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Pump Up the Volume

No matter who you are or how long you’ve been training, there are exercises, systems, routines and techniques out there that you haven’t tried yet—and that could put you back on the path to new gains.


It’s funny how you can be aware of something for years, hear so many great things about it, and yet never try it until one fateful day. That was the case with me and DC training, which I’d been aware of for at least five years before I gave it a solid two-year run. I didn’t try it until I was forced to accept that it had been a very long time since I’d made any gains. 

German Volume Training is a technique I read about at least 15 years ago and never paid the least bit of attention to. “Ten sets of 10!” I harrumphed. “Who thought of that brilliant plan, some kindergartner counting on his fingers?” People had told me how well GVT had worked for them, but I simply ignored it. Don’t ask me why I never thought for a minute that it held any merit—I really don’t know. I do know that I never would have given it a try if I hadn’t—once again—been forced toward something new.

Pressing heavy free weights for chest or shoulders was turning into a fruitless exercise in agony. The spirit was willing, but 25 years of pounding on my joints and connective tissues had weakened the flesh. I happened upon an article about GVT one day when my left shoulder was aching like an infected wisdom tooth, and I made up my mind to try it the next day for my chest and biceps workout. I selected incline dumbbell presses and proceeded to warm up and begin the 10 sets, guessing that a pair of 60s would be about right. 

As the sets went by—with only about 30 seconds’ rest between them—I began to fear that I’d underestimated the weight to use. That changed around set seven, when the dumbbells actually began to feel more challenging. The lactic acid burn and the pump were also becoming more pronounced. By the time I’d completed the final set, my pecs were so done you could have stuck a fork in them. I wrapped up my chest workout with three sets of cable crossovers. Total time: a little over 10 minutes. 

Biceps were next. I hit them with 10 sets of EZ-curl-bar curls, using two 10s on each side. That proved a tad too heavy; I had to cheat to complete the reps on the last couple of sets. My biceps were pretty blown up and tight. Two sets of heavy hammer dumbbell curls finished them off. 

The next day my chest and biceps were sore to the touch—and to any movement. What do you know? German Volume Training was pretty good after all and perfectly suited to anybody who can’t lift superheavy for any reason. It’s even a decent shock treatment for trainees who are simply bored with their current routines. 

That episode also made me realize the fatuousness of the phrase “I’ve tried everything” in regard to bodybuilding training. That’s simply not possible. No matter who you are or how long you’ve been training, there are exercises, systems, routines and techniques out there that you haven’t tried yet—and that could put you back on the path to new gains. IM

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