German Volume Training: The Ultimate Mass Builder

When most people think about putting on muscle mass, they usually associate heavy weights with lower reps.  I have had great success with a lower rep range, but sometimes it is necessary to lighten the load and bust out higher reps.  Conventional training tells us that if you are doing higher reps, keep the number of sets down to avoid over training.  However, one type of training calls for extremely high volume; 10 reps by 10 sets to be exact.  This is normally called German Volume Training because it has roots in German speaking countries.  Some German lifters gained 10 lbs in a month and even went up in weight class in 12 weeks.

Using a compound movement, the massive amount of work load in the 10 sets targets the motor units to promote muscular hypertrophy.  The main goal is to keep the same amount of weight throughout the 10 sets.  There are two methods of finding the correct weight: use a weight that you can perform 20 reps or 60% of your 1RM.

The most efficient way to divide this system up is on a 5 day split:

  • Monday – Chest and Back
  • Tuesday – Legs and Abs
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Arms and Shoulders
  • Friday – Off

This will give you plenty of time for recovery because you will need every second of it!  When you first begin this routine, you think that it is not enough weight, but once you get to the 6th and 7th set, things become much tougher.  In order to keep the intensity up, you will want to have a rest period of 60 seconds.  If you plan on super setting, for example, your chest and back exercises, you can have rest periods of 90 -120 seconds.  Be sure to have a stop watch or a wrist watch to make sure you are keeping accurate time on the rest periods.

Since the sheer amount of volume takes care of the hypertrophy, there is only a need for one exercise.  This means that this exercise should be a compound or multiple joint movements in order to utilize as many muscle groups as possible.  Movements like bench press, squats and rows are your best bet.  On your leg and chest day, there will be accessory exercises to promote growth in the different areas of the muscle group.

Here’s a sample routine that can be used:

  • Monday: Chest and Back
  • Decline Barbell Bench Press – 10 sets x 10 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Rows – 10 sets x 10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Flys – 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 sets x 10 -12 reps


  • Tuesday: Legs and Abs
  • Back Squats – 10 sets x 10 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 10 sets x 10 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets x 15 -20 reps
  • Calf Raises – 3 sets x 15 – 20 reps


  • Wednesday: Off


  • Thursday: Arms and Shoulders
  • Dips – 10 sets x 10 reps (you can use body if needed)
  • Incline Hammer Curls – 10 sets x 10 reps
  • Lateral Raises – 3 sets x 10 -12 reps
  • Bent Over Lateral Raises – 3 sets x 10 – 12 reps


  • Friday: Off

With this program you will be kicking up the intensity, so make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, eating properly and stretching.  You will be extremely sore, especially after leg days.  Since you are keeping the rest intervals down, you should in and out of the gym in less than an hour.  If you are taking longer than that, it is time to speed things up!