German volume training seems to be all the rage at the moment and the next “go to” thing for packing on mass, but is doing that much volume worth it?
For those that don’t know, German volume training is simply performing 10 sets of 10 reps of an exercise, ideally a compound exercise as I wouldn’t advise using isolation with this set/rep scheme. Now most of us know that the “secret” to continual progression can be to either increase volume or intensity but for the purposes of this article I’m going to solely focus on volume. A general example of volume would be:
Volume = Sets x Reps x Load (weight)
So by increasing one or more of those variables we can increase volume and with GVT we are obviously increasing the number of sets. However, there comes a point of diminishing returns in where more isn’t always better and most notably that the latter sets may only lead to marginal stimulation at the cost of prolonged soreness.
Furthermore the main issue I have with GVT or any of the other Gironda workouts (8×8 and 6×6) is the lack of emphasis on strength. The focus of these high sets by high reps workouts is to cram as much volume in as little time as possible (some of Girondas athletes were apparently having as little as 15 seconds rest between sets).
Now I know these are solely hypertrophy based workouts but I believe you can stimulate equal hypertrophy alongside progressing your strength with numerous other programs. Sure GVT (or the others) might be (and I say this loosely) a “shock to the muscles” but it allows for little progression and could possibly lead to prolonged fatigue.
One thing I did notice when I tried GVT (back in 2013) was the increased endurance and cardiovascular benefits it gave me. I tried GVT leading up to doing a Tough Mudder course and if I’m being honest I put off actually going running for far too long, but I guess doing 100 reps of a compound movement as fast as possible is essentially cardio, well endurance training at least.
So to summarize my take on GVT is that it it mostly a waste of time and I feel it epitomizes the opposite of the whole “stimulate don’t annihilate” concept. Also while I mentioned it might be decent for endurance training, it definitely won’t be anywhere near as beneficial as actual endurance training or sport specific training (e.g. if you’re training for a marathon, go run miles, don’t do 10 sets of 10 squats). Overall I believe you could be making much more efficient use of your time, however if you do fancy giving it a go then check out German volume training or Vince Girondas 8×8 and/0r 6×6 methods.