German Volume Training – 10 Sets Of 10 Reps

If you are at a plateau in your training or would just like to try something different, you should give the “German Volume Training” method a try. This is a great program for packing on muscle mass quickly.

The German Volume Training Workout was created back in the 1970’s. This routine became popular by Rolf Feser, who was the German National Weightlifting Coach at the time. The basis of the workout is to 10 sets of 10 reps.

This was used as an off-season workout to help Olympic Weightlifters gain lean body mass and shed excess bodyfat. It’s been said that weightlifters would often move up an entire weight class after just 12 weeks of following the 10 sets of 10 method of training.

Back in 1996 Charles Poliquin helped make the German Volume Training a mainstream workout by publishing it in the magazine – Muscle Media 2000. Since then it has been used by thousands of bodybuilders, powerlifters, weightlifters, and athletes across the globe to help gain muscular body weight.

The goal of the workout is to complete ten sets of ten reps for each exercise while keeping the rest periods short, approx. 1 minute rest between sets.

Charles Poliquin - german volume training

Start Light & Progress With Each Workout…

You’ll want to start conservative with your poundage’s as the shear volume of this workout will catch up with you very quickly. Start with about 50% of your 1 rep max, or a weight that you can do at least 20 reps with. It’s better to start off light and increase the weight from workout to workout and build on the momentum. It’s more fun to see the weights going up from week to week, rather than starting too heavy and having to drop back down in weight.

The first few sets will feel easy, almost like warm up sets.

But as you progress through the workout each set will get harder and harder.

And by the time you get to those final sets it will be down right brutal as fatigue sets in.

If you can get all 10 sets of 10 reps, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for your following workout.

But if you can’t complete all 10 sets of 10 reps, then keep the same weight for your next workout.

Just Click PLAY to watch the embedded video clip below…

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The Best Exercises For 10×10…

For this workout you do only 1 compound exercise per body part. Some good exercises include:

Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
(any angle flat, incline, decline – it’s your choice)

Barbell Rows or Cable Rows

Squats or Leg Press

Seated Barbell or Dumbbell Press

For smaller muscle groups such as biceps, triceps, calves, abs, etc. you can do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. (i.e. 3 sets of bicep curls, 3 sets of tricep push downs, 3 sets of calf raises, etc.)

Sample Workout Schedule…

Chest & Back
– one exercise for each and do 10 sets of 10 reps

Legs, calves, and abs
– 10 sets of 10 reps for legs
– 3 sets of 15+ reps for calfs and abs

Shoulders, biceps, and triceps
– 10 sets of 10 reps for shoulders
– 3 sets of 10+ reps for biceps and triceps

Take the rest of the week off from weight training. This will give your body plenty of time to rest and grow. Cardio is optional and can be done on your rest days from weight training if you want to do some exercise “everyday”.

Give this workout a try and please feel free to share your comments below…

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • Carlos Nells

    In the 50’s this was a popular system and I used it for two years. I didn’t have anywhere near the results these experts claim. It is exhausting mentally as well as physiologically. I think anyone foolish enough to do a prolonged experiment with this will be very disappointed and lose the desire to train at all.

  • Hey Lee,
    I find your tips simply superb, very easy , every intense , very effective..Man you make look body building so effortless job..
    Double Thumbs up !!

  • Damien

    I agree with Darshan. I started a strength program for change as i’ve hit a plateau. I was going into it excited by due to the high volume and repetitive use i had to take 5 weeks off due to a torn shoulder muscle. I also agree with advanced lifters actually loosing strength. I’m an advanced lifter and feel its almost like the reverse effect in that strength is lost as there isn’t enough tension on the muscle for about 4 weeks as the weight is low. Assuming this could be used as a 12 week program, the first 4 weeks are lost due to such a low weight being used. I clearly understand that the second half of a 12 week program would be very taxing….my concern is the light slow start to the program will reduce strength…and the heavy overuse and repetitive motion on the joints during the second half of the program with increase the chance of injury.

    That said, i will probably give it a go as i’m aware of Charles and his expertise in strength training.

    Great article Lee.

  • George Thomas

    if you look up charles poliquins version of this program he suggests that you only use it for three weeks then have a normal training week and come back to this program with i think 10 sets and 6 reps if you are an advanced lifter he also has an extra exercise for chest back and legs that you would do 3 sets of 10 reps during the volume part

    hope this helps anyone

  • Adam

    Reading some of your comments here, oh dear think your missing the point maybe???? If you did use this as a 12 week programme why wouldn’t you switch up body parts or exercises every 3 to 4 weeks??? so Monday chest and back flat bench and bent over rows for 3 weeks then do incline and pull ups on a monday for 3 weeks!!! Also adding a little 2.5kg on as you make progress is gonna increase the intensity. I’m guessing your gonna get very fit using this method and when you go back to heavy weights your form is gonna be excellent.

    I suggest if you are all getting injured then your thinking you can life a certain weight for 10 set of 10 reps and really you can’t and that’s screwing your form up. So lads lower your weight and loose the ego, either that or get on some serious juice lol I know which one I’d do lol

  • Adam

    OMG there’s even a free download of a 12 week programe YOU CANNOT GO WRONG! Lee you think of everything lol Tough crowd in the US tough crowd! LOL Keep up the good work 😉 Big love from the UK

  • Thanks for sharing your feedback guys, and I agree with what’s being said. But you need to realize where this program came from to see the benefits of it. So this is my 2 cents worth…

    “This was used as an OFF-SEASON workout to help Olympic Weightlifters gain lean body mass and shed excess bodyfat.”

    This is NOT a program to peak out your strength or prepare for a lifting competition, it was used in the off-season. So just picture a weight lifter who has trained for and competed in a competition, chances are he will be borderline overtraining at that stage. So by switching to a program that uses lighter weights, higher volume, and more time under tension would serve as a de-load phase to help him recover from the heavy lifting. This would give his central nervous system a break from the stress associated with max effort lifts and provide some unique muscle stimulation from the different training protocols at the same time.

  • Hi lee, Keep up the good work with a variety of training techniques. After all its the change thats going to get those muscles to grow.

    What I find difficult about this training technique is that it does not allow you to squeeze the muscle to its final point of fatigue – if the weight is not heavy enough. If its too heavy then the last few sets are a waste of time as the muscle is fatigued/ cramped/ damaged from using a too heavy a weight. So… you really have to be able to fine tune the weight you select.As for increasing it week after week…watcha smokin’ man. ”Hey Lee I’m benchin’ 2000lbs, dja tink I should change de programme?!”

    I find I have varying levels of strength when I hit the gym depending on what I ate and when and the last workout. So I find varying the weight and the number of reps works best for me. I can tire the muscle (after a good warm up of a 20+ rep set or two with very light weights ) by using increasingly heavy weights.

  • Adam


    yeah I listened to that bit. To be fair half these guys ain’t even doing competitions. I do martial arts and I like to do weights and fitness too. Guys just want to put mental wrights on the bar and do crap half rep things all the time. The information is staring them in the face and they still don’t hear it. I like this type of training and haven’t done it for a while so will be trying it out. I was always taught good form and listen to your body and that’s my 2 pence worth which is roughly 1 and half cents haha

  • Ali Bhoy

    Hi Lee, just wondering would u recommend doin this type of training while taking creatine and zma or is it the wrong type of training for these supplements?

  • Frank

    i actually use to do this routine it helped me lose body fat,but not gain any lean mass.why is that lee?

  • Ali Bhoy:
    Hi Lee, just wondering would u recommend doin this type of training while taking creatine and zma or is it the wrong type of training for these supplements?


    Your workouts don’t change because you are taking creatine or any other supplements.

  • Frank:
    i actually use to do this routine it helped me lose body fat,but not gain any lean mass.why is that lee?


    In order to gain mass you need to be in a caloric surplus. So if you didn’t gain any weight or you lost weight it simply because you never ate enough to grow.

  • Sam

    For this 10×10 Volume workout you need to be on some kind of dope.
    My workout is the direct opposite: I only do 1 set of squats and 1 set of bench press and 2 sets for the others.
    I look forward to each workout. I’m really enthused as I’m gaining muscle mass (very slowly but surely).

  • Brett

    Just curious, you’re only hitting biceps and triceps once per week and only 3 sets. I feel like that is not enough for them to grow, is it something to do with the back and chest day that works them quite a bit as well?

  • Bob McCloud

    I’m 66 and retired, been weight training since 1974. This 10×10 routine is GREAT !!!
    Do chest and back Mondays, stepper on Wednesdays and shoulders and bench dips
    on Fridays. Also 10-12 reps, 3 sets of standing ez-curls on Mondays and Fridays.
    Too bad I didn’t hear about this 30 years ago. I have energy like I had in my forties.
    From the neck down I don’t look over 40. Amazing,,, Thanks,,, Bob Mc

  • Ahh yes. The dreaded GVT. I make a point to do this twice a year for 4-6 weeks. If I remember correctly, it demands you do slow negatives too. 4-0-2 for big compounds lifts and 3-0-2 for the isolation lifts.

    Last time I did it, I did 10 sets of squats for 6 reps with something like 90kg and that ruined me. But the growth was great! I’ll definitely do this again!!