Programs like GVT
Two programs which you can do which are similar to GVT are 8x8 and boring but big. Boring but big is more suited for beginners while 8x8 is great for pros who want to shift one gear down.
What is your goal
Let me ask you some questions before we go into details about programs like GVT:
- Why do you look for programs like GVT?
- Why is GVT not good enough?
- Why is GVT too challenging for you?
Whatever brought you here it is important that you know your motivation. Most people ask themselves what to do than how to do it and lastly why they do it. If you reverse that order and start with the why you will see that your life will change substantially. There is a great TED talk out there which explains this principle. If you take one step you get to the motivation of your training. Mostly this is one of these three
If you are in the fitness game for the looks be prepared for a hard time. To achieve what you see in the movies and magazines you have to be very disciplined. Get ready to be hungry, grumpy and tired. The physiques you see on television are achieved by months of hard training followed by another couple of months of starvation. The decisions you will make to achieve this goal will not always be healthy or help you as an athlete. You will look the part though.
The second group is all about performance. There are trophies to be won and record books to fill. You pick your exercises based on how much carryover they have to your sport. Diet merely becomes a fuel to your ambitions. The main driver of success is the intensity you put in in the gym. Injuries are common and you do not mind them. The choices you make will not always be pretty or healthy but you get the job done.
The last group is mainly about health. You want to live a life of balance. The extremes are avoided wherever you can. Burnout and injury seldom occur as you stay away from the extremes. While others win trophies and make it on the front cover you watch the madness go by with a tea on your porch.
As you are looking for alternatives to German Volume Training you are either a beginner interested in performance or someone advanced who is into looks. Whatever you do always get to the bottom of why you do it.
German Volume Training
German Volume Training was made very popular by coach and bodybuilder Charles Poliquin. You will train for five days a week on a split program. This is as bodybuilding as it gets.
The core of the program is to perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions of an exercise at 60% of your one repetition maximum. Rest between sets should be kept minimal around one minute.
The biggest advantages of GVT are its simplicity and effectiveness. There are many recorded examples of people blowing up in size on GVT.
The biggest disadvantages of GVT are the time it takes and lack of clear progression. Packing in 100 reps per exercise on any given day is a big time commitment. If you keep the rest periods to 2 minutes between sets you have already spent 20minutes there. The sheer amount of volume also makes it harder to track your progress. Especially for beginners, this can become frustrating.
The 8x8 method follows the same idea of German Volume training, just with a little less volume. Everything stays the same except you minimize rest times to 30 seconds between sets and lower the reps per set and sets.
Two big advantages of 8x8 are the lesser time it takes and that you stay more in control. You will find several studies and sources which show that form usually breaks down after repetition six on a set. With 8x8 you have fewer reps in the danger zone.
The big disadvantage with 8x8 is the short rest period. If you do not have the conditioning or mental discipline it can get quite hectic going from set to set. This is especially challenging for beginners on compound lifts who still learn the movement.
Boring but big
Boring but big is an accessory program designed by Jim Wendler to accompany his 531 programs. It is one of three options presented in his book Wendler 531.
The prescription is easy and can also stand by its own. You basically half the amount of sets from German Volume Training and do 5x10 repetitions.
The biggest advantages of this approach are that you half the time you need to complete the program and lower the injury risk. Especially beginners should look at this as a viable option. If you are young, eat enough and regularly look at a barbell you usually already start making gains. Those good old days when I was full of natural testosterone.
The biggest disadvantage of this approach is the lack of volume. For more experienced lifters this approach to training might not create enough of a stimulus to make them grow.
Which one should you do?
it all depends on your goals and individual fitness level. But as you came here for generalized answers I will provide some.
I think 5x10 is a good option for beginners who want to focus on muscle growth but don’t have the fitness level or control over the movement to do 10x10 safely. Slowly add one set or a couple of repetitions over time. Once you made it to 10x10 it’s time to slowly increase weight.
8x8 is a great program for bodybuilders who are preparing for a meet and are in a cut. When you usually do a ton of volume and feel that you are getting weaker 8x8 might be an option. The 30-second rest will also give you a nice cardio effect which is welcome when you are cutting.
10x10 is a great program if you want to blow up. I did it for a month and gained 2.5kg in muscle mass. All my other lifting is focused on strength. So if you are a powerlifter who is taking some time from competing, throw in two months of GVT before beach season.
I personally like the 5x10 approach a lot. My core program was Juggernaut for a good bit of 1.5 years. I got all of the core lifts done in two days and packed 5x10 days with some accessory in between. Worked well to achieve my goal of being able to lift the same weights without a belt which I used to lift with a belt.
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