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German Volume Training
German Volume Training

German Volume Training

Date: January 13, 2016

Supersets and triple sets allow you to do a huge amount of work in short periods of time.

The Rest Pause method allows you to use heavier weights to engage more muscle fibres. The bottom line is that any training method will be effective provided that you do it with the right intensity.

There is, however, one training system that ranks above all others.

It is brutally hard, but very effective for gaining muscles fast!

The Ten Sets method

This method is often called the Ten Sets Method, but because its roots are from German-speaking countries it is often also called German Volume Training.

This training system originated in Germany in the mid-1970s and was popularised by Rolf Feser, who was then the national weightlifting coach.

Vince Gironda promoted a similar process in the US.
In Germany, the ten sets method has been used to help weightlifters gain muscle mass in off season.

Thomas Benagli IFBB Pro performs dumbbell flys on an incline bench

It was so efficient that the weightlifters who followed this protocol went up a category in 12 weeks.

It was the basic programme for Canadian weightlifter Jacques Dermes, who won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Jacques was known in weightlifting circles for his massive thighs, and he gave credit to the German method for achieving such a high level of hypertrophy.

The same method was also used by Bev Francis in her early days as a body builder.
The programme works because it targets a group of motor units, exposing them to an extensive volume of repeated force, specifically, 10 sets of a single exercise.

The body adapts to the extraordinary stress causing the fibres to hypertrophy. This programme increases muscle mass quickly. 4-5 kg ??or more in 6 weeks of work are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters.

Objectives and guidelines

The goal of the German Volume Training method is to complete ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise.

You should start with a weight that allows you to carry out a maximum of 20 reps.

For most people, in most of the exercises, it represents approximately 60% of their 1RM load.
For lifters who are new this method, we recommend using the following breakdown of muscle groups:

Day 1: Chest and Back
Day 2: Legs and Abs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Arms and Shoulders
Day 5: Rest

When you carry out this exercise programme or any other, it is important to write down the reps you do and the rest intervals you take in a journal.

This way you will have the opportunity to try to improve with every workout session.

Marco Achille Gandolfi Vannini IFBB Pro carrying out cable curls

What you need to know

Rest intervals

When bodybuilders start using this working method, they often question its value and effectiveness because the weights are too light during the first sets.

However, the rest between sets is minimal (about 60 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when carrying out a superset), and this results in cumulative fatigue.

Given the importance of rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch. This is important, because there is always a temptation to prolong the rest times.



For long range movements, such as squats, pull ups and parallel bars, use a 4-0-2 time frame. This means that you should lower the weight in four seconds and then immediately lift it in two seconds.

Or try the negative phase for 4 seconds, positive phase for 2 seconds.

For movements, such as curls and tricep extensions, use a 3-0-2 time frame.


Number of exercises

One, and only one exercise should be carried out per muscle group. Therefore, choose exercises that engage more muscle fibres.

Kickbacks and leg extensions, for example, are not suitable for this training programme. Squats and bench presses are suitable exercises.

Forward pull ups

For extra work for the individual body parts (like the triceps and biceps), you can do 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.


Frequency of workouts

Because the programme is particularly intense, it will take longer to recover.

As a result, a training session for each muscle group every four or five days is more than enough.


Overload mechanism

Once you are able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, you can increase the weight by 4-5%.

Avoid doing forced reps, negative reps or burns.

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