Massive Volume Training - German Volume Variation

Massive Volume Training - German Volume Variation

Over the years I've helped many lifters start German Volume Training programs. Though GVT is a solid system, I enjoy tweaking things and providing alternatives for trainees who want to put on some muscle mass.

Before I present my variation, I want to outline a few pros and cons (as I see them) of German Volume Training.

Pros of German Volume Training

It Builds Muscle. It is of the best short-term plans for adding muscle mass, unless, of course, you refuse to back it with smart nutrition.

Big Hitting Exercises. GVT hits you hard using compound movements such as squats and bench press.

Hard Work. German Volume Training is a no bull approach that is hard to mess up. It is difficult, but if you play by the rules, it works.

Rest-Pause Kicks Butt. I am a huge fan of rest-pause training. I believe it to be one of the best methods of building muscle mass.
"To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement. Gains of ten pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters." - Charles Poliquin

Cons of German Volume Training

The Bail Factor. Very few trainees stick with German Volume Training because of the intensity and lack of exercise variations.

Extreme DOMS. After my first GVT squat session, my legs were brutally sore for 9 days. In fact, they were so sore the following week that there was no way I was ready to perform another squat workout.

Call me a wuss if you'd like, but I've been squatting for 28 years and this was the only time I missed a workout because of muscle soreness.

Aggressive Bulk Mode Engaged. For the natural trainee, GVT is best used alongside an aggressive bulk. The recovery demands are intense, and will be maximized with plenty of food and sleep. Why is this a con? Well, to be honest, most guys won't back a training system like this with the proper amount of food for numerous reasons.

Some Muscle Groups Aren't 10x10 Friendly. Certain exercises, like the overhead presses, forced me to use a ridiculously low amount of weight just to be able to complete a true 10x10. For example, during my first overhead workout I tried 135lbs. I got through 4 sets before my shoulder endurance began to drop dramatically. During my second overhead press workout, I decided to drop the weight substantially. Even with only 95lbs on the bar, by set 6 I was no longer able to reach 10 reps. By set 8 my reps per set were around 5-6.

The following week I tried overheads with 75lbs and still couldn't come close to completing a 10x10. Is this an issue? Well, I believe my shoulder workouts were still effective. With that said, I don't believe some exercises and muscle groups to be well-suited for 10x10 training. It should also be noted that in my case, I spent half the program trying to find a usable weight for exercises like overhead presses before coming to the conclusion that unless I went absurdly light, I would never complete a true 10x10.

My goal in writing this workout article isn't to create a better German Volume Training; it's to create a more user-friendly GVT. I believe you will find my Massive Volume Training to be a plan that:

  • You can run longer than 6-9 weeks.
  • Is a bit easier to recover from, but still packs a mass-building punch.
  • Doesn't require you to run an overly-aggressive bulk.
  • Is a plan that allows for a few more exercise variations, making it easier to personalize without taking away from its effectiveness.
  • Will allow you to utilize slightly more weight on some of the GVT exercises.

Massive Volume Training - MVT

Here are the rules of Massive Volume Training, or MVT. If you have any questions, post them up in the comments section below.

Major Muscle Groups:
  • Each major muscle group will be hit with a 10x10 rest-pause exercise pairing.
  • Instead of doing a 10x10 with a single exercise, you will alternate between 2 exercises until you reach a total of 10 sets.
  • For major muscle groups, at least one of the 10x10 exercises must be a quality compound barbell or dumbbell movement.
  • The secondary 10x10 exercise should be a very challenging movement and not an isolation lift.
  • The secondary 10x10 exercise can be rotated every other week to allow for some exercise variation.
  • Rest between 10x10 sets is 90 seconds, and no more.
  • Add 5 pounds to the primary and secondary 10x10 exercises when you are able to reach 10 reps for each set of that movement.
  • Start with a weight that is about 50% of your one rep max for each exercise. Make adjustments down if needed.
  • Major muscle groups are finished off with an isolation-style movement using a 5x10 set and rep scheme. Rest between sets for this isolation lift is a tight 60 seconds, and no more. when you can perform a 5x10 using a given weight, add a slight amount of resistance the following week.
So, as an example let's look at quad training. You require a compound movement, and the obvious choice is squats. Squats are considered your primary movement in the 10x10 pairing. As a secondary movement you go big and bold, and pick leg presses. Your 10 set protocol will look like this:
  • Squats, 10 reps
  • Leg Presses, 10 reps
  • Squats, 10 reps
  • Leg Presses, 10 reps
  • Squats, 10 reps
  • Leg Presses, 10 reps
  • Squats, 10 reps
  • Leg Presses, 10 reps
  • Squats, 10 reps
  • Leg Presses, 10 reps
Remember, rest in between sets is kept to a tight maximum of 90 seconds.

Minor Muscle Groups:
  • Targeted with 2 exercises of choice.
  • Each exercise utilizes a 4x10 set and rep scheme.
  • Rest between minor muscle group sets is kept to a tight 60 seconds and no more.
  • You can rest 2-4 minutes between exercises.

Massive Volume Training Program Notes

Rest Weeks. I recommend taking a rest week after 6-8 weeks of training. Do nothing but sleep and eat. Have some fun and forget about lifting. If you are 40+, or feel you are not recovering as quickly as you'd like, you can opt to take a rest week every 5th week.

Nutrition & Bulking. This is a program designed to help you build muscle. If you have yet to pack on a substantial amount of muscle mass, I recommend eating 300-500 calories above maintenance and consuming 200-240 grams of protein per day. If you are an intermediate natural lifter who has already built a substantial amount of muscle mass, I would eat no more than 300 calories above maintenance level. Understand that these are general recommendations.

Lifters who have yet to pack on much muscle mass should aim to add about 2 pounds of body weight per month while on this program. Intermediates should aim for a one pound body weight increase per month. Anything less than this and you are short-changing your results.

Quality food choices allow for better recovery and gains. If you want to eat less or are obsessed with keeping your abs, you might be able to add some mass but it will not be optimal.

Alternating Exercises. Do you have to alternate secondary, isolation or minor muscle group exercises? No.

Progression. Progression of weight should be your primary focus. If you aren't adding a small amount of weight at every opportunity, you are NOT running the program properly. A bulk without progressive overload is simply a fat gain plan. Challenge your body by adding weight when you can. No exceptions.

Training Frequency. Because of the recovery demands, this program is designed to target a muscle group only once per week. If you are interested in training a muscle group more frequently, this is not the program for you.

4 Day Massive Volume Training Split

Here is the split:
  • Day 1 - Quads and Hamstrings
  • Day 2 - Chest and Triceps
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Back and Biceps
  • Day 5 - Shoulders, Traps, and Calves
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off
Ab work can be added as needed.

Note that you will be alternating between 2 sets of workouts: week one and week two. The primary exercise will remain the same, while secondary movements, isolation lifts, and minor muscle group exercises will alternate.

Week One Training

Day 1
Quads and Hamstrings
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats/Leg Press  10  10
Leg Extensions  5  10
Dumbbell RDL  4  10
Leg Curls  4  10

Day 2
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press/Machine Bench Press  10  10
Cable Crossovers  5  10
Lying Tricep Extensions  4  10
Rope Cable Tricep Extensions  4  10

Day 4
Back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Rows/Seated Cable Rows  10  10
V-Bar Pull Downs  5  10
EZ Bar Curls  4  10
Rope Cable Curls  4  10

Day 5
Shoulders, Traps and Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Overhead Barbell Press/Seated Arnold Press  10  10
Side Lateral Raise  5  10
Dumbbell Shrugs  4  10
Seated Calf Raise  4  10

Week Two Training

Day 1
Quads and Hamstrings
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats/Hack Squats  10  10
Goblet Squats  5  10
Reverse Hack Squats  4  10
Leg Curls  4  10

Day 2
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press/Dips  10  10
Pec Dec  5  10
Close Grip Bench Press  4  10
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extensions  4  10

Day 4
Back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Rows/T-Bar Rows  10  10
Pull Ups or Inverted Rows  5  10
Dumbbell Curls  4  10
Machine Curls  4  10

Day 5
Shoulders, Traps and Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Overhead Barbell Press/Upright Rows  10  10
Rear Lateral Raise  5  10
Barbell Shrugs  4  10
Standing Calf Raise  4  10

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Previous article 12-Week Shoulder Workout for Mass


Dan Kulcsar - January 27, 2021

As a 48 year old beaten up lifter, I would like to say Thank You for this routine. I stumbled onto it by accident and absolutely fell in love with it. It seriously has changed my body and my joints are feeling much better these days.
Just started this routine for the second time. I was able to run it for 9 weeks before hitting a stalemate the first time. After a 3 week body weight/band only cycle I am kicking myself back into high gear.
Again my 48 year old body and joints say Thanks.
This routine is simple not boring and COMPLETELY GENEROUS!!!

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