German Volume Training for General Preparatory Phase

As far as ‘weight loss challenges’ go, we have a pretty hard stance at Hammer Athletic. We flat out don’t run them. You can visit our Hammerology blog to read the ins and outs but put simply – we don’t believe that short term weight focused goals are beneficial to the longevity of your health, fitness or body composition.

We do however, see the value in performing focused strength and conditioning programs as part of a greater periodised plan that offer performance progressions where body composition and muscle mass is often positively affected as a result. German Volume Training is one such program and kicks off our General Preparatory Phase (GPP) for 2016.

German Volume Training (or GVT) is a methodology that dates back to the 70’s made popular by a coach named Rolf Feser. This method of resistance training is incorporates 10 sets of 10reps on a 60-90sec turnaround at roughly 50-65% of your 1 repetition maximum (about a 5 or 6 out of 10 in intensity).

GVT is built around three simple, core principles:

One Exercise. You perform one exercise per body part. That’s it. We stick with heavier, compound-style lifts that tax major muscle groups.

100 Reps. For each exercise, you will be performing 10 sets of 10 reps. We start with 50 to 60% of your one rep max for that lift and perform as many reps as possible for each of the 10 sets. We will not be training to failure, just close to failure. GVT is taxing enough without training to failure.

Rest Pause. We will be resting approximately 60-90 second between sets. Limiting rest like this will force us to decrease the load. You’re already working with weights slightly above half of your 1RM. It does you no good to use lighter weights then this. For most exercises, a 60 second rest works best. For big, beefy and taxing exercises like the squat, 90 seconds is needed.

Hypertrophy benefits

Feser utilized this for his Olympic lifting athletes to dramatically increase muscle mass in order to get some of his lifters in to the next weight class. He had outstanding results with some jumping upwards of 10pounds of muscle within 6 weeks. This is great because the greater the muscle cross-sectional area, the more muscle force can be produced.

This muscle growth or hypertrophy stems from the massive release of anabolic hormones secreted by the body in response to the huge muscle stimulus. When we train big muscle groups with big compound movements our body releases anabolic (muscle building) hormones like testosterone, insulin like growth factor 1 and growth hormone. Short rest periods in between sets also invoke a high lactic acid response which correlates with a high testosterone release. A high mechanical stress over huge muscle cross-sectional with minimal recovery times creates the perfect environment for muscle growth. No wonder Feser’s athletes got great results.

Side effects

Always read the label. Along with the anabolic (muscle growth) hormones, there are also a variety of catabolic (muscle eating) hormones released because of the sheer stress the system is under. Hormones like cortisol and interleukin-6 (to name a few) are released in response to the damage such training creates.

The trick is to ensure that this type of training is not sustained over long periods of time. This will ensure that you avoid overtraining and negative consequences as a result. If periodised properly, where the stimulus and exercise prescription is met with right amount of rest and progression, the body will have sufficient time to heal and promote that anabolic environment we are seeking.


I don’t want to get ‘bulky’

Firstly, you’re not an elite lifter whereby stimulus like this will get such a rapid growth like Fesers’ athletes (unless you are, in which case you probably won’t be bothered anyway). Elite athletes are usually what we call responders and any stimulus they go through will affect them quite quickly and profoundly. For most of us, it takes a bit more than a 4-week program to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. We everyday folk will, however, get some good muscle gains.

Having more muscle mass increases our resting metabolic rate and nothing burns more calories than our resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolic rate is the value of energy the body needs to function. For example: every day I need 3000 calories to live, to keep my heart pumping, my brain working and all the other stuff that goes on in my body. So after a training stimulus like this for a month my basal metabolic rate will rise to 3200 or even more as now I have more muscle to feed energy too. Over the week I’m burning an extra 1400 calories doing nothing. You do that and put your exercise calories on top of that you have a more efficient calorie and fat burning system.

In summary, correctly periodised GVT will help you to put muscle mass on and reduce fat. Not only that, but it serves as a general preparatory phase for your next 6 month’s training plan. It provides us a base for us to achieve better results with further training as opposed to focusing on the short term.

To get involved in our GVT Clinic, click here.

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