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Ask Dave: What do you think of German Volume Training?

So I’m on the way out the gym the other day when a young lad from the BJJ stops me to say hello.

hi there

Immediately I’m faced with a dilemma.

My missus needs me home so she can meet her cousins for a dinner date but this young fella just passed his personal trainer exams and has been bubbling with great questions ever since.

A dilemma I choose to deal with by taking time to chat with the lad while psyching myself up for a cycle home so fast that even Lance Armstrong would have to nod in appreciation!

His question was simple:

What do you think of German Volume Training?

And my answer, “it’s bang on if you’re looking to bulk up. Is that what your looking to do?”

His answer then was, “No, I want to get leaner”

Ah. then we have a problem.

German Volume Training (which from here on in will be called GVT) is fantastic. I’ve never used it, nor have I ever programmed it for anyone, but I know several bodybuilders that have made great gains on it.

The problem then is, what if you’re not a bodybuilder?

GVT is a targeted, intense mass building protocol. For a BJJ player, the problem with the program is two fold.

1: They compete in weight classes, so bulking is very often out of the question.

2: GVT is energy sapping and doesn’t leave a lot in the tank for a session on the mats later.

3: As a bonus, body building type practices don’t do a lot for your movement quality.

So what would be better?

For his goal of leaning out, the first thing to do is look at his diet. That’s where changes in bodyfat occur.

But for the gym, call me biased but there’s a great resource out there called “Fighting Back” that deals with the needs of a BJJ player in some detail and even includes specific warm ups and strength training options.

I hear the author is really, really good looking too……

Here’s a link (click on the image):

Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info

Other than that, I have used Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 with great success on a few of the BJJ lads, but again, there’s a point where they need to back away from the constant drive to lift more iron and instead look at movement quality, building strength outside of the saggital plane and building power at odd angles. And for this a combination of tools is key.

Basic barbell lifts, kettlebell lifts, bodyweight drills, sandbags and sledgehammers all have their place.

But for that you’ll have to come see me!


Dave Hedges

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