Working in a commercial as I do I’m asked daily if not hourly…….. “What’s the best workout to get big?”. Well here you are the best workout I know of to get big! Warning the workout below is deceivingly simple and brutally hard as well as mind numbingly monotonous!
Volume Training To squat a lot you must squat a lot……as in shitloads of them! That’s what I was told in broken English when I visited the national training facility in the former Czechoslovakia in the early 1990’s. The athletes that I met in Eastern Europe followed this dictum with deranged monk like dedication. I watched amazed as these men (and Women) did set after relentless set of high bar squats and front squats and cleans. The coaches and trainers later explained to me in graphic detail the failings of western thought on the subject of strength training and how there athletes would never “forget” to be strong!
In modern strength-coaching circles, this method is often called the "ten sets method." This methodology seemingly has its roots in German-speaking countries so; it is most often referred to as German Volume Training. I’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of variants on this theme, so for the sake of simplicity we will limit our discussion to the original as much as possible.
This training system originated in Germany in the mid-'50's and was popularized by Rolf Feser throughout the 1960’s & 70’s. Feser was the German National Weightlifting Coach and prototype for all modern thinkers in the field of strength and sports performance. A similar training protocol was being promoted by Vince Gironda on the west coast of the U.S. at or around the same time, but likely he gleaned it from one or more high profile ‘exchange” athletes he was famous for working with.
In Germany and the eastern bloc, this volume based method was used in the off-season to help athletes gain lean body mass and provide repetitive skill at the basic weightlifting movements. It was found to be so efficient at promoting lean body weight gains that lifters routinely moved up a full weight class within one off-season. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself mentioned squatting for 10 sets of 10 in some of his earliest interviews as the only thing that helped developed his legs.
The program works because it targets a group of motor units, and exposes them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts. The body adapts to this extraordinary and specific stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers and developing a deep neurological connection (coordination) to the targeted motion.
The goal of the German Volume Training method is to complete ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise. You want to begin with a weight you could lift for 20 reps to failure.
Rest Intervals Rest 90 seconds between sets. Because of the importance of the rest intervals, you should use a stopwatch to keep the rest intervals constant.
Number of Exercises One exercise should be performed, with little or no assistance work.
Training Frequency One training session every seven days per body part is plenty.
Progressive Overload Once you're able to do 10 sets of 10 with constant rest intervals, increase the weight on the bar by 5lbs and repeat the process.
Application A simple 3 day split provides plenty of stimulation and adequate rest.
Day 1: Squat 10x10 Leg curls 3x10 (Rotate the kind used ever 2-3 weeks) Calf raise 3x10 (Rotate the kind used ever 2-3 weeks)
Day 2: Bench Press 10x10 Overhead Press 3x10 Triceps Pushdowns 3x10 (Rotate the kind used ever 2-3 weeks)
Day 3: Barbell Cleans 10x10 DB Row 3x10 Biceps Curls 3x10 (Rotate the kind used ever 2-3 weeks)
*Note: Day 3 utilizes cleans rather than deadlifts due to the similar neurological recruitment patterns and muscular/skeletal overlap between squats and deadlifts. If a trainee need to perform volume training for deadliftsinsert deadlifts in place of cleans, drop squats in favor of machine hack squats and flip the position of days 1 & 3.