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Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jan 4, 2019 9:30:00 AM




GVT is the easier option for building muscle mainly for most. PHAT is the more professional individualized crossover program. For most people, GVT will be the better option. For athletes, PHAT is more promising depending on your available time. 

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What is your goal 

Before we move on let me ask you a couple of questions:


  • Why are you comparing GVT and Phat?
  • What is more important, getting stronger or getting bigger? 
  • Why do you want to get stronger or bigger?


Most people do not pay enough attention to their why. Some know what they want to do, few know how they want to do it almost none know why they want to move forward with a certain thing. 


Your why is important as it will become the driving force behind your actions. It will get you through the tough times when nothing seems to work. Simon Sinek has a great TED talk on how leaders inspire action. Most people think this way


  • What
  • How
  • Why


If you manage to reverse the order of that message into 


  • Why
  • How
  • What 


You will keep yourself a lot more motivated. In fitness, there are three different main fields of motivation 


  • Looks
  • Performance 
  • Health 


Based on the fact that you are comparing GVT and PHAT you are most likely in the looks and performance department while being undecided which one is more important to you. Take the time to sit down and reflect what is most important to you and why. It will pay dividends. 


German Volume training 


German Volume has been made popular by Charles Poliquin. The core idea is to do 10 sets of ten repetitions targeting a certain area. Because of its popularity, you will find many variations and copycats of this program. The version I personally like best is 


  • 10 repetitions for 
  • 10 sets at 
  • 60% intensity 
  • 30 seconds rest between sets


I packed on 2.5kg of muscle in a month doing this template using 



If you are a beginner you might want to start with machines like the leg press, leg curl, and lat pull down and progress towards the bar


The biggest advantages of German Volume Training are its simplicity and effectiveness. It has shown for many to build a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. 


The biggest disadvantages are the time it takes and lack of clear progression for the lifter. Doing 10 sets in a workout takes commitment which might be too much to ask from beginners. It is also hard to navigate when to increase weight when you perform 100 repetitions per exercise.




PHAT stands for power hypertrophy adaptive training. The main idea is to combine the best of the powerlifting and bodybuilding world into one. The program is the brainchild of Layne Norton. He holds a Ph.D. and is very successful in the powerlifting and bodybuilding world alike. 


On PHAT you will train 5 times a week. Two days are dedicated to power and three to hypertrophy. PHAT works up to ten reps per set on power days and up to 15 reps on hypertrophy days. You can find a sample template for a week below:


Day 1: Upper Body Power Day

Pendlay Rows: 3×3-5

Weighted Pull-Ups: 2×6-10

Rack Chins: 2×6-10

Bench Press: 3×3-5

Overhead Press: 3×6-10

Cambered Bar Curls: 3×6-10

Skull Crushers: 3×6-10

Day 2: Lower Body Power Day


Squats: 3×3-5

Hack Squats: 2×6-10

Leg Extensions: 2×6-10

Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 3×5-8

Glute Bridges: 2×6-10

Standing Calf Raises: 3×6-10

Seated Calf Raises: 2×6-10

Weighted Crunches: 2×6-10

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy Day


Pendlay Rows: 6×3, 65-70% of 3-5 max

Rack Chins: 3×8-12

Seated Cable Row: 3×8-12

Dumbbell Shrugs (incline): 2×12-15

Close Grip Pulldowns: 2×15-20

Seated Dumbbell Presses: 3×8-12

Uprights Rows: 2×12-15

Side Lateral Raises: 3×12-20

Woodchoppers: 3×8-12

Day 5: Lower Body Hypertrophy Day


Squats: 6×3, 65-70% of 3-5 max

Hack Squats: 3×8-12

Leg Presses: 2×12-15

Leg Extensions: 3×15-20

Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 3×8-12

Lying Leg Curls: 2×12-15

Seated Leg Curls: 2×15-20

Standing Calf Raises: 4×10-15

Seated Calf Raises: 3×15-20

Day 6: Chest and Arms Hypertrophy Day


Bench Press: 6×3, 65-70% of 3-5 max

Incline Bench Press: 3×8-12

Chest Press: 3×12-15

Incline Cable Flyes: 2×15-20

Preacher Curls: 3×8-12

Dumbbell Concentration Curls: 2×12-15

Spider Curls (incline): 2×15-20

Seated Tricep Extensions: 3×8-12

Rope Press Downs: 2×12-15

Hydra Presses: 2×10-12

Day 7: Rest

The biggest advantages of the program are that you will train like a professional and get the best of both worlds. If you look at Layne's results you are dealing with a solid operator. 

The biggest disadvantages of the program are its complexity and variations of exercises. Many will feel overwhelmed just looking at the list of movements to be performed. Never mind that many gym rats can not even do a pull-up and the program asks for weighted pull-ups and rack chins.


Should you do GVT or PHAT?


If you are a professional bodybuilder or powerlifter who wants to go into the other camp do PHAT. That is what this program is all about. 


If you are a CrossFit enthusiast and experienced you also might go for PHAT. It has many different movements for which you can set personal records. The only downside is that you will probably spend more time in the week on Strength than endurance. How a good look at your personal strengths and weaknesses before making that time commitment. 


If you are a beginner both programs might be too challenging for you. Go with GVT and half the sets of you are interested in bodybuilding. If you are more interested in powerlifting look into Stronglifts 5x5 and starting Strength and pick one of the two. 


If you are an intermediate powerlifter or weightlifter you might pick one of the two to go up a weight class or break through a plateau by mixing things up. Depending on your style you might want a lot of variety or just bang out 10x10. 


Further reading





Topics: Lift stronger, German Volume Training, Fitness, Strength