German volume training (GVT) is an intense exercise program that builds the muscle mass and strength necessary for weightlifters to move beyond personal plateaus.

It’s sometimes called the 10-sets method. The training program involves high numbers of sets and repetitions with short resting periods in between. GVT stresses your muscles, which respond by triggering muscle growth.

This training method helps bodybuilders and weightlifters build strength, increase muscle size, and develop lean body weight.

While the training program is extremely difficult, its popularity lies in its potential to deliver impressive results in terms of building muscle strength and mass.

GVT works your muscles repetitively and forces them to work at a high intensity. The body responds to the stress of GVT by triggering muscle growth, known as hypertrophy.

While the GVT program calls for 10 sets of each exercise, you may see benefits when doing fewer sets. This can depend on your body’s unique reaction to the training program.

Some research points to the benefits of doing fewer than 10 sets. Researchers in a small 2017 study of 19 participants found that doing 5 or 10 sets of 10 repetitions was equally effective in improving:

  • muscle hypertrophy
  • strength
  • lean body mass

This evidence suggests that doing 4 to 6 sets of each exercise can bring results while avoiding plateauing or overtraining.

And a 2018 study of 12 participants reported that doing 5 sets of an exercise may be as effective as doing 10 sets in terms of muscle strength and hypertrophy. The group who did 10 sets saw a decrease in lean muscle mass between 6 and 12 weeks.

These findings suggest it may not be necessary to do more than 5 sets of an exercise. Further research is needed to explore this.

In GVT, a 10 x 10 workout entails doing 10 sets of 10 repetitions for 10 exercises.

Doing this number of sets and repetitions using a high volume ensures you’re working your muscles to their full capacity, which helps build strength and mass.

You can vary which exercises you do on different days. Some protocols call for fewer sets or repetitions for certain exercises. Use the same amount of weight for each set, increasing the load as you gain strength. Allow for 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets.

Alternate between muscle groups on different days so you don’t train the same muscle group more than once every few days. Allow for at least 1 full day of rest per week.

A few exercises to consider include:

A healthy eating plan goes hand in hand with GVT if you want to lose fat and build muscle. To get the best results, follow a solid nutrition plan that includes plenty of calories and healthy food options.

Include healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Experiment with bodybuilding supplements, such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine, to see what works for you.

Increase your protein intake, especially directly before and after your workout. Include healthy protein sources, such as lean meat, chicken, and fish. Vegetarian options include Greek yogurt, beans, and eggs. Vegan options include pumpkin seed, chia, and pea protein powders.

Complex carbohydrates provide energy and nourishment while helping build muscle. Healthy choices include oatmeal, quinoa, and whole grains.

Limit or avoid refined, simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks, fruit juice concentrates, and baked goods. Also limit or avoid your intake of deep-fried foods and alcohol.

Talk to a fitness professional if you’d like help to set clearly defined goals and devise a workout plan to get you there.

A fitness pro is also recommended for people who are new to fitness or bodybuilding, have medical concerns, or are recovering from an injury.

They’re also useful for people who want to break past their current plateau. GVT isn’t suitable for beginners, so a trainer can help you get in better shape so you can start a GVT program.

A personal trainer can make sure you’re using correct form and technique to maximize your results while preventing injury. They can also make sure you’re using the correct weight load and advise you on how many sets to do. They can determine an appropriate resting interval, too.

A fitness pro will also help motivate you when you’re feeling tired or discouraged. The accountability aspect of working with a professional means you may be more likely to stick to your workout plan.

German volume training (GVT) is a challenging program that effectively yields muscle gains.

Do a GVT session 2 to 3 times per week. The intensity of the program requires you to completely rest and recuperate between sessions. Change your routine frequently to avoid plateaus.

Discontinue the practice if you experience any pain or injuries. Once you’ve made a full recovery, you can start again.

Talk to your doctor before starting this exercise program if you’re new to exercise, take medications, or have any medical concerns.