With this series on how to build muscle and strength, you will learn which program is right for you, what to eat and how to reach your athletic goals: welcome to German Volume Training. 

The first vital point is nutrition. Without a solid nutritional base you will not see results, no matter how hard you train. 

20 Super Healthy Foods to Help You Gain Muscle

HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE AND STRENGTH: GERMAN VOLUME TRAINING

German Volume Training is a tried and tested method that many successful athletes have used to pack on mass and muscle. As it involves a large amount of volume, it can also be a great way to improve your strength under fatigue, a useful skill to transfer over into CrossFit®. 

german volume training how to build muscle

HOW IT WORKS

The core of German volume training is 10 sets of 10 reps for a single body part per workout. Plus accessory work. Rest is vital as this is an intensive program.

  • Day 1: Chest and back
  • Day 2: Legs and Abs
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
  • Day 5: Off

“The program works because it targets 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 the extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers. To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement – gains of ten pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon – even in experienced lifters!” Coach Charles R. Poliquin

Weight

You want to begin with a weight you could lift for 20 reps to failure if you had to. For most people, on most exercises, that would represent 60% of their 1RM load.

Once you’re able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by 4% to 5%, and repeat the process.

Rest Periods

Rest for 60 – 90 seconds between sets. 

SAMPLE WORKOUTS

Chest and Back

  • Barbell bench press 10 x 10 (rest 90)
  • Pull ups or barbell rows 10 x 10 (rest 90)
  • DB flys 3 x 12 (rest 60)
  • One arm DB rows 3 x 12 (rest 60)

Legs and Abs

  • Back squat 10 x 10 (rest 90)
  • Lying leg curls 10 x 10 (rest 90)
  • Seated Calf raise 3 x 10 (rest 60)
  • Strict toes to bar / hanging leg raises 3 x 10 (rest 60)

Arms and Shoulders

  • Close grip bench press 10 x 6 (rest 90)
  • Incline DB Curls 10 x 6 (rest 90)
  • Seated lat raises 3 x 10 (rest 60)
  • DB Shoulder press 3 x 10 (rest 60) 

For a further breakdown on how to introduce phases and cycles into your German Volume Training based on your athletic ability and training age, check out this excellent article by Charles Poliquin. 

THE HISTORY OF GERMAN VOLUME TRAINING

“In strength-coaching circles, this method is often called the “ten sets method.” Because it has its roots in both former Germanies, I like to call it German Volume Training. To the best of my knowledge, this training system originated in Germany in the mid-’70’s and was popularized by Rolf Feser, who was then the National Coach of Weightlifting. A similar protocol was promoted by Vince Gironda in the U.S., but regardless of who actually invented it, it works.”

“In Germany, the ten-sets method was used in the general preparator phase to help weightlifters gain lean body mass. It was so efficient that lifters routinely moved up a full weight class within 12 weeks.” Charles Poliquin. 

Have you ever tried German Volume Training before? Did it work for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Check out the first article in the series:

How to Build Muscle and Strength: The 5 x 5 Program

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