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The German Volume Kettlebell Training Program For Size And Strength

By Mike Mahler

I learned about German Volume Training (GVT) from top strength coach Charles Poliquin several years ago. Coach Poliquin stated that many German athletes used the GVT protocol to successfully add ten pounds of muscle. Here is how it works. Take 60% off your one rep max on an exercise and do ten sets of ten reps. Use the same weight on all ten sets and do not increase the weight until you can do ten sets of ten with the same weight. This program is of course very effective, but extremely brutal. Ten sets of ten on exercises such as squats and deadlifts are real pukers and great way to handicap you for the rest of the week. I remember the pain of getting up in the morning the day after doing GVT for legs. Another drawback with GVT is that while following a 10×10 protocol will increase muscle size, it does not increase brute strength. In fact many trainees reported that they actually got weaker after six weeks of GVT. Hardly the results that we are after. Thus, I think that changing GVT from 10×10 to a starting program of 10×5 is more appropriate. Now since we cannot increase the weights incrementally with kettlebells, lets work on other factors. First, start with 10×5 and when you can complete 10×5, go up to 10×6. When you can complete 10×6, go up to 10×7. Once you can do 10×8, move up to heavier kettlebells or pick harder kettlebell drills and start back at 10×5. You can even start at 10×2 or 10×3 to get started and gradually work up to 10×5 and above. Use the same kettlebells for all ten sets rather than doing the some sets with heavier bells and some sets with lighter bells. One final modification that you can do with GVT is to pick two exercises instead of one. For example, do Double Lunges for five sets of five and then double front squats for five sets of five right after. The total volume will still be ten sets. This is a great way to get around possible overuse injuries and the sheer boredom that can come with doing ten sets of the same drill over and over again.

Here are two sample GVT/Kettlebell Programs

Option One

Day 1:

A-1: Double Front Squat 10×5

A-2: Double Swing 10×5

Double Windmill 3×5 l,r (left and right)

Day 2:

A-1: Double Military Press 10×5

A-2: Renegade Row 10×5

TGU 2×5 l,r (left and right)

Option Two

Day 1:

A-1: Double Lunge 5×5 Double Front Squat 5×5

A-2: Double Snatch 5×5, Double Swing 5×5

Windmill 2×5 l,r

Day 2:

A-1: Seated Military Press 5×5, Standing Military Press 5×5

A-2: Renegade Row 5×5, Double Bent-over Row 5×5

Double Windmill 2×5 l,r (left and right)

Key Points

Both options will work very well. If you are someone that needs more variety in your workouts, then try option two first. If you really want to improve an exercise such as the Double Military Press, then try option one. Take a day off between each workout. In other words, do day 1 on Monday, day 2 on Wednesday and then Day 1 again on Friday.


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