German Volume Training (GVT) Plan [with Spreadsheet and PDF]

While working out at the gym, I am always looking to find new ways to improve my gains and the efficiency of my training sessions. That includes exploring different exercise programs that approach the principles of working out from different angles.

Whatever the method, I found that most pieces of research indicated that training volume is a key driver of strength gains [1]. To test out this theory, I tried the famous German Volume Training plan. The results were pretty impressive.

If you want to put on more muscle, become stronger, or overcome training plateaus, this is the perfect workout program for you.

The German Volume Training (GVT) is a high-intensity workout regimen. In strength training, it is often called the “10-sets 10-reps” method. As the name suggests, we have to perform 10 sets of 10 reps for each exercise.

This makes the GVT workout routine brutally hard. Generally, the German volume regimen is used by Olympic lifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders to beat the plateaus and gain muscle mass.

Even if you are an intermediate or a more experienced lifter, you can easily gain 10 or more pounds of lean muscle in just 6 weeks by following this routine with proper diet and nutrition.

German Volume Training (GVT) Plan

History of the German Volume Training Program

The GVT workout routine originated in Germany in the 1970s and was popularized by Rolf Feser, the coach of national weightlifting at that time.  In Germany, the 10 sets method is commonly used by weightlifters in the off-season to gain lean muscle mass.

It was so effective that the weightlifters could move up an entire weight class within 12 weeks.

The GVT program was the base training program of Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers, silver medallist – second position in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He was coached by Pierre Roy and was famous for his massive thighs, for which he credits the GVT method.

The same workout routine was also used by the famous Australian bodybuilder Bev Francis. She started her career by shot-put. Beverley Francis broke the Australian shot-put record in 1977. She went on to win the Australian national shot-put championship in 1982.

After that, she joined powerlifting, where she won six world titles between 1980 and 1985, earning the title of the “Strongest Woman in History.

A workout routine similar to GVT was also promoted in the United States by the famous bodybuilder Iron Guru – the first bodybuilding coach, Vince Gironda, in his forties and fifties. But his workout routine consisted of 8 sets of 8 reps. Presently, it is called Girnoda’s 8 X 8 workout routine.

The GVT program was made famous by coach Charles Poliquin in 1996. He published an article in the Muscle Media 2000 bodybuilding journal and renamed the 10 sets method to German Volume Training.

WHAT is GVT and How it Works?

GVT is a high-volume workout program. The principle idea of German Volume Training is to complete ten sets of ten repetitions with the same weight for each exercise. GVT is based on the law of repeated effort. Therefore, it does not require you to train to muscular failure.

In this program, we target a group of motor units and expose them to repeated extraordinary volume. You are basically targeting muscles with a single compound exercise (like squats, barbell rows, overhead presses, bench presses, and so on), for hypertrophic gains.

This was revolutionary for its time, as failure training was thought to be the most effective back then. But now, newer studies indicate that non-failure training programs with a structured format can be more effective for hypertrophy and strength gains [2].

Training Volume = Sets x Reps x Weight Lifted

GVT Workout Routine

The GVT plan aims to work your muscles constantly at high intensity. In response to the stress, the body triggers muscle growth and improves hypertrophy.

To get these benefits, we have devised the ultimate GVT workout routine for you.

German Volume Training Schedule

When achieving optimal training volume is your goal, sticking to a fixed schedule is very important. For that reason, we have outlined the complete workout schedule, from the start to the finish.

  1. 5-day split- 3 days on and 2 days off
    • Day 1: Chest and Back
    • Day 2: Legs and Abs
    • Day 3: Rest
    • Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
    • Day 5: Rest
  2. Beginner or Intermediate German Volume Training – 11 weeks
    • GVT workout phase 1: 6 weeks
    • Recovery phase: 3 weeks
    • GVT workout phase 2: 2 weeks
  3. Advanced German volume training – After completing phase 2 of the beginner/intermediate GVT program


  • Pick a weight with which you can perform 20 reps to failure.
  • Increase the weight by 2.5-5% when you are able to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with constant rest.
  • Reduce the weight by 2.5-5% when you are unable to complete 10 reps
  • A1 & A2 – Primary workouts 
  • B1 & B2 – Supplementary workouts
  • Doing 10 sets of supplementary workouts (B1 & B2) would result in over-training, resulting in stagnating or deteriorating exercise performance [3].

German Volume Training Program for Beginners and Intermediate Lifters

The GVT program is planned in a progressive manner. It is divided into multiple phases where you go from a beginner to an advanced lifter in a span of a few weeks.

All the phases, including the time allotted for rest and recovery, are important if you want to see optimal results.

German Volume Training

GVT Phase 1 – Beginner/Intermediate

The first phase of this program is relatively simple. The main goal is to complete 10 sets of 10 repetitions each. As such, make sure that you pick the appropriate weight.

The recommended method is to choose a weight that you can lift for 20 repetitions before you hit muscular failure. In most cases, that would be around 60% of your 1-Rep Maximum.

Between each set, you will have to take rest for at least 60-90 seconds to let your muscles recover efficiently. Usually, it will be 90 seconds. But for accessory exercises like crunches and calf raises, the rest interval will be 60 seconds. 

Duration: 6 cycles (6 weeks)


A1Decline dumbbell presses10104-0-2-090
B1Incline dumbbell flys310-123-0-2-060
B2One arm dumbbell row310-123-0-2-060


A1Barbell squat10104-0-2-090
A2Lying leg curls10104-0-2-090
B1Leg pull-in315-202-0-2-060
B2Seated calf raise315-202-0-2-060



A1Close grip bench press10104-0-2-090
A2Incline dumbbell curls10104-0-2-090
B1Dumbbell lying rear lateral raise310-122-0-2-060
B2Seated side lateral raise310-122-0-2-060


Once you have completed 6 cycles or applied the phase 1 program for 6 workouts per body part, it’s time to move on to a more intense GVT program for a 3-week period.

Recovery Phase

Duration: 3 weeks

After completing 6 five-day cycles, Poliquin recommends following a 3-week phase where the average of the repetitions ranges from 6 to 8.

During this period, perform only 4 to 6 sets per body part.

You can also follow any other split routine that suits your recovery time.

GVT Phase 2 – Beginner/Intermediate

Duration: 3 cycles (3 weeks)

After completing the recovery block, you can return to German Volume Training by performing 10 sets of 6 repetitions.

Here, you may pick a load that allows 12 maximum reps.

In phase 2, the weight is increased from 60% of 1 RM to 67-70% of 1 RM. The goal is to complete 10 sets with 6 reps each.


A1Incline dumbbell press1065-0-1-090
A2Wide grip rear pull ups1065-0-1-090
B1Dumbbell flys363-0-1-060
B2Bent over barbell row363-0-1-060


A2Leg extensions1065-0-1-090
B1Oblique crunches312-153-0-3-060
B2Calf raises312-153-0-3-060



A1Close grip bench press1065-0-1-090
A2Incline dumbbell curls1065-0-1-090
B1Dumbbell lying rear lateral raise310-122-0-2-060
B2Seated side lateral raise310-122-0-2-060


Don’t miss:

PHAT Workout Routine
PHUL Workout Routine
Hypertrophy Specific Training
5 Day Workout Routine

Advanced German Volume Training Program 

After completing phase 2 of the beginner/intermediate German Volume Training program, you can move on to the advanced version of the same.

Here, we will apply the famous “4% method.”

4% Method

In the advanced GVT program, we increase the weight by 4-5% in each workout for two workout sessions in a row. At the same time, we shall reduce the target repetitions by one rep for every weight increase.

On the next workout session after that, you have to reduce the weight by 4-5% (compared to weights used in the previous session) while taking the number of target repetitions to the original starting point.

The same process will continue again in a repetitive cycle until you hit a new RM and gain strength.

Advanced GVT Program

The advanced GVT program is the perfect anti-plateau program. A training plateau is the period when you are no longer progressing in workouts.

Either you are unable to add more load to your sets, or you are not gaining any muscle mass – both are perfect symptoms of being stuck in a training plateau.

Let’s see how you can break workout plateaus with the Advanced German Volume Training Program-

Case 1: Barbell Curl

Let’s assume that you can perform a barbell curl at 100 pounds for 12 repetitions. However, you are unable to increase the number of reps or the weight for a long time.

Here’s a sample advanced German volume training routine that would increase your curling strength.

  • Workout 1: 10 sets of 6 reps – load – 110 lbs
  • Workout 2: 10 sets of 5 reps – load – 115 lbs
  • Workout 3: 10 sets of 4 reps – load – 120 lbs
  • Workout 4: 10 sets of 6 reps – load – 115 lbs
  • Workout 5: 10 sets of 5 reps – load – 120 lbs
  • Workout 6: 10 sets of 4 reps – load – 125 lbs
  • Workout 7 (Test day): At this point, you would curl 120 lbs for 12 repetitions, almost a 10% increase.

Case 2: Bench Press

Let’s say you can bench press at 300 pounds for 10 reps. However, you cannot progress beyond this point.

Here’s a sample advanced German volume training routine that would increase your bench press.

  • Workout 1: 10 sets of 5 reps – load – 300 lbs
  • Workout 2: 10 sets of 4 reps – load – 315 lbs
  • Workout 3: 10 sets of 3 reps – load – 330 lbs
  • Workout 4: 10 sets of 5 reps – load – 315 lbs
  • Workout 5: 10 sets of 4 reps – load – 330 lbs
  • Workout 6: 10 sets of 3 reps – load – 345 lbs
  • Workout 7 (Test day): At this point, you would bench press 330 lbs for 10 repetitions, almost a 10% increase.

Charles R. Poliquin’s Guidelines to German Volume Training

As I said before, the goal of GVT is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps for each exercise. Starting too heavy may lead to overtraining.  You should begin with a weight that you can lift for 20 reps to failure. In most cases, that would be 60% of your 1RM.

Alternating antagonistic exercises can make this workout routine more productive. It is also recommended that you take notes on the weight lifted, the duration of the sets, and the rest intervals.

GVT is only for absolute muscle gain, not for fat loss. So, proper diet and nutrition are a must to maintain your secondary fitness goal of having a toned body with a low-fat percentage [4].

Terms of German Volume Training Routine

To truly understand the essence of GVT workout programs, there are some technical terms and jargon that you must understand.

In this section, we shall talk about them at length.

Speed of Movement or Tempo

The tempo for long-range movements such as squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, dips, etc. is 4-0-2-0. This means while performing such exercises, you should lower the weight in 4 seconds and immediately change the direction and lift the weight in 2 seconds.

For short-range exercises such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 3-0-2-0 tempo.

Here, the first number indicates the time for the eccentric phase of the movement, and the third number indicates the time for the concentric phase.

In GVT, training time for the negative phase is always greater than the positive phase. The second and fourth number indicates the time for the isometric stop.

In GVT, isometric stops in maximum elongation and maximum contraction are not prolonged. That is, at the end of each movement, you should change the direction immediately.

Time Under Tension

For long-range movements:

  • Time under tension for 1 rep = 6 seconds
  • Time under tension for 10 reps = 60 seconds

For exercises such as curls, triceps extensions:

  • Time under tension for 1 rep = 5 seconds
  • Time under tension for 10 reps = 50 seconds

Compared to other workout routines, the time under tension is maximum in GVT. In advanced German Volume Training (85-90% of 1 RM), we reduce the number of repetitions due to the increased intensity. As a result, time under tension also decreases, potentially reaching 12-30 seconds.

Rest Time

When performed in sequence, the rest time should be 60-100 seconds and 90-120 seconds for super sets. The 1-minute interval is a must. It might help you feel stronger during the 7-9 sets because of neural adaptation.

As you progress, you may tend to lengthen the rest intervals. To avoid doing that, you can use a smartphone stopwatch to keep the intervals constant.

A rest period of 1 minute or more is essential for all kinds of hypertrophy training programs that involve 10 or more reps. It is important for creating an increase in the level of lactate, which is associated with anabolic hormonal stimulus for improved hypertrophy.

In the advanced level of German Volume Training, rest interval could be increased, potentially reaching up to 3 minutes.

This interval is not reported by Poliquin, but is scientifically the most suitable one for a high-intensity training regimen [5]. This is because the recovery of muscle phosphate level is very important to achieve maximum force.

Choice and Number of Exercises

Only perform one exercise per body part while following this routine. So, include exercises that recruit the maximum muscle mass while training. For example, compound exercises, like squats, chest presses, military presses, etc.

The weightage is reserved for compound exercises, which involve more muscle groups and joints during the movement. On the other hand, mono-articular or isolation exercises are not allowed.

In Poliquin’s GVT program, some isolation exercises are also performed as supplements to the already stimulated muscle groups. But adding more than 2 supplementary exercises is not recommended to prevent over-training.

Training Frequency

Since GVT incorporates high-volume training with high density, it will take more time to recover from fatigue.

Poliquin doesn’t take a week as the basis for GVT. According to Poliquin, one training session every four to five days per body part is enough. That is 3 sessions of training in every 5 days.


When you are able to do 10 sets of 10 reps with constant rest time, you can increase the weight by 2.5-5%.

It is recommended to avoid advanced techniques like forced reps, negative reps, partials, etc.

German Volume Training Program Spreadsheet 

The German Volume Training (GVT) program is based on some very rigid principles. When followed diligently, you can overcome plateaus, gain strength, and build muscle mass – all at the same time.

To help you with that, we have prepared a comprehensive spreadsheet of the entire GVT workout template that you will need to follow.

You can download our comprehensive GVT training program in the form of an excel sheet by clicking on the button given below.


German Volume Training Plan PDF

The German Volume Training program is a comprehensive one. Our routine outlines the entire plan that you must follow to get the most efficient results.

You can get the entire GVT workout routine in PDF format by clicking on the download button below.

The file is available for free and can easily be printed if you wish to keep a physical copy with you at the gym.


Don’t miss:

Arnold’s Golden Six Routine
Daily Undulating Periodization
7 Day Workout Plan
Two Body Parts a Day Workout Routine

Final Words

Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate lifter, or a veteran in the field of fitness, finding the perfect training program is a must.

With GVT, you can see the best of many worlds – you can focus on hypertrophy, strength-building, and even beat plateaus by focusing on a volume-based training approach.


  1. Schöenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgić, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 51(1), 94–103.
  2. Davies, T. B., Orr, R., Halaki, M., & Hackett, D. (2015). Effect of training Leading to Repetition Failure on Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 46(4), 487–502.
  3. Armstrong, L. E., Bergeron, M. F., Lee, E. C., Mershon, J. E., & Armstrong, E. (2022). Overtraining syndrome as a complex systems phenomenon. Frontiers in Network Physiology, 1.
  4. Willoughby, D. S., Hewlings, S., & Kalman, D. (2018). Body Composition Changes in Weight loss: Strategies and supplementation for maintaining lean body mass, A brief review. Nutrients, 10(12), 1876.
  5. De Salles, B. F., Simão, R., Miranda, F., Da Silva Novaes, J., Lemos, A., & Willardson, J. M. (2009). Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training. Sports Medicine, 39(9), 765–777.