Last updated on November 16th, 2022 at 11:38 am
There’s a lot of confusion around German Volume Training, and this is especially true when it comes to whether you should use supersets.
In fact, there is a wealth of information about the right and wrong way to perform German Volume Training.
But unfortunately, much of what you read seems to conflict with each other.
So, allow me to explain whether you should use supersets with German Volume Training.
Plus, I’ll also cover the potential benefits and drawbacks.
Table of Contents
Do You Superset German Volume Training?
Traditional German Volume Training doesn’t involve using supersets. You simply perform 10 sets of 10 reps of one exercise, resting 60 seconds between sets. With that being said, you can superset German Volume Training if you want to. This will usually mean that you can perform a certain number of exercises in a shorter time. Plus, supersetting German Volume Training will increase the cardio and conditioning element of your workout.
No Supersets For “Traditional” German Volume Training
In truth, German Volume Training (GVT) was initially introduced as a “one exercises at a time” training protocol.
So, you would typically choose one single exercise and then perform 10 sets of 10 reps.
Your aim is to ensure that you rest for exactly 60 seconds between sets.
Now, in order to achieve this it is estimated that you should use your 20-rep max for each exercise.
In effect, you should be able to perform 20 reps of an exercise with the weight that you choose.
With that being said, these are the standards for the first time you perform an exercise using GVT.
As with any muscle-building training protocol the name of the game is progressive overload.
The most obvious way to achieve this is to add weight to the bar in each subsequent workout.
However, you shouldn’t add weight until you can perform all 10 sets with 10 reps.
You’ll often find that it can be difficult to determine the exact weight you should be using for each individual exercise.
More often than not, as fatigue starts to kick in, it gets harder to hit 10 reps with each set.
In reality, if you hit 10 sets of 10 reps the first time you perform an exercise you probably didn’t go heavy enough.
You typically want to be struggling to hit all 10 reps by about the 7th or 8th set.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to perhaps only hit 7-8 reps for the final 3-4 sets.
However, this is perfect, as you can progress the following week by hopefully hitting all 10 reps on one or more of the final few sets.
The Superset Time Factor
Now, just because the “traditional” form of German Volume Training involves doing one exercise at a time doesn’t mean that you can’t use supersets.
In fact, this is a great way to get more work done in less time.
I will also say that this increases the cardio and conditioning element of German Volume Training.
The holy grail of training is to be able to add lean muscle mass while keeping body fat at bay.
However, this is often seen as impossible to achieve as muscle-building and fat-burning are viewed as different training protocols.
In essence, you’ll need to consume more calories to build muscle, whereas you’ll need to consume fewer calories to burn fat.
Additionally, excessive cardio can actually hamper muscle growth too.
However, when it comes to supersetting German Volume Training you really are getting the best of both worlds.
The other great benefit, as I’ve mentioned, is that you can get your workout completed quicker.
As an example, the bare minimum time required to complete one exercise using GVT is 10 minutes.
However, I would hazard a guess that most of us complete one exercise nearer to 15 minutes.
So, if you’re looking to perform 4 exercises you’re realistically looking at least 60 minutes training (don’t forget the additional time and rest as you move from one exercise to the next).
But, if you perform the 4 exercises as two supersets you’ll probably shave at least 15-20 minutes off your workout time.
Use Opposing Muscle Groups When Supersetting
Now, this probably all sounds great, but you also have to figure in the fatigue factor with German Volume Training.
There’s no two ways about it, GVT is tough and it can be hard to recover from.
This is why you initially have to make sure that supersetting GVT is for you.
If you’ve performed a few workouts using supersets, but find that it’s hampering your recovery, you would be better off returning to the traditional GVT method.
Furthermore, if you do choose to try supersetting then I’d suggest working antagonistic muscle groups.
Basically, you want to choose exercises that won’t negatively affect each other.
As an example, you shouldn’t perform squats and calf raises together.
Now, initially this may seem like a sensible idea, as you’re performing a compound exercise and an isolation exercise.
However, your calves will already be somewhat fatigued from your squats.
So, it’s unlikely that you’ll perform calf raises with the required intensity.
Therefore, exercise selection is probably the most important factor when it comes to supersetting GVT.
You could choose complete opposite muscle groups:
- Chest & Back – Bench Press & Bent Over Row
- Quads & Hams – Front Squats & Leg Curls
Then again, you could turn this into an upper/lower body split:
- Shoulders & Hamstrings – Military Press & Romanian Deadlift
- Biceps & Quads – Barbell Bicep Curl & Leg Extensions
The choice is entirely yours.
Be Wary of Your Rest Periods When Supersetting
The final consideration when supersetting GVT is your rest periods.
This is probably the thing that causes the most confusion.
In fact, I have read many articles about GVT and supersets over the years, and many of them don’t actually make a great deal of sense.
It’s almost as though the author either doesn’t want you to try supersets or they’ve never actually used them at all.
Firstly, a superset involves performing two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in-between.
So, when I’ve previously read of taking 60-90 seconds between exercises, this is not supersetting in my mind.
Additionally, this isn’t going to save you a great deal of time.
For me, the best method would involve supersetting the two exercises as normal.
In other words, the only “rest” you get between exercises is the time it takes to put one weight down and pick the other up.
Then, I would suggest that you now take 90 seconds rest between sets, rather than the standard 60 seconds.
This is simply because you will have performed a total of 20 reps with pretty much no rest, so the slightly longer rest period makes more sense.
However, once more, and as is always the case with GVT, be extremely strict on your specific rest periods.
German Volume Training Superset Tip
So, I hope you understand that traditional German Volume Training does not involve using supersets.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use supersets.
In fact, this is a great way to get more work done in less time, while increasing the cardio and conditioning effect of your workout.
However, ensure that you superset exercises that won’t negatively impact each other.
Let’s face facts, GVT is tough enough when performed the traditional way, never mind when you increase the intensity.
Finally, make sure you’re strict with your rest periods.
Move directly from one exercise to the next within your superset and then only take rest (90 seconds) once you’ve completed both exercises.
Next, I want to introduce you to another training protocol, more specifically I discuss whether doing push/pull/legs once a week is enough.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.