German Volume Training: The Program of Champions

German Volume… what?

The German Volume Training is an intense method of bodybuilding and weightlifting that was popularized by Canadian strength coach Charles R. Poliquin. At an early age, Charles already began his quest for strength and muscle. He continued this passion by studying exercise at a higher degree of Masters in Canada where he majored in Exercise Physiology. With a deeper level of understanding of human anatomy and what it takes to build muscle, he authored eight books on strength training and how to bulk up.

Charles R. Poliquin and his life in muscle building

Besides this, he officially started coaching athletes and bodybuilders when he finished his master’s degree. It was in the late 1990s that he first integrated the German Volume Training in his training center: the Poliquin Performance located in Phoenix, Arizona. This was followed by a new training center, the “Poliquin Strength Institute” in Rhode Island back 2009. He was also a founder of a coach certifying body the PICP or the Poliquin International Certification Program wherein he allowed many coaches the opportunity to share his passion for bodybuilding and strength training. Finally, he decided to part ways with the Poliquin Group of companies despite him being the owner and founded another company called the Strength Sensei. By this time, his popularity with effective and reliable exercise science garnered him many clients in professional athletes across all sporting events in the Olympics as well as sports athletes.

Under his belt, he had a roster of popular professional and well-regarded athletes training under his program. Charles was popularized with “When a country wants a gold medal, they come to Charles.” And a few who came to him included:

  • Dwight Phillips, an Olympic medalist long jumper who won the gold medal
  • Michelle Freeman, an international hurdler who formerly ranked as number one
  • Chris Thorpe, an Olympian in doubles luge, won the silver and bronze medals in different years
  • David Boston, Pro-bowler as a wide receiver for the NFL or the National Football League,
  • Adam Nelson shot put Olympian who was a world champion and 2x gold Olympic medalist
  • Gary Roberts, National Hockey League player, accounts his return to the sport with the help of Charles Poliquin

German Volume Training in a nutshell

Now that we’ve established that the GVT’s or German Volume Training’s founder is indeed a highly trained, knowledgeable and credible coach, we now have your attention and you’re now curious about GVT.

General Volume Training, also widely known in gyms as the 10 by 10 workout is a weight training program that was designed by Charles Poliquin to have higher set counts and moderate repetitions which is focused on a specific muscle group. Simply put, it is repeating an exercise over and over again until you reach 10 sets with 10 repetitions for each workout. It is a difficult, grueling yet dynamic and effective training program that reaps the results for those who are patient and persistent enough to endure it.

Quick Program Rundown on the General Volume Training

The concept is simple. A different muscle group each day for the rest of the week, having 10 reps x 10 sets for each exercise, with 60 seconds out once you’re ready to shift to another exercise, which is then done across 90 days, with only the weekends as your rest day.

Phew. Just describing it makes us want to puke out our abdominals. If we were to gauge the difficulty of this program, yes, we’d say a 10 out of 10. Sixty seconds is not enough to give your muscles ample time to rest and reset after a grueling 10 by 10. Talk about the strength of the Germans. This program was initially used by German weightlifters as it provides them increased lean muscle mass and an enormous amount of physical strength. One feedback of this program reported about more or less 5 kilograms or muscle-weight increase in 2 months.

This program is designed to emphasize a different muscle group daily to push said muscles to the limit thereby causing the muscles in that area to steel up quickly. Generally, this does not help improve the bodybuilder’s maximum rep but allows him to put on more mass. The body will then start to adapt to the intensity of the workout causing a phenomenon called hypertrophying the muscle fibers. Hypertrophying refers to the skeletal muscle’s increase in size through the growth of its cells. This is one of the results of German Volume Training.

GVT: The Program

One key point that you should remember when on this program is to use only 60% of your rep max load. So let’s say you bench press 300 lbs for one rep usually, on the General Volume Training, you would use only 180 lbs that is repeated for 10 reps in 10 sets. It SOUNDS easy, but it’s a killer.

A snapshot of your daily GVT program should look a bit like this:

First Day: Chest and Back
Second Day: Legs and Abdominal Muscles
Third Day: Rest
Fourth Day: Arms and Shoulders
Fifth Day: Rest

First Day: Chest and Back

The following exercises are recommended to get the optimum results from your GVT. Follow these steps to ensure that you build your muscles fast!

1. Workout 1 for Chest and Back: Incline Bench Press

The incline version of the bench press puts the stress into your back and frontal shoulders more than any part of your upper body. This will give you an impeccable strength and you’d feel the burn tracing from the joint of your shoulders to your upper chest, spread across the wings of your back. Here are some tips on how to perfectly execute the 10 reps:

  • Lie with your back slightly arched at a 45-degree incline
  • Hold the bar over your chest, hands wider than your shoulders
  • Lower the bar until it slightly touches your chest
  • Inhale when you lower the bar, exhale when you press it back up

2. Workout 2 C&B: Bent-over row

This one works your back ultimately, as well as your upper chest. It will also enable you to improve your posture while it builds your upper body strength. Here are some tips to improve your bent-over rows:

  • When holding the bar, ensure that your grip is shoulder-width
  • Bend your knees slightly so as not to impact your knees
  • Bend your hips until almost at a 45-degree angle
  • When pulling the bar up, make sure you aren’t shifting your upper body otherwise, you’re doing it wrong

3. Workout 3 C&B: Dumbbell press

The Dumbbell press engages the same muscles as the bench press but allows more specificity in the muscles being targeted. It will also help you develop stabilization in your shoulder joints.
Some tips you can follow for this:

  • Hold your arms straight up
  • Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible when lowering the weights
  • Slowly press back up to starting position

Second Day: Legs and Abs

1. Workout 1 L&A: Front Squat

This works both your gluteal muscles as well as the frontal thigh muscles. As you ease into this, your quads are also engaged. Some tips to follow when doing the front squats:

  • rest the bar on the front of your shoulders
  • hold the bar in place with palms facing upwards
  • chest out
  • use your heels to stand up

2. Workout 2 L&A: Romanian Deadlift

This workout targets your glutes and hamstrings. To improve the execution of this workout:

  • the stance should be feet shoulder-width apart
  • Use an overhand grip to hold the barbell
  • bend slightly in your knees
  • lower the barbell in front of you until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings

3. Workout 3 L&A: Bulgarian Split Squat

This squat will target key muscle groups in your legs including the quads. This is one of the isolation workouts that specifically engages your legs and the burn will usually last you days.

  • Your front foot should be approximately 60cm in front of the bench
  • keep your torso upright to engage your core
  • your knee should be aligned with your ankle

Fourth Day: Arms and Shoulders

1. Workout 1 Arms and Shoulders: Overhead Press

The overhead press works your shoulders and the full shoulder joint while engaging your arms as well.
To execute this:

  • feet and hands should be both shoulder-widths apart
  • engage your glutes, quads, and core as you press upward
  • don’t rush and pause when the bar is at its highest

2. Workout 2 A&S: Biceps curl

For this exercise, you can add more repetition to the recommended 10 x 10 of GVT because it is a fairly easy weighted movement. Just to improve your execution:

  • Stand tall and feet should be slightly closed together
  • palms facing forwards with the dumbbells
  • elbows should be tucked as close to your sides as possible

3. Workout 3 A&S: Diamond Press-up

One of the toughest bodyweight exercises out there, this exercise targets your triceps specifically.

Some tips for proper execution:

  • Keep your hands together to form a diamond shape as this will help engage your triceps
  • keep the body in a straight line, do not arch or put your butt out

So, should you try it?

Yes, 10 by 10 times, YES. With this program, your muscle groups are easily activated. An easily activated muscle tantamounts to bigger, better, and stronger muscles in no time. It worked on a bunch of Olympic gold medalist and champion athletes, it should work for you, too.