Training Systems

German Volume Training with Bodyweight

German volume training with bodyweight is a training method that allows gaining muscle mass without adding too much weight. Hence, it is an ideal add-on to calisthenics training programs.

What Is German Volume Training?

GVT is composed of 10 sets of 10 repetitions with short rest periods between sets. German Volume Training (GVT) exhausts those muscle fibers with higher hypertrophy thresholds. It is a demanding yet effective training system to increase muscle mass.

German volume training was invented by a German bodybuilder named Poliquin. German Volume Training is based on the idea that instead of doing a lot of sets with different weights to achieve muscle mass, you only need to do a few sets with 60% of one-rep max (1RM). 

Benefits of GVT Bodyweight Training

German Volume Training with bodyweight is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • It induces muscle hypertrophy without the need to add much weight.
  •  GVT can be added to any calisthenics training program to add variety to the exercise.
  • It promotes hypertrophy by increasing the number of motor units at rest/preparatory tension. 
  • It stimulates the release of anabolic hormones that contributes to overall muscle mass.
  • GVT enhances Excessive Post-Workout Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) which will help with fat burning and the development of lean muscle mass.

How to Perform German Volume Training with Bodyweight 

Start your first set of 10×10 bodyweight workout with an amount of weight that you can perform about 20 repetitions. This amount of load corresponds to approximately 60% of 1RM. Since in German Volume Training with bodyweight, we can’t calculate the pressure by weight, this is a suitable method to gauge the amount of load.

Perform 10 repetitions in your first set. Your first couple of GVT calisthenics sets may sound easy since you start with a medium load, but as you continue it will get harder. By your fifth or sixth set, you might be unable to complete all 10 repetitions, which is expected.

At that point, don’t reduce the pressure. You don’t need to complete all 10 reps and reach muscle failure.

Overload Mechanism in 10×10 Calisthenics Training

Once you could complete 10 sets of 10 German Volume Training with bodyweight, it’s time to increase the amount of pressure. Increase the load on the target muscle by about 5 percent.  

This increase in the load will be the new starting point for your German Volume Training. Once more, you will not be able to complete all 10 repetitions after the initial sets. After about 6 weeks, you can take a break from 10×10 GVT.

Rest Intervals in German Volume Training with Bodyweight

GVT with bodyweight like GVT with weight has a scheme of 10 sets and 10 repetitions. In order to add to the intensity of the exercise, rest intervals are as short as 60 seconds for one main exercise. If you are alternating between two different exercises, i.e. bodyweight superset, rest intervals can be between 90 and 120 seconds. Interestingly, you may realize that you get stronger in your 8th or 9th set. This happens due to neural adaptation during the bodyweight GVT.

Due to the volume of the exercise and shortness of rest intervals, the intensity of the exercise should be reduced, according to the personal trainer  Don Saladino who trained superhero actors.

Rest time between sets in 10×10 bodyweight workouts is very important. It is recommended to use a stopwatch because we tend to extend rest intervals once we reach fatigue.

Tempo of German Volume Training with Bodyweight

For movements that involve a longer range use a 4-0-2-0 tempo. It means that your eccentric portion of the movement takes 4 seconds, then immediately do the concentric part in about 2 seconds. Note that there is zero second pause at the top and bottom of the movement. It includes movements such as squat, dip, and chin-ups.

For German Volume Training with bodyweight in shorter ranges such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, and rows use a 3-0-2-0 tempo. It means your eccentric portion of the movement takes 3 seconds, then immediately do the concentric part in about 2 seconds. No pause at the top and the bottom. This is an eccentric type of exercise.

Advanced trainees should have an explosive concentric contracting at zero second because their neurological system is more enhanced.

It would be like 40X0 or 30X0. It is quite practical to set these tempos while practicing with the TRX training system.

Tempo of german volume training with bodyweight

Time Under Tension in Calisthenics GVT

Note that German Volume Training is not just about the number of repetitions, it’s also about the length of time you spend under tension. The German Volume Training tempo power rule is “More Time Under Tension = More Muscle Growth”.

This German Volume Training tempo power rule also applies for GVT with various types of weights. For example, 10 sets of 10 repetitions would mean 100 German volume training reps at a specific tempo.

You can German volume train on any bodyweight exercise.

Rest Days in Bodyweight 10×10 Training

It is important to follow up German Volume Training with bodyweight with a good body-recovery workout session. German Volume Training is taxing on your muscles, so you need to give them the proper time to recover and grow bigger and stronger. Due to the high volume of the exercise, it takes longer than ordinary to recover. It is recommended to try German Volume Training with Bodyweight every 4 or 5 days for each body part.

Frequency of 10×10 bodyweight exercises

German Volume Training with bodyweight should be done once or twice per week per body part and up to 2 exercises in a training session. Then you can perform two or three other supplementary exercises for other muscle groups. Your calisthenics GVT session after four exercises is over.

The intensity of the calisthenics GVT requires you to completely rest and recover before another 10×10 session.

A 10×10 bodyweight schedule can be like this:

  • Monday: Chest and Back
  • Tuesday: Leg and Abs
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Arms and Shoulders
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: start again

GVT is a very demanding program and is typically used for a short period of time (4-6 weeks) to prevent overtraining and allow for recovery.

Sample Bodyweight 10×10 Workout with TRX for Upper Body

  1. A. TRX Press up — 10 sets of 10
  2. B. TRX Pull up — 10 sets of 10
  3. A. TRX Tricep Extensions — 3 sets of 10
  4. B. TRX Bicep Curls — 3 sets of 10

1,2 – Tempo: 4020 Rest: 90 seconds
3,4 – Tempo: 3020 Rest: 60 seconds

Exercises are paired with A and B, which means you perform one set of A for 10 reps and rest, then one set of B and rest again until you complete all sets. This is a form of superset as well.

Exercises 3 and 4 are considered supplementary, and doing 3 sets will be enough. Performing 10 sets for accessory exercises will result in plateau and overtraining.

Scientific Studies on GVT

Some studies, however, indicate that performing a maximum of five or six sets brings results. It can be more beneficial than 10 sets as it prevents overtraining. This study shows that the group that performed 10 GVT sets after 6 to 12 weeks experienced a decrease in lean muscle mass.

This information denotes that 10 sets of GVT are no more efficient than 5 sets in increasing muscle mass and strength. Subsequently, It may not be necessary to complete all 10 sets of 10 in German Volume Training with bodyweight.

These findings imply that for German Volume Training with bodyweight between 4 and 6 sets should be enough to maximize hypertrophy and strength. Further researches should be conducted on this theory.

Does German Volume Training Burn Fat?

Losing fat has more to do with caloric deficit rather than workout intensity. GVT is a hypertrophy style workout designed to maximize muscle growth without increasing fat mass.

Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, increases the caloric deficit by increasing your heart rate and respiratory rate which will lead to weight loss over time.

Due to the high volume of the exercise, German volume training with bodyweight can eventually lead to a greater calorie burn due to an increase in your resting metabolic rate. In turn, it can help to develop lean muscle mass.

However, if you want to lose fat as quickly as possible, it is recommended that you use a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises so that you can gain some muscle mass while losing fat at the same time.


German Volume Training is not for beginners. Calisthenics GVT should be performed by relatively advanced trainees that have already built up a good foundation in the gym or at home with calisthenics. German Volume Training with bodyweight will help you gain size and strength fast. 
German Volume Training with bodyweight is a way to better stimulate growth hormone production in the body through high-volume training at submaximal weight loads. It will help you pack on muscle mass and burn fat at the same time.

 Don Saladino - personal trainer of superhero actors
Effects of a 12-Week Modified German Volume Training Program on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy

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