Hand Down, the BEST volume workout for me over 20 years of lifting is German Volume Training. This a workout set/rep scheme that I always come back to at least once a year for a month or two. If done correctly this approach will really test your will.
When working out you can focus on one of three areas. Volume, where you attempt to pile on more muscle mass. Max Effort, where you attempt to improve your 1-3 rep max on a lift. Dynamic Effort, where you attempt to improve your power and acceleration on lifts.
What Is German Volume Training (GVT)
To perform German Volume Training you select a main compound exercise and do 10 sets of 10. That is it, sounds so freaking simple, yet the execution by that 8th set can feel like torture. Plus the name sounds like something out of the old Eastern European Bloc of countries that would massively abuse Steroids for any and all competitions, which is always a bonus. Identifying the correct weight for a lift is probably the biggest challenge. Starting with around 50% of your max on a lift is a solid starting point. Another way to look at it is to pick a lift you can do 20 reps in a single set for. Mix in the Double Progression method to work your way up to 100 reps.
EX: You start with 135lbs on a bench press and you are able to as follows
· Set 1-6 for 10 reps each for 60 reps.
· Set 7-10 for 8 reps each for 32 reps
· Total workout of 92 reps.
Since you did NOT hit 100 total reps you would remain at this weight. On your next workout with this exercise your primary goal is to raise that rep number. Once you are able to fully knock out 10x10, move the weight up by around 5-10 lbs.
Compound pushing exercises such as Bench Presses, Incline Bench Presses and Military Presses are ideal for 10x10. Pulling exercises such as barbell rows and weighted pullups are also ideal. For the lower body deadlifts and squats are ideal.
Avoid Isolation Movements
This is not a worthwhile approach for isolation single joint type movements such as Curls, Shoulder Raises, Tricep pushdowns, etc. You do not get the bang for your buck on these types of exercises so attempting this much volume on a single joint exercise would be using up way too much of your gym time spend.
I would NOT suggest performing this type of volume with Olympic lifts. By the 8th set the final reps are likely to get a tad sloppy and that is a HUGE no-no on Olympic lifts as so many bodyparts have to work in perfect unison.
Benefits of GVT
With most things in life, simple is almost always better. From a tracking and thinking standpoint GVT is as simple as it gets once you identify a proper weight to start with. Also, not having to get up to change the weights every set provides an extremely efficient workout and an ideal technique for wheelchair lifters. The physical benefits are surprising as it will always result in size improvements when used in short spurts.
Be Warned, it is grueling as you approach the last 3-4 sets. It will feel easy at first but as the cumulative fatigue sets in it will become painful. Good painful, but painful.