Getting Action Figure Muscles with German Volume Training 


Being totally transparent, I applied to write for Nerd Fitness and this was my application post.  They were looking for more staff writers and I thought it would help me get street cred and help with my writing.  

I didn’t get it, and that’s a good thing.  I am not a nerd and it would have been really tough for me to relate things to Harry Potter and shit like that.  It took me a year and a half to get through the second Lord of the Rings movie.  I’d always fall asleep 30 minutes into it.  I prefer to watch football and play beer pong.  

Regardless, here is my submission to them and yes that is actually my baby picture.

At one point, everyone has said I wish I looked like an action figure.  Hell, I still say it today.

The muscles.

The cape.

The tight fitting costume that shows just enough muscle so you can say “Oh yea I’m jacked under there”.

action-figure-muscles
Yea I was rocking a sweet cape at 1

 

Unfortunately for us, we can’t pour ourselves into a mold to get these muscles.  We need a proper workout plan, the right nutrition and an undying will to look like Wolverine. 

Thankfully, Steve has the diet covered and you already possess the will to look like an action figure.  So you’re probably asking “What’s this noob, Dave, going to teach me?”

Today boys and girls, we are going to learn about a program that is very near and dear to my heart – German Volume Training or GVT.

GOAL OF TRAINING

 

action-figure-muscles-he-man
Seriously, this sword must weigh a ton.

 

Long story short, the goal of GVT is to pack on lean muscle quickly.  Now don’t get too excited, because there is a cost with every short cut – that cost is lots of sets, reps, your ego and possibly your lunch.  The volume in GVT equates to 10 sets of 10.  And for the non math people in the crowd that’s 100 total reps per exercise!  Not to mention your supersetting as well.

If you think 3 sets of 10 is tough, then 10 sets of 10 must be for the insane.  And I would not argue that. 

By hitting your muscles with that much volume, you create an immense amount of stimulus to your muscles for repair and then growth.  This will cause a superhuman pump to the muscles like nothing you’ve felt before.  This is great for people who are dominate in slow twitch muscle fibers or people that do a lot of heavy lifting (using mostly fast twitch fibers) to even themselves out. 

WHAT EXCERSISE SHOULD I DO?

 

action-figure-muscles-uni
I think we should bring back the uni with the ‘stache

This is where old school cool exercises comes in handy.  Focusing on the big multi-joint exercises is the way to go for the most muscle recruitment and efficiency.  This way you can simplify your workout instead of doing 100 reps for 6 different exercises. 

Like Sweet Brown once eloquently put  “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

For our GVT workout focus on:

Squats

Deadlifts

Bench Press

Overhead Press

Pull Ups

Bent Over Rows

You can’t go wrong with these 6.

PICKING THE WEIGHT

action-figure-muscles-roger-rabbit

90% or your 1 rep max.  HA!  I bet a few jaws dropped there. 

I’m joking that would be for the insane and not to mention almost guaranteeing an injury. 

For GVT start with a max of 60% of your 1 rep max or a weight you can do 20 reps with.

You: “Wait, wait wait.  I’m taking a weight I can lift for 20 reps and only doing 10?  Isn’t that a waste of time?  Dave I’m losing confidence in you newbie.”

I know, it sounds like – and would be – a waste of time if you were doing 3 sets of 10.  But we aren’t.  We are bordering the line of insanity and doing a little over 3 times more work. By set 4 and 5 you’ll be cursing my name but when you finish you’ll have a ton of reps under your belt and you might feel slightly better about me.

Since we are doing a lot of volume, the weight needs to be lowered considerably.  The benefits of muscle gain still holds true. 

LIFTING TEMPO AND REST

 

action-figure-muscles-bane
He might have done a little GVT

 

This is where GVT gets fun if you find solace in punishing yourself.  Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re going through hell.  Get ready for words of encouragement.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

To reap the most out of GVT, use a 4 second lowering and take 2 seconds on the lifting portions.  So for example, take the bench press – After you unrack the weight, take 4 seconds to lower the bar to your chest and 2 seconds to go from your chest to the arms fully extended. 

More time under tension = more muscle. 

As far as rest periods go, between exercises of the superset there is no rest period.  As soon as you finish one exercise you right into the next exercise.  Between supersets go with 90-120 seconds.  Use a timer or you’re definitely going to go over after set 4 unless your superhuman. 

And if you are superhuman, why aren’t you fighting crime?  Seriously, priorities people!

WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN’T FINISH ALL THE REPS

This will be profound so buckle up – Finish what you can finish. 

DO NOT GO UNTIL FAILURE. 

With this many reps that is a recipe for disaster.  Always leave 1 rep in the tank.  This is not a beginner method so by now you should know how you feel and roughly how many reps you have left before failure. 

You will not be able to finish all the reps for every set.  If you can perform all 100 reps, then you didn’t use a heavy enough weight for yourself.  If this is the case, the next workout add 5-10 lbs. to the exercise.

TRACK, TRACK, TRACK

 

action-figure-muscles-notebook

This is not new.  Track the exercise, weight used, rest periods, reps and sets.  If you don’t have a baseline, you’ll never know if you progressed.  Old school pen and paper.  Apps or use your eidetic memory. 

SAMPLE WORKOUT

Did you really think I’d let you get out of here without giving you a sample workout?  If your gym is crowded then split the superset, that’s not a problem, you’ll just be there a little longer. A1 and A2 represent 1 superset and B1 and B2 the next superset.  Take day 3 and the weekend to recover.  Light cardio is fine to get the blood flowing but don’t go crazy.  Catch up on sleep and rest your body

Day 1 Sets Reps
A1 Barbell Bench Press 10 10
A2 Barbell Bent Over Row 10 10
B1 Incline Cable Flyes 3 10-12
B2 Lat Pulldown 3 10-12

 

Day 2 Sets Reps
A1 Squats 10 10
A2 Romanian Deadlift 10 10
B1 Seated Calf Raises 3 10-12
B2 Walking Lunge 3 10-12

 

Day 4 Sets Reps
A1 Barbell Shoulder Press 10 10
A2 EZ Bar Incline Row 10 10
B1 Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 10-12
B2 Dumbbell Reverse Raises 3 10-12

 

Day 5 Sets Reps
A1 Close Grip Bench Press 10 10
A2 Barbell (or EZ Bar) Curls 10 10
B1 EZ Bar French Press 3 10-12
B2 Dumbbell Incline Curl 3 10-12

 

THIS POST SUMMARIZED IN 12 WORDS

10×10.  Multi-joint exercises.  Four second lowering.  Limited rest.  Track and Good Luck.

-Dave

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 photo: Wolverine, He-Man, Strong Man, rabbit, Bane, barbell, notebooks