Advanced training methods for hypertrophy – German Volume Training
Our previous blog on Hypertrophy training explained how this technique should lead to muscle growth to help you bulk up or increase your power and strength. However, there are many different types of hypertrophy training and today we are focusing on one of them in particular: German Volume Training.
What is German Volume Training?
In short, it consists of targeting a group of motor units by carrying out one compound exercise with 10 sets of 10 reps at 60% of your one rep max (1RM) – see our blog on How to work out your one rep max – with 60-90 seconds rest between each set.
This is followed by two or three sets of eight to 10 reps of an isolation exercise with 60 seconds rest between sets.
As the goal is to increase lean muscle mass, it is particularly popular with athletes and bodybuilders, as well as weightlifters working out during their off season. Muscle gain can be dramatic, over a short period of time.
Can 60% of your 1RM really increase muscle?
You’d be surprised. The weight may appear light on the first set of 10 but by the time you reach the later sets, you’ll be working those muscles hard. While you are less likely to improve your 1RM, the high number of sets increases how long you are under tension, and helps to build muscle.
When was German Volume Training developed?
The technique was first seen in the 1970s and is believed to have been devised as an off-season training method by Rolf Feser, the national weightlifting coach for Germany. Later it was further popularised by Charles Poliquin, a Canadian-born coach and strength training expert, who works with high-achieving athletes and has apparently trained more than 800 Olympians.
German Volume Training is also sometimes called the 10 Sets Method.
What exercise workout patterns should you follow?
Charles Poliquin recommends training three days on and two days off, and gives the following example on his website (www.strengthsensei.com)
Day 1 chest and back
Day 2 legs and abs
Day 3 rest
Day 4 arms and shoulders
Day 5 rest
Day 6 start over with chest and back
Other trainers have recommended focusing on upper body one day and lower body the next, or targeting muscle groups in isolation over four days of training. Whatever you decide, it’s recommended that you leave around four to five days between working a specific muscle group. This is because the volume of reps and sets makes recovery take longer.
For balance, try to use antagonistic muscle groups in your workouts. A personal trainer will be able to advise on the best options.
Examples of German Volume Training programmes
It’s always a good idea to consult a fitness professional such as a qualified personal trainer to help you develop the right training programme for you.
However, some examples might be:
10 x 10 bench press at 60% 1RM
2-3 x 8-10 dumbbell fly
10 x 10 Squats
2-3 x 8-10 Seated leg extension / Seated leg curl
What about progression?
The key to German Volume Training is that you don’t train to failure on any of the 10 sets. Once you can comfortably achieve all of the sets, you can progress by adding 5% to the weights you are using.