GVT is not for the weak. This program is for experienced athletes only that wish to shock their muscles and shift into a hypertrophy phase like no other. This training protocol originated in Germany and hence the name “German Volume Training”. I’ve used this workout program many times over the years and I found it particularly useful at gaining muscle and getting ripped while preparing for bodybuilding competitions. This program is what comes to mind when I hear the phrase “pain and gain”.

Weekly workout schedule:

Monday Chest/Back Workout
Tuesday REST or 20min of Intervals
Wednesday Shoulders/Arms Workout
Thursday REST or 20min of Intervals
Friday Leg Workout
Saturday REST or Light Cardio/Cross-Train
Sunday REST or Light Cardio/Cross-Train



Exercise Sets Reps Tempo
Bench Press 10 10 4-0-2-1
Cable Back Row 10 10 4-0-2-1
Bicycle Crunch 10 10 1-0-1-0



Exercise Sets Reps Tempo
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 10 10 4-0-2-1
Neutral-Grip Chins 10 10 2-0-2-1
Dips 10 10 2-0-1-1
Reverse Crunch 10 10 2-0-1-1



Exercise Sets Reps Tempo
Squat 10 10 4-0-2-1
Lying Hamstring Curl 10 10 2-0-2-1
Vertical Chair Knee Raise 10 10 2-0-1-1


There are 3 weight-training workouts that you’ll be performing each week to hit every major muscle group. Each workout includes basic, compound movements to stimulate maximum muscle fibers and that’s why you are only performing 1-2 exercise per body part. You will notice that Friday is leg day and there are 2 days of REST or Light Cardio/Cross-Training that I recommend following that workout. If you do this program properly, your legs will be fried and light cardio or rest is about the only thing you’ll be able to manage during the days after. Also, the light cardio will help speed recovery and reduce stiffness after your brutal leg session.

I’ve added a core exercise to each workout. Stick with one exercise only so you don’t fatigue the core muscles to the degree that they’ll compromise your strength and technique during your compound lifts. The core exercise will also serve as some active recovery between each set.


For the compound exercises (that are the focus of this program), stick with 50 to 60% of your one rep max. Your goal should be to get 10 reps out of each set without going to complete failure. Perform the exercises listed back-to-back and rest for 1 minute between each set. Once you can complete a full workout with all the reps prescribed, increase the weight by about 5%.


It’s very important to control all movements and follow the prescribed lifting tempo for each exercise in the program. The lifting tempo used in this program is written in a sequence of four numbers (i.e. 4-0-2-1). The first number represents the eccentric phase, the second number represents the stretched phase, the third number represents the concentric phase, and the fourth number represents the peak contracted phase. The number assigned to each phase of the tempo represents the number of seconds you should take to complete each phase.

A recent study conducted at McMaster University showed that slower tempo training elicited greater responses in protein synthesis when compared to faster tempo training.1 Another study showed that longer time under tension per set resulted in greater EPOC and energy expenditure.2

Example of 4-0-2-1 Tempo:

4 = 4-second eccentric contraction (negative part of the movement)

0 = no pause at the “stretch” portion of the movement

2 = take 2 seconds for the concentric contraction (the actual pushing/pulling of the weight)

1 = take 1-second pause at the peak contraction of the movement



  1. Burd N.A., & Andrews R.J., et al. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. Jan 15;590(Pt 2):351-62.
  2. Scott, C.B. (2012). The effect of time-under-tension and weight lifting cadence on aerobic, anaerobic, and recovery energy expenditures: 3 submaximal sets. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. Apr;37(2):252-6.