If you are not familiar with GVT, here are the cliff notes. Also known as the 10 sets method, GVT is a program based on pure volume. The original platform developed in Germany and made popular in the US by strength coaching legend Charles Poliquin consisted of 10 sets of 10 for two opposing muscle groups (chest and back). Charles Poliquin wrote a revision to the program termed Advanced GVT, that still uses 10 sets but uses lower reps that descend as the weeks go by.
Having personally used and coached both variations here are a few things I noticed. When I first did the original GVT, I didn’t finish i. It was back in college and my nutrition was poor, and it totally depleted my system. I was unable to increase weights, and it was just too draining overall. My chest felt like dead meat after the first workout, and never recovered. So if you are going to take on a volume program of any type, nutrition and recovery are extremely important. If you don’t have the time to perfect your nutrition and sleep, don’t bother doing volume training. You will fail miserably. Your results will be muscle loss, depression, and feeling like a wimp.
Now let’s fast forward a few years to a Kassem that is eating paleo, supplementing properly with nutrients and using BCAA’s during workout etc. After reading Charles’ article on Advanced GVT, I was instantly reminded of the horrible failure that was my first experience with GVT. This program really excited me because a few of the things that I believed were issues in the original trial, were addressed. The AGVT had more variation in that you would alternate between two workouts, so it would be 10 days before you performed the same exercise again. It was lower reps, meaning respectable weights could be used, and thus strength gains would be more prevalent. The reps were also lowered every cycle from 5 to 4 to 3, and then repeated. This allowed for progressive load, which I find a great principle for a program that is tough. It makes sure you progress to heavier weights, and gives you a mental edge going into the program because you are using heavier weights each time.
Overall I think the improvement Charles made drastically improved the program. It is much more effective for the advanced trainee because the loads are more appropriate, and it is much more tolerable program because of the greater variation and progressive loading. I liked the new program so much better, I decided to incorporate a mixture of the two that has worked really well for myself and several clients as well. Basically, my thinking was that the 10×10 was too hard for an advanced trainee on volume and didn’t provide adequate loads to be used with that many reps, but at the same time the 5,4,3, rep method might be too low for a less experienced trainee. So I took the principles of the AGVT and just increased the reps to a 10-8-6 format. The loads are increased by around 10% at each drop in repetitions. Other than those two factors, I followed the AGVT outline precisely. I like the bigger drop in weights for the beginner because their rate of improvement should be fast and, as stated earlier, it creates a lot of positive enforcement when you are progressing to heavier and heavier weights.
So for anyone who has maybe tried one of the GVT programs, this could be another variation to incorporate. I personally like to use it as an entry level volume program for someone before putting them on AGVT down the road. I find this a very good program for those who call themselves hard gainers, because it actually gets them to train hard. Ultimately the goal should be to develop enough strength to follow the AGVT program which I find to be very effective.
My tips before starting a GVT Program
1. Perfect your sleep
2. Make sure your nutrition is great (eating paleo and organic)
3. Have the supplements on hand (BCAA’s, multis, fish oils, magnesium, protein, anti-oxidants, greens, reds)
4. Get your body fat down first so you can have carbs post workout.
5. Prepare to be sore, depressed, and beat up. But if you do it right, the results are worth it!
For a full description of the workout including exercises and variables read Charles Poliquin’s articles on GVT and AGVT below
GVT – The original German Volume Training
AGVT – Advanced German Volume Training