Volume Training (Includes Volume Training Workouts)

Volume Training

Volume training workouts are among the most popular forms of bodybuilding workouts these days. There are many reasons for this, mainly because they work well for putting on muscle mass. Secondly because a lot of the top bodybuilders use volume training and influences a lot of people to follow suit.

Volume training works very well as it gets a lot of nutrient rich blood pumping through the muscles and also puts a fair bit of tension onto the muscles. Without going into all the scientific mumbo jumbo about this style of training, volume training can add on muscle mass fast.

Volume training can also provide you with a great muscle pump, which can give you a great feeling in the gym. We’ll not start getting into the old arguements as to whether the muscle pump is needed for muscle growth. Some argue that is is needed to stretch the fascia of the muscles to provide space for growth. Some argue it is only the a temporary effect and has no effect on future muscle growth. Which ever side of the fence you fall on I think it is wise to get a pump some of the time. Might as well cover our bases and enjoy the feeling of walking about gym feeling like Johnny Bravo.

Volume Training Routines

Now before you jump out of your chair now to start blasting your biceps with tonnes of volume in the hope of packing on lots of muscle mass. It is important to understand some important points about volume training. To many people fall for the usual mistakes and use extreme volumes of training, similar to pro bodybuilders. Unfortunately unless you have their genetics and are using the same amount of steroids as them. Extreme Volume training will not do diddly squat for you. Pro bodybuilders have elite muscle building genetics which helps them recover faster. Couple this with steroids and you can begin to understand how they pack on so much muscle.

Having said that, volume training workouts can and should have their place among a muscle building program. Just not as much as the pro’s use.

Volume Training Workouts

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So that we are all on the same page when it comes to volume training. We will define it here as specific muscle building training where we use large volume training. Or in other words high reps, sets and exercises during a workout. Of course that is not to say that more volume is better as enough weight must be used to stimulate your muscles. Lets face it marathon runners are not known for there bulging thighs and they do more volume than many. So enough weigh must be used as well as volume to induce muscle growth.


There are different types of volume training, with their own specific purpose. The traditional volume training a bodybuilder would use is doing one body part per workout, which is usually a 5 times a week schedule. If you are unsure how to structure this type of workout feel free to shoot me an email at william@bodybuildingworkoutsinfo.org. I would however advise you to try the this style of training shown below which has proven time and again to pack on muscle mass fast.

German Volume Training

German volume training is a proven style of volume training which has provide great results to countless gym rats. It was popularised by Charles Poliquin in the Western world, so I will quote below his praises for the program:

There is, however, one training system that stands above all the rest. It’s brutally hard, but I’ve found it to be a very effective way to pack on muscle fast!

In strength-coaching circles, this method is often called the “ten sets method.” Because it has its roots in German-speaking countries, I like to call it German Volume Training. To the best of my knowledge, this training system originated in Germany in the mid-’70’s and was popularized by Rolf Feser, who was then the National Coach of Weightlifting. A similar protocol was promoted by Vince Gironda in the U.S., but regardless of who actually invented it, it works.

In Germany, the ten-sets method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass. It was so efficient that lifters routinely moved up a full weight class within 12 weeks.

The program works because it targets a group of motor units, exposing them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts, specifically, 10 sets of a single exercise. The body adapts to the extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers. To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement. Gains of ten pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters!

Goals & Guidelines

The goal of the German Volume Training method is to complete ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise. You want to begin with a weight you could lift for 20 reps to failure if you had to. For most people, on most exercises, that would represent 60% of their 1RM load. Therefore, if you can bench press 300 lbs for 1 rep, you would use 180 lbs for this exercise.

For lifters new to this method, I recommend using the following body-part splits:

Day 1 – Chest & Back
Day 2 – Legs & Abs
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Arms & Shoulders
Day 5 – Off

When using this program or any other, you should keep a detailed journal of the exact sets/reps and rest intervals performed, and only count the repetitions completed in strict form. Here are a few more guidelines to ensure optimal progress:

Rest Intervals: When bodybuilders start with this method, they often question its value for the first several sets because the weight won’t feel heavy enough. However, there is minimal rest between sets (about 60 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a superset), which incurs cumulative fatigue. (Interestingly enough, you might find you get stronger again during the eighth and ninth sets. This is because of a short-term neural adaptation.) Because of the importance of the rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch to keep the rest intervals constant. This is very important, as it becomes tempting to lengthen the rest time as you fatigue.

Tempo: For long-range movements such as squats, dips, and chins, use a 4-0-2 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift for two seconds. For movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 3-0-2 tempo.

Number of Exercises: One, and only one, exercise per body part should be performed. Therefore, select exercises that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Triceps kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely out; squats and bench presses are definitely in. For supplementary work for individual body parts (like triceps and biceps), you can do 3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Training Frequency: Because this is such an intense program, it’ll take you longer to recover. In fact, if you’re familiar with the writings of Peter Sisco and John Little, you’ll find that the average “Power Factor Rating” of the 10-sets method is about 8 billion. Consequently, one training session every four to five days per body part is plenty.

Overload Mechanism: Once you’re able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by 4% to 5%, and repeat the process. Refrain from using forced reps, negatives, or burns. The volume of the work will take care of the hypertrophy. Expect to have some deep muscle soreness without having to resort to set prolonging techniques. In fact, after doing a quad and hams session with this method, it takes the average bodybuilder about five days to stop limping.

Beginner / Intermediate Program: Phase 1

This is a sample routine based on a five-day cycle. Once you’ve used this method for six workouts per body part, it’s time to move on to a more intensive program for a three-week period.

German Volume Training: Day 1 – Chest and Back

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest Interval
A-1 Decline Dumbbell Presses, Semi-Supinated Grip(palms facing each other)10104 0 2 090 sec
A-2 Chin-Ups (palms facing you)10104 0 2 090 sec
B-1 Incline Dumbbell Flyes310-123 0 2 060 sec
B-2 One-Arm Dumbbell Rows310-123 0 2 060 sec

Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each “A” exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each “B” exercise and each superset. Incidentally, I only recommend three sets of ten in this program for the “B” exercises. The “B” exercises constitute supplementary work, and doing ten sets of them would result in overtraining.

German Volume Training: Day 2 - Legs and Abs

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest Interval
A-1 Back Squats10104 0 2 090 sec
A-2 Lying Leg Curls10104 0 2 090 sec
B-1 Low-Cable Pull-Ins315-202 0 2 060 sec
B-2 Seated Calf Raises315-202 0 2 060 sec

Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each “A” exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each “B” exercise and each superset.

German Volume Training: Day 4 - Arms and Shoulders

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest Interval
A-1 Parallel Bar Dips10104 0 2 090 sec
A-2 Incline Hammer Curls10104 0 2 090 sec
B-1 Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises310-122 0 X 060 sec
B-2 Seated DumbbellLateral Raises310-122 0 X 060 sec

Notes: Rest 90 seconds between each “A” exercise and each superset; rest 60 seconds between each “B” exercise and each superset. “X” in the tempo means to move as fast as possible, keeping the weight under control.

You should only do this volume training routine for 3 weeks then switch to another style of training to prevent muscle adaptation and stagnation.  Strength training routines after German Volume Training works very well so you may want to look into that.

So there you have one of the best and proven volume training routines to hopefully get you putting on some muscle.  If you try it and it works, feel free to let me know.  I like to hear how people get on to help get the real word out on different muscle building techniques.

Charles Poliquin has a bonus section in Will Brink’s Bodybuilding Revealed if you would like a great complete system.  You can check it out here:  Click here to see Bodybuilding Revealed

That’s all for today, hope you enjoyed the volume training method.

Check out this fantastic muscle building program for skinny guys: Click here to put on muscle fast

About William

William is a personal trainer in Belfast.
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