in a way that will improve physical performance. GVT can improve sports performance in sports where a high level of muscle mass is a factor, such as the case with a football lineman, but its loading parameters are such that it should not be considered functional hypertrophy training.
Q: Other than football linemen, what sports applications does the GVT have?
A: Consider wrestling. Let’s say a high school freshman weighs 155 pounds at a height of six feet, and would probably be wrestling at 195 pounds in his senior year. If this athlete would try to add 10 pounds of muscle a year, the result is that this athlete would have less than a year to get accustomed to wrestling at this optimal bodyweight. Instead, this athlete could use GVT and move up to 195 pounds sooner, thus giving him more time to become accustomed to performing at this heavier bodyweight.
Q: Is GVT the same as Vince Gironda’s 8x8 workout but with more reps and sets?
A: No, the time under tension is shorter with the 8x8 program as are the rest intervals, and as such it is not as effective for building muscle mass as GVT. Gironda’s 8x8 workout could be considered a hybrid of GVT and GBC.
Q: Can machine exercises be used for GVT?
A: Machine exercises should be avoided because they do not have the same effects from a total body training perspective due to their increased stability. Performing 10x10 of leg presses is certainly difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as squats.
Q: Is GVT appropriate for women who want to lose fat weight?
A: Yes. Often women find that for every pound of lean tissue they gain, they will lose an equal amount of fat weight. When you also consider that behind every feminine curve is a muscle, it’s a win-win deal.
Q: Are there other benefits for women using GVT?
A: Many beginning-level bodybuilding programs contain a lot of isolation-type exercises, such as triceps pressdowns and barbell biceps curls. Many beginning-level women trainees do not like the “pump” that is associated with such exercises. Multi-joint exercises such as squats and deadlifts are certainly difficult, but generally will not result in the same level of discomfort (from a pump) because the effort is spread among different muscles.
Q: Can you perform the GVT year-round?
A: No, it is designed to be used once a year.
Q: When do you increase the weight in a GVT Program?
A: You only increase the weight once all ten sets are completed with the pre-determined starting weight. The load used is submaximal -- you do not try to reach failure on all sets; only the last three sets should be hard. Basically you get the training effect from the law of repeated efforts. Once you are able to do complete 10 sets of 10 reps, you would increase the weight by 2 1/2 to 5 percent.
Q: What is the training frequency for each body part in GVT?
A: Work each body part every 5 days.
A: What is the tempo prescription for each exercise?
Q: As a general guideline, for long-range movements such as squats, dips, and chins, use a 40X0 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift explosively for the concentric portion. For short-range movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 30X0 tempo.
Q: How many exercises per bodypart should be performed per workout?
A: One, and only one, exercise per body part should be performed.
Q: What type of exercises should be performed?
A: Select exercises that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Triceps kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely out -- squats and bench presses are definitely in.
Q: Can forced reps be used with GVT?
A: No – the reps should be performed without any outside assistance.
Q: What is the major difference between GVT and Advanced GVT?
A: The Advanced German Volume Training Program uses sets of 6 reps instead of the 10 reps prescribed in the German Volume Training program.
Q: Why does the Advanced GVT use lower reps?
A: Because advanced trainees have better neurological efficiency. Neurological efficiency refers to how effectively an individual recruits their higher-threshold muscle fibers. If an individual is neurologically inefficient, they will respond better to the 80 percent load because they cannot effectively recruit the higher-threshold muscle fibers to help them lift the weight.
A: Who should use the Advanced GVT?
Q: The Advanced GVT Program is designed for trainees who have at least five years of training experience.
If you have not achieved great results in the GVT program, review these answers and the articles about this training method to get back on track. The German Volume Training program is one of the most difficult workout programs you will ever perform, but the results are worth it.