My two most famous workouts are German Volume Training (GVT) and the German Body Comp (GBC) program – GVT is associated with increasing muscle mass and GBC with fat loss. As a result, most women trainees tend to focus on the GBC training. That’s fine, and women who follow the GBC workout principles as written will achieve great results. However, even if the primary goal is fat loss, women should consider doing some German Volume Training.
The German Body Comp program is characterized by short rest intervals and multi-joint movements to generate maximum growth-hormone production. Higher growth hormone levels increase fat loss. And although the short rest intervals are not the optimal way to increase muscle mass, the increased mass does have some effect. This is important, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. It is estimated that for every pound of muscle you gain, you burn an extra 50 calories a day.
In my 34 years of experience as a strength coach, for every kilo or pound of lean tissue my female clients have gained, they’ve generally lost an equal amount of body fat. Let’s say a woman weighs 60 kilos (132 pounds), has 20 percent bodyweight and therefore 12 kilos (26 pounds) of fat. If she gains 4 kilos (8.8 pounds) of muscle in 10 weeks, she also will probably lose 4 kilos of fat and lower her body fat to 13 percent.
The German Volume Training program works by targeting a group of motor units, exposing them to an extensive volume of repeated efforts, specifically 10 sets of a single exercise. The body adapts to the extraordinary stress by hypertrophying the targeted fibers. GVT builds muscle fast: In males, gains of 4.5 kilos (10 pounds) of muscle in six weeks are not uncommon. Although GVT does not produce the same level of growth hormone release as GBC, the trade-off is that because GVT is a superior method of increasing muscles mass it will more effectively raise one’s metabolism.
Another advantage of GVT is that it focuses on multi-joint exercises that recruit a lot of muscle mass, such as squats and deadlifts. Many beginning-level bodybuilding programs contain a lot of isolation-type exercises, such as triceps pressdowns and barbell biceps curls. These exercises are fine, but many beginning-level women trainees do not like the “pump” that is associated with such exercises. Multi-joint exercises such as squats and deadlifts are certainly hard but generally will not result in the same level of discomfort (from a pump) because the effort is spread among different muscles.
Another issue to consider is the importance of variety. When trainees use any specific workout protocol exclusively, after a few weeks they reach a point of diminishing returns, and progress stops. Also, trainees can become mentally burnt out on a program, and then it becomes difficult to motivate them to push themselves as hard as when they started it. The rule that applies here is that a workout program is only as good as the time it takes to adapt to it. So how do you introduce variety? You can do the obvious and change exercises, and you also can produce significant results by varying loading parameters, such as by increasing or decreasing the reps and rest intervals.
For these reasons, even if fat loss is the primary goal, which is the case for most women who lift weights, women would do well to incorporate a few training cycles of German Volume Training along with their primary weight loss program.