German Volume Training – An old school method to build serious mass

By Marwan / July 1, 2014

I am sure you guys have heard of the different methods of  training that we as bodybuilders use, you’ve heard of supersets, tri-sets and giant sets right? These allow you to get through a lot of work in a short period of time.  We also have the rest pause method which recruits more type 2 muscle fibers and we also have eccentric training which allows you to break through plateaus.

 Almost any training method will work provided a) you do it correctly and b) it is done for a few weeks until the body adapts.

But one training method that I have come across and used is German Volume Training or the 10 set method.  It is very hard on the body but equally effective at building muscles fast.  Seeing gaining 10lb of LEAN muscle in 6 weeks is not uncommon.

German Volume Training was actually originated in Germany in the 1970′s and a similar method was designed by Vince Gironda in the USA.

How it works?

The way German Volume Training works is by exposing the muscle fibres to extremely high volume by using a single exercise and doing 10 sets of 10 reps ideally with the same weight.  In Germany, the 10 sets method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass.  They moved up a full weight class within 12 weeks.

Goals and Guidelines

The goal is to do 10 sets of 10 reps of a single exercise with the same weight.  Start with a weight that you can do 20 reps to failure with and see how you get on.  Alternatively try 60% of your 1 rep max for that exercise so if you can bench press 300lb as your 1RM you would do 180lb for10 reps.

For beginners, this is a training split that I would recommend.

Day 1Day 2Day 3    Day 4Day 5
Chest & BackLegs & AbsOffArms & ShouldersOff

Rest Intervals:

When you first start doing this exercise I won’t begrudge you if you felt this was a waste of time as the weight doesn’t feel heavy enough especially for the first few sets but the rest periods are relatively short 60 seconds between each set if you are doing the exercise in sequence (one body part at a time) and 90-120 seconds if you are doing super-sets.

Keep your rest periods honest as the rest periods are designed for the cumulative fatigue to hit (your muscles are doing more work in less time).  The temptation is to rest longer as you start to fatigue but stick to the rest times prescribed to get the most benefit.

What you will find is by the 7th or 8th set you will feel stronger.  This happens because of the short term neurological neural adaptations, and the temptation is there to increase the weight but stick to the same weight and if by the half way point into the set you find it easy then you can make the exercise harder to make sure that you fail on 10 reps by either by using intentions as taught by Coach Ben in MI40 or increase the time under tension by lowering the weight slower.

If after 2 weeks you are able to do 10 sets of 10 comfortably then increase the weight by 5%.

WARNING!!! Expect some deep muscle soreness especially when performing the compound exercises.  On legs day, OMG!!! Expect to be limping for around 5 days after your workout!!!

Chest and Back

A1) Decline Dumbell Presses, Semi Supinated Grip Palms facing each other101040X0
A2) Bent Over Barbell Rows101040X090
B1) Incline Dumbbell Flyes310-1230X0
B2) One-Arm Dumbbell Rows310-1230X060

As you can see in the example above the exercises are done in a superset fashion A1/A2, with the emphasis on a 4 second eccentric.  You will do Decline Presses followed immediately by Chin Ups then you rest 90 seconds and you go again.

Legs and Abs

A1) Back Squats*101040X0
A2) Lying Leg Curl Feet pointing outward101040X090
B1) Low cable Pull-ins315-2020X0
B2) Seated calf raises315-2020X090

*For the beginners you can swap the barbell squats for either goblet squats or a dumbbell squat if you don’t feel confident in doing the back squat although the prescribed tempo means you won’t be going too heavy.  Do the exercises in a superset fashion moving from exercise 1 to exercise 2 then resting 90 seconds before repeating.

Arms and Shoulders

A1) Push Press101040X0
A2) Bent Over Lateral Raises310-1240X090
B1) Parallel Bar Dips101040X0
B2) Incline Hammer Curls310-1220X090

And there you have it guys, this workout is extremely challenging but if done correctly are very rewarding you know 10 lbs of lean muscle in just 6 weeks is pretty good going. You will be sore beyond belief especially after chest and legs days.

Your recovery is crucial in order to build muscles, more crucial than going to the gym actually. It is not only your muscles that need to recover, your CNS has to recover too so keep your stress levels in check. Go to bed early and have plenty of sleep during this phase as believe me you will need it!!

Load up on your supplements, I would recommend BCAA’s from Biotrust Nutrition, crucial to get a good amount of protein into your system especially the fast digesting type, use for pre-workout and intra workout, creatine, a good protein shake post after workout and a fast acting carbohydrate drink such as Vitargo or Karbolyn.

Oh and don’t forget the water either!

Your diet will be crucial so load up on the protein and dietary fats during this phase. Carbohydrates are also important so I would not neglect them. Just be sure to have them with protein. Quantity wise I would say see how you feel, I would start with 2 meals of protein + carbs and see how you get on. Just make sure you measure your portions because if you don’t you have no base to work from.

If you are not gaining increase your portions in the meal immediately after your workout.

If you are gaining excess body fat do some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio after your workouts, any type of cardio will suffice, the two most popular are cycling and running. I find swimming is really good for posture and overall recovery.

I wouldn’t do any more than 2×15 sessions per week as this will eat into your recovery. If you still find the fat isn’t coming off then consider using what I call a carb cycling techniques, there are various ones but I will give you two that I have used and have worked well for me; having no carbs on your days off from the gym, but you will need to increase your total fat and protein intake to make up for the lost calories.

Alternatively, on chest and legs days have two of your meals containing protein and carbs and on all other days have just the one.

Alright guys leave me a comment below and let me know how the programme was for you and how much muscle you have gained.

Take care


About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.