German Volume Training Guide
I started German Volume Training again after my break from training over Christmas. The logic was simple – add some muscle in the early part of the year. It’ll also help offset any muscle loss through training for a few endurance events this summer!
I’ve written about German Volume Training before – I have used it a few times over the years. The last time I wrote about it was here, in 2012.
Since then I have learnt more about training and effective programming, meaning my thoughts on the approach have changed. I’m also a few years older and have had to deal with one or two injuries during this time, so I’ve factored those aspects into the article.
The basic pattern of the workouts are similar to the original German Volume Training principles – 10 x 10 on a couple of main compound lifts, with 3 x 10 on the accessory lifts. The new approach I have to German Volume Training is to tweak the basic premise, not wholesale change it. After all, the premise wasn’t broken – my exercise selection and lack of variety was.
1. Include a wider variety of exercises.
I have suffered a few injuries due to muscle tightness – mostly thanks to internal rotation of the shoulders when I’m driving and working at my computer. The poor posture had given me a tight chest which manifested itself with shoulder pain.
To avoid the repetitive movement patterns and making the injuries worse, I’ve added a wider variety of exercises to the programme, for example I alternate dumbbell and barbell bench presses, dumbbell and barbell rows rather than doing all of my chest work with a barbell bench press.
2. Hit the muscles from different angles.
Following from the last point, I believe there is extra benefit from German Volume Training if the workouts have exercises hitting the muscles from a wider variety of angles. Previously I focussed on a strict set of exercises that I repeated. This time, I have programmed much more variety into the workouts, which has really helped.
The variety needn’t be anything drastic – I have varied bench angle for pressing movements, mixed lunges with squats, interchanged barbell and dumbbell exercises. All simple, but effective tweaks to the training programme.
3. More focus on stretching.
Any programme that requires 10 sets of a single exercise will create a certain amount of muscle tightness, given the sheer amount of repetitive movement in a single plane. To combat this I have made sure I have upped my stretching and foam rolling which has helped with the soft tissue protection.
If you are over 30, this is extra important as the recovery powers drop as we age!
4. Don’t do this when trying to lose weight.
German Volume Training is HARD. It’s a lot of volume, it’s a lot of lifting and it requires a lot of energy. Don’t try to do this without the fuel on board because you’ll burn out very quickly. This is for gaining size, so only do it when your calories are higher. Trying to do German Volume Training on a fat loss phase will be almost pointless as you just wouldn’t have the energy to complete the workouts in the way they are designed to be done.
With the lessons I learned in mind, this is the German Volume Training program I have followed since the second week in January. Give it a try and see what you think….
By the way – you will notice I haven’t programmed any core work into the workouts. I have been doing either Swiss ball planks or Russian twists at the end of a workout, usually 3 sets. It has been sufficient given a lot of the core involvement in exercises such as squats and deadlifts.
To see how my thoughts on German Volume Training have evolved, here is a look at my original article on the subject in 2012.