German Volume Training: The 10 Sets Method for Muscle Growth

German volume training, also known as the "Ten Sets" method, seemed to originate in Germany in the mid-70's and made popular by Rolf Feser, the German National Coach of Weightlifting.

Professional weightlifters would use this protocol during the offseason to successfully put on lean muscle mass. Eventually, it found its way to the United States and bodybuilders experienced decent success with this training system.

The theory behind the ten sets method is that by exposing a particular muscle group to a high degree of volume under the same load, a group of motor units are overexposed and forced to adapt by growing bigger. Although the theory is very simplistic and maybe not entirely accurate, it does have some logical and scientific basis as to why it works.

Note: The German Volume program calls for an unnecessary high volume of training for beginner & intermediate lifters. Even advanced lifters should only use this type of training in short cycles. For most people, its not the most optimal way to build lean muscle and a balanced physique...

Quick Tip: The fastest way to build lean muscle is to focus on a hypertrophy(muscle growth) specific, well-structured workout program that scientifically plans all of these things for you: 1) volume, 2) intensity, 3) frequency, 4) progression, 5) exercise selection, 6) periodization & MUCH more...

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

Objectives & Guidelines

The main objective of German Volume Training is to choose one weight for an exercise, and complete 10 sets of 10 repetitions with that same weight. So there's not pyramiding or dropsetting involved, the load remains the same througout the 10 sets.

When following this protocol, its important to complete all 10 repetitions on all 10 sets, which means that you'll probably have to choose a weight thats much lighter than your 10-rep maximum. A good guideline is to choose a weight that allows you to complete 20 reps to failure, or approximately 60% of your 1-rep maximum.

So lets say your 1-rep max on the Squat is 350 lbs, you would use 210 lbs as the load for the 10 sets. This will allow you to complete all 10 sets, which will become increasingly difficult to complete on the latter end, especially since the rest times are relatively low.

Keeping a detailed record of the number of sets and reps you performed is very important so you can track your progress and make continual improvements. Rest times should also be documented, and only reps completed with good form should be counted in the record.

Rest Intervals: the rest times should be kept to about 60-90 seconds for cumulative fatigue to occur. Otherwise, the sub-maximal loads won't yield a lot of benefit. This is the reason why many bodybuilders question this methodology, because the first few sets feel relatively light. However, with low rest times and the high number of sets, it will feel very challenging as you accumulate fatigue through the sets. Its important to be precise with the rest times to ensure accuracy.

Tempo: a slow tempo on the lowering(eccentric) phase and medium tempo on the lifting(concentric) phase. Depending on the range of the movement, the lowering phase should take about 3-4 seconds, immediately followed by a lifting phase that lasts 1-2 seconds.

Number of Exercises: For each muscle group, only 1 exercise should be performed. Since there's already a high volume with 10 sets, there isn't any room to add another exercise for a particular muscle group. Therefore, the exercises chosen should be compound movements such as Squats, Bench Presses and Lat Pulldowns.

Frequency: Due to the high volume, recovery times are also higher and frequent training cannot be sustained. For each muscle group, one session every 4-5 days is more than enough to stimulate muscle growth while allowing for adequate recovery.

Progression: The first goal is to be able to complete all 10 sets with 10 good repetitions, while resting only 60 seconds in between sets. Once you're able to complete the sets within the 60 second rest mark, increase the load by about 5% and work with it until you're consistent with 60 second rest intervals. There is no need to use intensifier techniques such as forced reps or dropsets because the high volume of the program will take care of muscle growth.

Sample German Volume Training Routine

   Day 1: Chest And Back

Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.
Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.

Optional: you can do additional specialization sets as follows:
Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.
Lat Pulldowns: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.

   Day 2: Legs And Abs

Barbell Squat: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.
Stiff-Legged Deadlift: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.

Optional: you can do additional specialization sets as follows:
Seated Calf Raise: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.
Hanging Leg Raise: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.

   Day 3: Off

   Day 4: Arms And Shoulders

Close-Grip Bench Press: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.
Barbell Curl: 10 sets of 10 reps. 60-90 seconds rest.

Optional: you can do additional specialization sets as follows:
Upright Rows: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.
Rear Delt Raises: 2-3 sets of 10 reps. 60 seconds rest.

   Day 5: Off

The duration of this routine would be about 6-8 weeks, after which 7-10 days should be taken as a complete break from training.

This is a challenging routine because each bodypart is exposed to a high degree of volume. Thats why its important to limit the total number of exercises and to do some additional specialization sets if needed. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water, because you'll feel a massive pump in your muscles after completing these sets!

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)