THIS MONTH'S TRAINING IS GERMAN VOLUME TRAINING
YEAR 2, BLOCK 10
German Volume Training: 10 sets, 10 reps.
Behind The Block is a segment where we teach you about the science, methods, and reasoning behind each 4-week training block. In this post, you’ll learn about the science and “why” behind this month’s Accumulation Block. You’ll learn about our program design, rep schemes and the effects of this training on your muscular and nervous system.
IMPORTANT: Learning about German Volume Training requires listening to German Metal. Click play on the video below before reading any more of this post.
This Accumulation Block will feel like your initiation into a bareknuckle, Berlin Fight Club. Let’s dive in.
What is German Volume Training?
German Volume Training (GVT) is simply 10 sets of 10 reps using big compound movements. The movements we’re using are back squat, snatch grip RDL, and trapbar deadlift.
“Why would anyone voluntarily subject themself to this?” You might be thinking…
Well, German Volume Training gets incredible results. You get an incredible hormonal response and extremely high levels of hypertrophy. Hypertrophy means increasing the size of the muscle cell. GVT also makes you incredibly lean.
Increasing workload in a giving period of time is known as density. With GVT, we’re seriously increasing our workload in the same period of time.
Let’s learn more about density.
Lactic acid is the byproduct of anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise is exercise that does not directly use oxygen to replenish ATP (the muscle cell’s primary energy substrate). The accumulation of lactic acid at the local muscular level is one of density’s major byproducts.
Since oxygen is not present, muscular acidity begins to accumulate in order to protect the muscle from overexertion and signals other sources of energy in the body to breakdown and help (1). If the muscle contractions keep going and going, you will burn through all of your energy substrates and lead to failure.
As you accrue more lactate, you become more acidic at the local muscular level. This is from increased concentration of hydrogen ions in the system. This signals greater need for protein synthesis through mTOR pathways (2).
Greater need for protein synthesis means demand for more lean muscle development.
When you train like this, your body equips itself for the next time this stressor comes. It wants to be better prepared. This result is one benefit of progressive overload.
Progressive Overload, as a reminder, means systematically increasing weight over the course of training. This style of program design is a constant in all our training blocks.
As a response to training, the body better equips for the next exposure to stress by increasing the size of the muscle cell. That way it has greater force generating potential. And our body has to exert less overall energy to the same stimulus.
This is another benefit for progressive overload.
What about the exercises we’re doing?
The use of closed chain/compound multi joint exercises like squat, hinge, push and pull elicit more hormonal response than isolation/machine (3).
This is especially true with greater overall loads and tonnage. Tonnage is the aggregate of volume and intensity in a training session. Compound-Multi-Joint Exercise creates a greater response from the central nervous system. That means it increases:
Motor unit activation
Muscle fiber recruitment
German Volume Training makes you leaner. Why?
The main reason is lactic acid initiates protein synthesis. Which leads to:
glycolysis (glucose breakdown),
glycogenolysis (breakdown of glycogen) and
gluconeogenesis (breakdown of other energy substrates, specifically fat) (1).
The last part gluconeogenesis, is most important.
You have depleted more ATP and you need to find it from other sources. Like adipose or fat. Plus, with increased muscle mass, you store more glycogen in the muscle cell and do not store energy in your adipose tissue. Said another way you are insulin sensitive again (1).
If this style of training gets such great results, why not just train this way all the time?
Lactic-focus training is really hard on the body. It’s not sustainable from a motivational standpoint. Four weeks is plenty. The honeymoon wears off and you begin to plateau in terms of adaptation. As you plateau, you are forced to find alternative ways to progress. For example, altering technique, position, range of motion. And as you alter technique, you’re setting yourself up for injury.
This Lactic-focused training is commonly known as HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT training year round is wrong. Here’s why.
In order to function optimally, your nervous system needs periods of alkaline environment to recover. If you are constantly acidic, your body won’t be able to recover.
The paradox is that research shows HIIT training will improve VO2 max one time, but it does not lead to longterm development.
HIIT does not develop aerobic pathways like vagal tone, stroke volume, capillary density, and overall mitochondrial density (not just increasing in Type II fibers).
High nervous system exercises like olympic lifting, sprints, plyos, & relative strength exercises need at least 48 hours of recover. Even more time if you’re more fast twitch.
Lactic training is more so 36-48 hours. Most interval based training systems burn out their aerobic pathways and nervous system and regress the longer and more frequently they do this.
Aerobic needs as low as 12 hours of recovery.
We have a small window to hit this style of high-volume training and we need to maximize it with:
the correct exercises,
full range of motion,
the right amount of frequency,
the appropriate workout rest to work ratio.
To get the most out of your training, you’ll need the rest, hydration, nutrition, and work/life balance. Take care of your body this block.
This blog post was written by Allegiate co-founder and Head Coach Tim Caron. Edited by Allegiate co-founder Cody Romness.