Congratulations, you just completed January’s rigorous block German Volume Training. Your prize is Advanced German Volume Training, the name is pretty self explanatory it’s the more advanced version…

This is about stripping away any fluff and getting down to just hard work: two exercises done at a fixed weight for 10 sets. The only difference here is that instead of doing 10 reps, we are going to do 5 reps.

A typical session is roughly 20-30 sets. How we distribute those sets amongst the exercises determines the impact those exercises have. Greater total volume and overall load will have a greater overall impact. Said differently, allocate more sets to an exercise if you want that exercise to have a greater impact. Greater allocation of sets means there is a greater potential for advancement from those exercises.

Important Concepts: Tonnage & Critical Drop Off
There are two big points that need to be addressed in this blog post – Tonnage and Critical Drop Off.

Tonnage is the aggregate of mass multiplied by volume (expressed in repetitions). So if we do 5 sets of 5 reps at 135lbs that would be 3,375lbs total Tonnage. For context, this is really important for things like weight lifting. if a person can accumulate a certain amount of tonnage over a course of a training cycle they should be able to hit greater competition maxes aka increased strength.

Critical Drop Off: with any training protocol, there is a point of diminishing returns. That point means very clearly that what we are doing from a set, rep, and intensity standpoint is no longer effective. We have to make an alternative strategy to continue. We want the set, rep, and even tempo to stay the same to maintain the objectives of the program. The only thing left to adjust is intensity and lowering the weight. We can also adjust frequency: go fewer days or not back to back to days in a block like this. It’s important to feel out your body and rest if needed.

Have you heard of Pareto’s Principle?
Pareto’s Principle (aka 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.​We are able to leverage Pareto’s principle. So it is about determining the greatest ROI generating exercises and setting up sets and reps to maximize benefit from training.

Not everyone will make a seamless transition from one block to the next. This is why we need contingencies like rep brackets.

Rep Brackets are a way of listing rep ranges in programming. You’ll see us utilize the whiteboard for this block and see rep schemes like 4-5, 8-10, or 12-15. It’s because it fits within this concept called rep brackets. This gives you a range to work with so we can push higher intensity with some wiggle room to progressively overload. We are always driving for the higher number within the rep bracket, in this case it will be the 5 reps. Bu sometimes a loss of focus happens and we can only hit 4 reps with technical proficiency. Other times we drive up the intensity and only hit 4 reps safely. In both cases, if w hit within 4 reps for all 10 sets we can still progressively overload week to week.

Advanced German Volume Training vs Traditional German Volume Training
What’s the Difference?

Let us recap the most important points regarding German Volume Training:

  1. You do ten sets of a single “most bang for your buck” exercise.
  2. You strive to do a pre-determined number of reps on each set, ex: ten sets of ten reps.
  3. You preferably alternate with the antagonist “most bang for your buck” exercise.
  4. You only increase the weight once all ten sets are completed with the pre-determined starting weight. The load used is sub-maximal, you do not try to reach failure on all sets, but only the last three should be hard. Basically you get the training effect from the law of repeated efforts.

Improvements for Advanced German Volume Training
The advanced component comes from lowering the reps and increasing the corresponding load. So we have more intensity and greater impact on the nervous system. This makes it more advanced.

Training Frequency: Because this is such a demanding program, it will take you longer to recover. The exercises done in the two different workouts for the same body part should be similar, yet different enough to tap into a different motor unit pool.

Reps: For the advanced trainee, doing more than 5 reps is a waste of time, as the average intensity will be too low. The reps should vary for each one of the six workouts (German Volume Training, like any other training, is only effective for so long). Reps are the loading parameter to which one adapts the quickest.

Rest Intervals: When trainees start with this method, they often question its value during the first several sets simply because the weight will not feel heavy. However, there is minimal rest between sets (about 90 seconds when performed in sequence and 90-120 seconds when performed as a superset), which gives you a process of accumulative fatigue. Because of the importance of the rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch or a watch equipped with one 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 chin-ups, use a 40X0 tempo; this means you would lower the weight in four seconds and immediately change direction and lift explosively for the concentric portion. For movements such as curls and triceps extensions, use a 30X0 tempo. Advanced trainees, because of their enhanced neurological efficiency, should only use explosive concentric tempos.

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 6-8 reps.

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

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