If you’re sick of counting reps at the gym, try German volume training


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I’ll try basically anything in order to get stronger (hey, I’m a fitness editor). I’m bold and grab the heavy weights when I’m so inclined, I’ll do plenty of jump squats for the sake of butt sculpting, and, hell—I’m even suffering through a three month challenge with my fitness editor coworkers at SLT to gain a stronger core/legs/everything. But then I heard about a little something called “German volume training.”

The gist of it is this: 10 sets of 10 reps of a strength training move. The idea is that it places a ton of (good) stress on your body, resulting in stronger muscles that can then ideally lift more weight. “German volume training has been around since the early 70s and has many variations, but like a fine wine, it’s best not to mess with the main recipe and just stick to the tried and true volume-based method of 10 sets by 10 reps,” says Geoff Tripp, head of fitness at Trainiac. “It’s a pure mass and strength building program that will build  muscle and strength surrounding big lifts, and is based around your multi-joint lifts being trained one time every four to five day cycle with a longer recovery period so training adaptation can take place.”

It’s big in the body building world, but regular fitness devotees can incorporate it too if they’re simply looking to work on their weight training regimen—just know that it’s no joke. “One of the underlying reasons that German volume training effectively builds muscle mass is because it’s high stress placed on the body, which creates a large amount of micro-trauma within the muscles,” adds Stephen Foster, a trainer with Trainiac. “The stress results in hypertrophy and strength development, which means it’s time to increase intensity through weight.”

You can do it with practically any of your typical strength training moves. “My favorite moves [for GVT} are squats for legs, and wide or bench pull-ups for the upper body,” says Hunter McIntyre, creator of T-Minus 30 on Openfit, who adds that it’s great for CrossFit goers. Foster also prefers deadlifts, barbell back squats, and bent-over rows. “Or you can do smaller accessory lifts—bicep curls, triceps extension—as they can still be incorporated into the workout, just using lower volume, such as three sets of 10 reps,” he says. So if you’re looking to seriously upgrade your strength training game, give GVT a go (and be seriously badass).

In case you were wondering how strong you are, see if you can do the Army fitness test (it’s hard). To work up your strength, here’s why you should be looking at power in fitness

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