Picture of GVT routine creator, Charles Poliquin

The GVT, or the German Volume Training routine, refers to a system in training which has been utilized by bodybuilders, powerlifters and Olympic lifters to reach their new goals in training. It also helps them pack on some muscle, break training plateaus, or just challenge themselves and see if it is possible for them to do it. Regardless of the purpose of these lifters, the GVT routine has always been viewed as a successful program.

The Background

The GVT routine became popular in 1996, introduced by Charles Poliquin in the magazine “Muscle Media 2000”. The actual program traces back to an earlier date, as some versions of it have already been used back in the early 1940’s. GVT is actually composed 10 sets of 10, which translates to 10 sets of compound lift where you aim for completing 10 repetitions for each set, thus reaching 100 repetitions in total.

For every set, the same weight is used. If you reach a point where you can perform all 10 sets of 10 using the same weight, you can start moving up in weight. This can only be done with one exercise, a compound one, such as a squat, bench press, overhead press or barbell row.

For example, if you want to complete your squat up, you need to set a weight that you can complete for 20 repetitions. You can also identify 60% of your squat in one repetition maximum. Then, you can load the weight on the bar, completing your first 10 reps set.

Afterwards, you can rest between 60 to 90 seconds, and continue with a second set. You can take another rest, and perform a third set, continuing so until either you complete all 10 reps or where you can no longer do the 10 reps. When you complete the aim, you can then add weight for next time. If not, still complete the 10 sets, trying again using the same weight the next time.

How to Complete this Program

If you are interested in adopting the GVT routine, the good news is that it is possible for you to do so. All you need to do is to perform a compound lift for the muscle group for a day, and focus on it as your GVT routine exercise.

For example, your Day 1 focuses on Chest and Back. For your chest, a good option is to complete a flat barbell bench press. For your back, you can then opt for a bent over barbell row. After the rows, you can choose an isolation exercise for the chest and complete 3 sets of 10 reps. Afterwards, you can do the same for your back.

Day 1: Back and Chest

  • 10 sets, 10 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press
  • 10 sets, 10 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Bent Over Barbell Row
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Cable Crossover
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Close-Grip Front Flat Pulldown

Day 2: Abs and Legs

  • 10 sets, 10 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Barbell Squat
  • 10 sets, 10 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Lying leg Curls
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Seated Calf Raise
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Hanging Leg Raise

Day 3: REST

Day 4: Shoulders and Arms

  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press
  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Barbell Curl
  • 3 sets, 6 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Side Lateral Raise
  • 3 sets, 6 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Seated Bent – Over Rear Delt Raise

Day 5: REST

After the GVT Routine Week

This routine will continue for six weeks. Afterwards, you can then lower the routine intensity a bit. You can choose various exercises, and still continue with 10 sets of 6 repetitions.

Day 1: Back and Chest

  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Barbell Incline Bench Press Medim-Grip
  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Pull-ups
  • 3 sets, 6 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Dumbbell Flyes
  • 3 sets, 6 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Seated Cable Rows

Day 2: Abs and Legs

  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Leg Press
  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Standing Calf Raise
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Crunches

Day 3: REST

Day 4: Shoulders and Arms

  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Lying Triceps Press
  • 10 sets, 6 reps (with 90 seconds rest) – Incline Dumbbell Curl
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Front Dumbbell Raise
  • 3 sets, 10 reps (with 60 seconds rest) – Reverse Flyes

This routine can be done for another three weeks, and continue with another cycle.

GVT Routine for Advanced Lifters

This program is often referred to as the four percent method. This means that you can increase your load 4 to 5 percent each workout session for two workout sessions in a row, and you can then reduce the target repetition by one repetition for every increase in weight. Afterward, you can then reduce the weight, also four to five percent, increasing the rep bracket to the original starting point.

Bottom Line

It should be understood that the GVT routine is a challenging one, especially if you are not yet used in doing so much volume with your standard workout sessions. As such, make sure that you consume a lot of protein, good carbs, and a lot of water while taking good multivitamins.

If you need to bust a plateau, or just achieve a new level of strength, then the GVT routine is a good option to take into consideration. A lot of lifters have been helped with this program, and there is no doubt that you can also experience the same benefits as well.

Why not give the German Volume Training routine a chance now?

Featured photo credit:  @strengthsensei1

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