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Rich Man's Gym meet German Volume Training: How to Build Size & Strength Outside The Gym

Updated on June 28, 2014

What Is German Volume Training?

What Is German Volume Training? Let's handle that first. Then we'll take a look at how you can plug that in to a Rich Man's Gym Workout. Actually, if you're just tuning in, Rich Man's Gym is what I like to call my gym. It is anywhere and everywhere you can Swing a Russian Kettlebell. Do pull ups from Olympic rings hanging from a large tree branch and perform any myriad of exercises from the turn of the century (think 1890's - 1910).

Old timey physical culture is where it's at for me and the lesson learned here is you don't need to go to an expensive gym and follow a body building routine you read in a muscle mag written by a skinny dude ghost writing for a big dude with an amoral pharmacist. Catch my drift?

Guys like Eugen Sandow, Author Saxon, and Thomas Inch, just to name a few did not have modern pharmacology at their disposal yet they were as strong as they looked and hard. Physical culture was about strength and health not simply vanity or size. I'm happy to resurect these days gone by at Rich Man's Gym and will be doing many more an article like this.

Bottom line here? To get into peak physical condition, look good naked and be as strong as you look, there is no need to go to a commercial gym, you can do it the Rich Man's Gym way, so please follow along!

Now, where were we? Ah yes, GVT or German Volume Training!

A little history first, shall we?

GVT - German Volume Training - Muscle Media 2000

While it's roots are debated, German Volume Training emerged on the scene in an issue of Muscle Media 2000 back in the 90's. The protocol, 10 sets of 10 of a single exercise was laid out by Coach Charles Polquin. He based this routine on German weight lifers in the 70's who would use this methind to pack on the muscle and size during the off season. It was also a preferred method of Vince Gironda for packing on the pounds as well.

German Volume Training is not for the beginner. You will want to have a foundation and you will also need to rid yourself of any "muscle confusion" concepts you saw on late night television. As I mentioned to a buddy of mine who asked me about this, "bro, you gotta have muscle before you can confuse it."

So, let's keep it simple, basic and old school. Put in the work, eat well, sleep deep and allow the consequence of your behaviors to provide you with a rock solid physique.

Word to the wise

As you are looking at these exercises and protocols, if you're not familiar with one or all, make sure you get familiar before doing 10 sets of it. I mean unless you like self sabotage. Know what you're doing. Seek a trainer. Go find an RKC somewhere and learn these exercises. If you get hurt, it's your fault! Know that now.

Bulgarian Split Squat - OH MY!

Kettlebell Front Squat

German Volume Training at Rich Man's Gym

Pick Two - Pair them up - 10 sets of 10 - Here we go! I'm going to list off four suggestions - if you have one of your own, please leave your ideas in the comment section below, I'd love to hear/read them!

Workout #1

Bulgarian Split Squats + Snatch to Rack = Total body destruction!

Let me handle the Snatch to Rack part first. Take a Kettlebell you do your snatches with. Most men will do just fine in the 24kg range. Maybe one size down or up based on current conditioning and experience. Now with one arm, snatch that sucker, pause briefly at the top and then lower it to the rack position. Hold for a split second and repeat. In the beginning, 5 reps per arm (10 reps) but the challenge will be to spend the next couple months getting to 10 reps per arm for 10 sets.

Bulgarian Split Squats - HOLY CRAP what the hell is that? Why does that sound like a cold war interrogation technique? Well, done right and you might be willing to rat out your tinker tailor to the soldier spy! See the video over. Now whether you use weight with this will be up to your current conditioning and strength levels, but a Kettlebell in each hand wouldn't be a bad thing to shoot for.

As far as volume goes, match the reps you do with the snatches - but yes, just to confuse you right now, you DO want to do these first. Now since we're at Rich Man's Gym here, you'll want to figure out a way to do these right. You can use a park bench or chair, but me personally I use my Olympic Rings and you're welcome to have at it with a TRX deal too.

Finish this nightmare off with a triple set of push ups done with the feet elevated, Kettlebell Swing Switches and Chest Expander Pulls. 10 reps each and as many sets as you can handle in 15 minutes. Track it and see if you can do a little better each time.

Workout #2

Dips + Walking Lunge = I want my mommy

This set up is also going to elevate the metabolism, work the core and can be quite a nice little fat burner as well. It's up to you if you want to start with dips or lunges, but basically, 10 + 10 per leg on the walking lunges then hop on a pair of dip bars for a set of 10. Since this is all body weight... hold on now! It doesn't have to be all body weight. If you're strong enough and need to add weight, do your walking lunges with a pair of dumbbells and your dips with dumbbell or kettlebell hanging from the middle (think Dip Belt). Keep in mind, however, the goal is volume first, so, do the just body weight first time around and see how you hold up before getting all macho and adding weight!

If there's any gas left in the tank, you can finish yourself off with a 12 Minute Man Maker...

A what?

Take a kettlebell and get as many swings as possible in 12 minutes WITH good form. So swing until worked. Stop, rest a bit, resume swinging. Count the reps, and next time, see if you can get more in. Keep working all 12 minutes. Pace yourself while pushing yourself.

Workout # 3

Kettlebell Front Squat + Pull Ups - you decide if you want to do single or double bell work with this one. Two bells for size and strength - single bells for strength endurance.

Workout # 4

Kettlebell Military Press + Heavy Swings - again, I will afford you the discretion to use one or two Kettlebells in this workout, but the two points here are to make sure you're using a heavy bell for the Swings and a bell(s) light enough to hit 10 sets of 10. If it's a single bell then this will be more strength endurance. If you're looking for pure size, do doubles.

SIDE NOTE: Notice how I'm giving you whole body routines that are multi-joint? The body works as a unit, train it that way especially for size and strength. If you suddenly see in your near future, you in a speedo, covered in tanning oil on a stage with 3% body fat, then the whole "isolation exercise" concept might have a place in your repertoire, but until then at Rich Man's Gym, compound movements are the name of the game.

© 2012 David R Bradley

Comments, Questions, Concerns?

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    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      5 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      Appreciate it Nicholas, what did you like most?

    • Nicholas Fiorito profile image

      Nicholas Fiorito 

      5 years ago from Northern NJ

      Very helpful, thanks for this hub!!!

    • dwelburn profile image


      5 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Good article on GVT. I like the way you pair upper body with lower body. Another good way is to pair opposing muscle groups. I like bench press paired with barbell row. Or overhead press paired with chin-ups. Both excellent combinations for upper body size.

      For lower body maybe squats paired with calf raises or front squats with hanging leg raises.

      And just a tip; the weight you use to start with should be about your 20 rep max. So if you can't do 20 reps of chin-ups you can't do GVT with them. But if you can do 12, you could do 10 sets of 6.

      I heard Bev Francis used GVT a lot to build her size and strength back in the late 70's/early 80's.


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