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As winter draws in, the weather gets worse and the beach muscles tend to go into hibernation. Most gym goers use this period as a chance to put on some serious quality muscle and add some size to their “t-shirt muscles” instead.

In this instance hypertrophy training usually comes into play and along with this the aesthetic minded individuals out there go into a “bulking” phase of their diet cycle to then help them transition into the hotter weathered periods with better quality lean muscle (see LDN Muscles Bulking Guide download). Well, if you are anything like me, and like to stay relatively lean all year round (I personally like to stay no further than 4-6 weeks off of prime condition, so body fat needs to stay relatively low) the next workout protocol I’m going to show you is lean mass builder, which also helps you shed excess body fat or at a minimum, keep it low for the clean bulkers out there. But, let face it, you cannot really have the best of both worlds, if you want to put on size over winter, your body fat will take a little hit…

One of the best and most researched workouts to build some serious size and lean mass is “German Volume Training”, also known as the “10 set method”. It is used in the offseason by elite level weightlifters and bodybuilders worldwide to literally move up weight classes in under 12 weeks. You’re reading that right, people have been known to put on substantial amounts of size very quickly, using the this method, 10 pounds of quality muscle is not unheard of to be put on in 6-8 weeks

The reason GVT is so effective is it targets specific motor units to intensive amounts of volume in a short period of time. And the reason so much size can be gained by the effort is because the muscle group is essentially hypertrophying the type fibres to cope with the workload….but enough of the boring stuff, let get to the crux of what’s required to get big & lean, fast.

The main goal of this method is to essentially complete 10 sets of 10 reps for each exercise, this exercise is usually a big compound movement which is then supplemented with a smaller movement once completed. The first exercise though, you select a weight that you can just about complete 20 full reps of or around 55-65% of your 1RM for that chosen movement. You then look to complete 10 full sets of 10 (with a 4 second eccentric movement) with no longer than 90 seconds between sets. The great thing about this protocol though, is you can actually superset body parts, if you do try this method (better for further fat burning) then do ensure you leave that 90 seconds between sets. I would suggest this though, for the more advance gym goer. This cycle needs to be completed for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

LDN Muscles Recommended split:

Day 1: Chest and Back

Day 2: Legs and Abs

Day 3: off

Day 4: Arms and Shoulders

Day5: off

Below is a bastardised version of GVT, which was developed by myself and my friend & Poliquin training/palaeo eating expert Tom Burchmore (@tomburchmore) and along with the correct diet and staying strict to this method, Tom, was able to increase his lean weight by nearly a stone in an 8 week period.

Day 1: Chest and Back

(Note: tempo example: 4=4 seconds down 0=zero rest at the bottom of the movement, x=explode & 0=zero rest at the top of the movement)

A-1 Bench Press

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

10 seconds rest

A-2 Chin-ups (on chin up weighted machine if possible)

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

90 seconds rest

B-1 cable crossovers

3 sets

10-15 reps

30×20 tempo

10 seconds rest

B-2 bent over dumbbell rows

3 sets

10-15 reps

30×20 tempo

60 seconds rest

 

For more DOM creating brutal workouts check out the LDNM Individual Muscle Group Workout Packs here, many utilise GVT and the evil 6-12-25 protocol.

Day 2: Legs and Abs

A-1 Squats

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

10 seconds rest

A-2 Leg curls

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

90 seconds rest

B-1 weighted hanging leg raises

3 sets

10-15 reps

20×20 tempo

10 seconds rest

B-2 calf raises (machine or standing with smith machine)

3 sets

10-15 reps

20×20 tempo

60 seconds rest

 

Day 4: Arms and shoulders

A-1 Dips (weighted IF required)

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

10 seconds rest

A-2 Hammer curls or rope curl

10 sets

10 reps

40×0 tempo

90 seconds rest

B-1 standing Olympic bar shoulder press

3 sets

10-15 reps

20×0 tempo

10 seconds rest

B-2 lying side laterals (see LDN Muscle article)

3 sets

10-15 reps

20×0 tempo

60 seconds rest

Things to Consider:

This may not look that intense, but believe me it is! When I first looked at this workout, I thought for sure there wasn’t enough emphasis on arms and shoulders, but after 2-3 weeks of giving this a go, I can tell you that this protocol is completely exhausting and does work the whole of your body. At the end of the ten sets, you’ll feel like muscles have been worked in your body that you didn’t realise existed!

The challenges to keeping this consistent are: the rest period, this is VERY important to stick to as well as the tempo to as close as you possibly can. You may find the first 3-4 sets of this workout on any body part at first feel like it isn’t doing much, but come to the 6th, 7th and 8th and you really have to start digging your heals in to complete, you shouldn’t need to drop set or rest pause either as the volume should truly take care of the workload. Also, this is a FIVE DAY cycle, not a week, so after the day 5 rest day, the following day should be day 1 of cycle 2.

If you do have the energy and are not suffering hugely with DOMS, then you can have active rest days, feel free to time in some dead lifts to supplement another full body movement (not recommended near leg day!) and some extra C.V and abs…

Enjoy!