Recently, I started playing with a new type of training called German Volume Training (GVT). Normally, I just make up my own routine anymore when I get into my exercise space. I know the muscles I want to focus on, and I do them. Usually, I'll cycle 2 or 3 muscle groups on a given day and do anywhere from 8-10 sets of 6-12 reps depending on how I'm feeling. Sometimes I go for strength, sometimes size, etc. Ever since P90x (1, 2, and 3), I haven't cared to follow any specific program (even then, I only loosely followed P90x) because I know what I like and what helps me.
So why did I start playing with GVT? Basically, it's pretty close to what I do already, although a little more regimented. Seeing as it was similar to my way of resistance training, I opted for a change out of curiosity and, yes, some boredom. I'm very happy I did. For the first few weeks, I was quite sore and loving it. Soreness is great because it tells us we haven't used that muscle in that way in a while and we have just done something to improve it! In just a month, I gained size in my muscles and saw an increase in strength due to needing to increase the weight.
My report on my improvements is at the end of this article. What I did for exercises is also there, so you can just scroll down if you don't want to read all these words that I so painstakingly put together. Go ahead. Scroll! I won't be offended. I won't go cry in a dark corner that all of my prose is just sitting here unread in the digital ether. I won't. Just go already. *sniffle*
What is German Volume Training?:
Without getting into too much detail, GVT starts by having you do a split routine (splitting muscle groups up on different days) and taxing the muscles with a lot of reps (hence 'volume' in the name). You do 10 sets of 10 reps, with 90 seconds of rest between each set, of one exercise before moving on to the next exercise. You do this with a 4/0/2 tempo. This means, the eccentric motion (with resistance) is to a count of 4, and the concentric motion (against resistance) is to a count of 2 (typical weight tempo is 2/0/2). The '0' is how long you isometrically hold the weight. in this case, there is no holding it steady, so the value is '0'. There are A exercises and B exercises, as well. So the A exercises follow the formula above and focus on larger muscles. The B exercises follow a smaller set count and shorter rest and focus on smaller muscles. Also, the B exercises use more of a 3/0/2 or typical 2/0/2 tempo. You can search the interwebs for more on that and everything else that goes into this process.
The first block, they have you doing 5 days of a plan that you repeat 6 times (total of 30 days). After that, you do a 3 week period of other things that I will start tomorrow (still need to figure that out), and then you go back to the original 5 day plan, but with an increase in weight and a decrease in reps. Sets remain the same.
My strength definitely increased in that short amount of time. You're supposed to start with 60% of your 1RM (One Rep Max is how much you can lift one time), or a weight that you can lift 20 times to failure. For instance, on my chest press with dumbbells, I did 60lbs in each hand. On the first day of chest, I was just barely able to squeak out the 100 reps. By the last day of chest, I could do 70lbs in each hand and didn't have to squeak at all. I felt pretty strong throughout. So, that was definitely a good sign that this training can increase strength. This was constant for all muscle groups.
What about size? Every muscle (except my calves; I'll need to change the exercise next round) increase anywhere from 1/8" to 1/2" around. My chest gaining the most going from 39" to 39.5". My upper arms went up by a quarter inch and my thighs by an eighth.
My weight actually dropped by a pound, but seeing as I fluctuate 3-4 pounds up or down depending on the day, time of day, hydration level, and how much food is in my belly (I did, however, check my weight at the same time of day), I didn't pay it much mind for now. If I had eaten like a body builder (more than my maintenance calories), I would have gained weight for sure. When you lift and eat to gain muscle, you also gain fat (just the way it is). Since I'm not a fan of stripping fat off my body, I stay close to maintenance or just under and do the muscle gaining much slower (I've gained an average of one pound of muscle per year over the last 12 years). I'm patient. :-)
What did I do?:
Below, I've written down what I did for exercises on each day. I searched around the internet for ideas on what works best in this type of training, found a few, and settled on one. But, as I was beginning I realized some exercises weren't doing enough for me and I didn't like the order of days because there wasn't enough rest between certain groups. For instance, there was only 2 days between triceps and chest which wasn't enough for my sore triceps to be effective synergists to my chest muscles. So, I swapped two of the days to put 3 days between those muscle groups. It's alright that I then caused a 1 day gap between chest and triceps because the triceps are smaller and the chest doesn't help them in movement. If that doesn't make sense, call me and I'll explain it better. I also added stuff to do on the rest days as options because I didn't want to neglect my core and cardio.
Squats (10 sets; 10 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Hamstring curls on stability ball (7 sets; 15 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Calf raises (3 sets; 30 reps per side split 15L/15R/15L/15R; 60 seconds rest)
Chest press (10 sets; 10 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Chin ups (10 sets; 10 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Chest fly (3 sets; 15 reps; 60 seconds rest)
One arm row (3 sets; 12 reps per side; 60 seconds rest)
Rest or Abs/Core
Skull crushers (10 sets; 10 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Lean back hammer curls (10 sets; 10 reps; 90 seconds rest)
Incline back fly (3 sets; 12 reps per side; 60 seconds rest)
Lateral shoulder fly (3 sets; 12 reps per side; 60 seconds rest)
Rest or Run
So, that's it for the first block. I may not report findings after the next block since it's only three weeks long, but I will report once I finish the second round of what I did here. I may change the calf exercises, so that I can get some size improvement, and maybe swap a couple others for variation as long as they still challenge me. I did not take before pictures like an idiot, so there won't be any after pictures. But, I doubt the camera would show the difference in size anyway with those small improvements. But they are improvements! :-). More to come.