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German Volume Training Part Two

Beyond the origins of GVT in the 1970’s the late Canadian Strength Coach Charles Poliquin took the system further with pairing agonist antagonist exercises and introducing time under tension (tempo) to the protocol.

Charles went further however and enhanced the programme to not only involve a accumulation/volume phase but also an intensification/intensity phase, referred to as Advanced German Volume Training. This progression allowed for an individual to increase strength and lean mass without impacting on weight, thus increase their strength to weight ratio.

Recovery Phase

On completion of the original GVT, Charles programmed a three week phase of training using the same split as GVT (Chest & Back; Legs; Arms) using a rep range of six to eight over three sets. This aids with recovery due to a lower volume of training, however due to the reduction in reps a high load can be used, thus maintaining strength levels and lean mass.

Advanced GVT

On completion of this recovery phase you start Advanced GVT which is an intensity based programme. The principle is very similar to the original GVT in that you perform 10 sets, however during this phase the number of reps completed per set is five, with 100 seconds between sets using the agonist antagonist pairing as with the original GVT. With GVT you started with a load that represented approximately 60% of your 1RM, with the advanced method you should start with a load that represents approximately 75% of you 1RM.

Similarly to GVT the weight will feel comfortable for the prescribed reps, with accumulative fatigue increasing set by set you will find that you will not be able to complete all reps, if you have selected the appropriate load. Only once you are able to complete all 10 sets of five reps do you increase the load 2.5-5kg.

Typical Coach Poliquin Advanced GVT workout

A1 Heels Elevated Front Squat 5 reps @ 4-0-X-0 rest 100 seconds

A2 Lying Leg Curl 5 reps @ 3-0-X-0 rest 100 seconds – go back to A1

As with GVT after the completion of the two main exercises accessory exercises are used in a B1/B2 series. Using the above example the B1/B2 series would be as follows over three sets;

B1 Farmers walk 40 metres 90 seconds rest

B2 Glute Ham Raise 6 – 8 reps @ 4-0-X-0 rest 90 seconds – go back to B1

Training Split

Each muscle would be trained once a week, with the split being:

- Day 1: Chest & Back

- Day 2: Quadriceps and Hamstrings

- Day 3: Off

- Day 4: Biceps and Triceps

- Day 5: Off

- Day 6: Repeat

Advanced GVT is beneficial for athletic populations, advanced lifters, where performing more than six reps wields little results, and for individuals who are focusing on strength.

Common Mistakes

As discussed in part one of GVT in my experience coaches, athletes and trainees alike for one reason or another alter the programme design, by doing so you change the physiology of the training effect and response of the programme. Use multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises such as Incline Barbell Bench Press and Pull Ups to stimulate the greatest number muscle fibres and growth hormone, use the appropriate loading parameters and only increase the load on successful completion of all 10 sets of five reps. Use the appropriate time under tension for each exercise, strength is about control, if you are erratic when moving weight you not in control of the load and teaching your central nervous system inefficient movement patterns which could lead to injury, reduced progress, and poor results. The training split remains the same as the original 10 GVT.

Progressing Advanced GVT

Charles through the years based on research and hundreds of hours of coaching, recording athlete programmes evolved many of his programmes.

One of methods used by Charles was to increase the load and reduce the reps for three consecutive workouts, and would look like the following;

Workout One

Set 1: 100kg x 5

Set 2: 100kg x 5

Set 3: 100kg x 5

Set 4: 100kg x 5

Set 5: 100kg x 5

Set 6: 100kg x 5

Set 7: 100kg x 4

Set 8: 100kg x 4

Set 9: 100kg x 3

Set 10: 100kg x 3

Workout Two – increase the load 5kg and aim to complete 10 sets of four reps

Set 1: 105kg x 4

Set 2: 105kg x 4

Set 3: 105kg x 4

Set 4: 105kg x 4

Set 5: 105kg x 4

Set 6: 105kg x 4

Set 7: 105kg x 4

Set 8: 105kg x 4

Set 9: 105kg x 4

Set 10: 105kg x 4

Workout Three – increase the load form workout one by 10kg and aim to complete 10 sets of three reps

Set 1: 110kg x 3

Set 2: 110kg x 3

Set 3: 110kg x 3

Set 4: 110kg x 3

Set 5: 110kg x 3

Set 6: 110kg x 3

Set 7: 110kg x 3

Set 8: 110kg x 3

Set 9: 110kg x 3

Set 10: 110kg x 3

In workout four use the load in workout two and aim for 10 sets of five reps. Workout five use the load from workout three and aim to complete 10 sets of four reps. Workout six you should be able to perform 10 sets of three reps @ 115-120kg.

Sample Advanced GVT Workout

Chest & Back

Incline Barbell Press 10 x 5 40X0 100secs

Lean Away Chins 10 x 5 40X0 100secs

Dips 3 x 6-8 40X0 90secs

Dumbbell Arc Row 3 x 6-8 40X0 90secs


Heels Elevated Front Squat 10 x 5 40X0 100secs

Lying Leg Curl (toes out) 10 x 5 40X0 100secs

Dumbbell Lunge 3 x 6-8 30X0 90secs

Romanian Deadlift 3 x 6-8 30X0 90secs

Day 3 – Off


Incline Off-set Dumbbell Curls 10 x 5 30X0 100secs

Close Grip Bench 10 x 5 30X0 100secs

Thick Bar Reverse Curls 3 x 6-8 30X0 90secs

Seated EZ French Press 3 x 6-8 30X0 90secs

Take Away

GVT and Advanced GVT are not for the faint of heart, however done correctly you will gain lean mass and strength. As with any training system and protocol there is a time and a place for it in your programming, and it may not be appropriate for your goals.

Give GVT and advanced GVT a try and see where it takes your hypertrophy and strength levels.

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