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German Volume Training (GVT) is a popular type of weight training among those who have the goal to increase the size and strength of their muscles. It can be tough and takes a lot of work, so we look at what it is and whether it's right for you.

What is the German Volume Training method?

Esteemed late strength coach Charles R Poliquin was an expert on German Volume Training and believed it originated in Germany in the mid 1970s. It is also known as 'the 10 sets method' due to its structure and was originally used in the off-season to help weightlifters increase their muscle mass. 

In the most basics terms, German Volume Training consists of doing 10 sets of 10 repetitions on a single exercise for a single muscle group. This incredible load (100 reps!) shocks the system and causes the body to react by building muscle fast. It is not uncommon for lifters to see an increase of 10lbs of muscle mass in only 6 weeks of practising GVT.

The goal is to complete all 100 reps with the same weight. In order to discover which weight is right for you to start with, test a weight that you can lift for about 20 reps to failure. For most people, this is 60% of their one rep max (1RM). For example, if your 1RM for deadlifts is 200kg (440lbs), you would use a weight of 120kg (264lbs) for German Volume Training. 

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Is German Volume Training effective?

German Volume Training has been used for over 50 years now and has stood the test of time. Many bodybuilders, powerlifters, and weightlifters use this training method to build muscle and have found it to be hugely effective. 

Some people think that the weight seems too light for the first couple of sets and question the effectiveness of the method. However, it's important to remember that you're going to be lifting this weight for a total of 100 reps and so cumulative fatigue will soon set in. Make sure you stay strict with your rest intervals and use a stopwatch to time rest periods of no longer than 60 seconds. It can be tempting to increase rest when it starts to get tough in the last couple of sets, but don't let this happen.

In order for German Volume Training to be effective, it's also important to perform the right exercises. Compound exercises such as bench press, squat, and deadlift are the best exercises to use for German Volume Training as they use the maximum amount of muscle. Isolating exercises such as tricep kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely a no-go. If you want to supplement a smaller muscle group like triceps and biceps, go ahead and do regular training afterwards.

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What are the benefits of German Volume Training?

German Volume Training has many benefits and is a tried and tested method of increasing muscle mass. Due to the sheer amount of repetitions and workload, the body is forced to react and so you're pretty much guaranteed to build muscle following this method. However, be warned that it isn't easy and should be left to experienced lifters. You should also only follow this training method for less than 8 weeks due to the strain it puts on the body. Most lifters find that 6 weeks once or twice a year is optimal. 

GVT is mainly used for bulking as it increases muscle and so will make you both bigger and stronger. If you're looking to cut, this isn't the right training programme for you. 

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Does German Volume Training burn fat?

Yes, German Volume Training certainly burns fat. A lot of people don't think of weight training as fat-burning, instead visualising running on a treadmill for hours on end and sweating buckets as the ultimate way to burn fat. However, lifting weights is proven to be very effective at burning calories, especially as it really raises your heart rate and gets your metabolism fired up.

The sheer volume of reps undertaken when practising German Volume Training means it is a fat-burning programme and the fact it takes so long also increases your calorie-burn. Additionally, because German Volume Training increases your lean muscle mass, this in turn causes your body to burn more fat at rest.