OVT

By Christian Thibaudeau


Somewhere in the dreaded 1990s, around 1995 to be precise, the training world was introduced to a new form of bodybuilding training: German Volume Training. That article was written by an (at the time) up-and-coming star (Charles Poliquin) and really changed the way peoples train to gain mass. The premise was relatively simple: Pick a few exercises and do 10 sets of 10 reps. Simple, yes, but very effective.


However the program has some weaknesses. Some of which were pointed out in TC?s ?German Volume Training 2000?. To name a few of those weaknesses:


- Possible overuse injuries from such a high volume of the same exercises.


- Very high level of boredom. Call me crazy, but for me to stay motivated I must have at least some fun in the gym!


- Not enough emphasis on some muscles and some muscle function. With GVT you cannot use many exercises because of the sheer volume would be too much! As a result you might develop some muscle imbalances.


- This one is a new one: GVT neglects strength. In fact I?ve known several athletes who actually got weaker (in regard to their 1RM) on GVT even if they gained a lot of mass. The reason is that the super high volume, but low intensity causes mostly non-functional hypertrophy and doesn?t require an intense neuromotor involvement.


For these reasons, the second generation of GVT: GVT2K, was a step forward and still remains a top of the line bodybuilding program. However it?s the last weakness that got me thinking, experimenting and tinkering. That?s how I came up with a variation of volume training that will increase strength and functional hypertrophy alike. Enter Optimized Volume Training!


The overview


For OVT I kept the basic premise of doing 100 total reps per muscle group, as it?s a time proven approach. However the distribution of those reps is vastly different from the original GVT program.


First difference: Every set is in fact a superset of two exercises working the same muscle group(s). The first exercise in the superset is a big compound exercise (e.g. bench press, squat, deadlift, rowing, even clean or snatch) and it?s done for 5 reps using as much weight as possible. The second exercise in the superset is an isolation exercise for the main muscle being worked in the first exercise. This second exercise is also done for 5 reps, but with a small load and a very slow tempo (505).


Second difference: While in GVT all the 10 sets were on the same exercise, we will employ two different supersets per muscle. Each superset being performed 5 times (50 total reps per superset). This will allow us to use 4 different exercises for a muscle group, which should take care of boredom and imbalances.


Third difference: In the original program the prescribed rest interval is 60 seconds. Since we want to be able to lift a bit more weight we?re going to take 120 seconds in OVT. But there is no rest between exercises in the same superset.


Training split


Because of the high demands of the program, each body part is only worked once per week. The following split is to be used:


Day 1: Chest and back

Day 2: Legs and abs

Day 3: OFF

Day 4: Biceps and triceps

Day 5: OFF

Day 6: Anterior/medial deltoid and rear deltoid

Day 7: OFF


While exercise selection can vary according to your preferences, the following has been proven very effective:


Day 1: Chest and back

A1. Bench press

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo


A2. Flat dumbbell flies

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset A. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


B1. Incline bench press

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


B2. Incline flies

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset B. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


C1. Lat pulldown

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo


C2. 1 arm rowing

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset C. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


D1. Bent over barbell rowing

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


D2. Seated cable rowing to abdomen

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset D. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


Day 2: Leg and abs

A1. Front squat

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo


A2. Barbell lunges

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset A. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


B1. 1 leg back extension

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


B2. Leg curl

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset B. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


C1. Sumo deadlift

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo



C2. Romanian deadlift

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset C. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


Abs are done according to individual preferences.


(note that because of the involvement of all the leg muscles in most of the exercises we only do 3 supersets instead of 4)



Day 4: Biceps and Triceps

A1. Standing barbell curl (shoulder width grip)

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo


A2. Seated alternate dumbbell curl

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset A. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


B1. Scott bench curl

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


B2. Standing alternate hammer grip dumbbell curl

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset B. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


C1. Weighted dips

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo



C2. Decline dumbbell triceps extension

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset C. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.




D1. Barbell lying triceps extension

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


D2. Cable pressdown

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset D. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.



Day 6: Anterior/medial deltoid and posterior deltoid

A1. Military press

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo


A2. Incline dumbbell lateral raises

5 reps with 60-65% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset A. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


B1. Seated alternate dumbbell press

5 reps with 75-80% of your max

201 tempo


B2. Standing plate front raise

5 reps with 55-60% of your max

505 tempo


Repeat superset B. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.


C1. Seated cable row to the neck

5 reps with 80-85% of your max

201 tempo



C2. Bent over dumbbell rear delt raises
5 reps with 60-65% of your max
505 tempo

Repeat superset C. 5 times with 120 seconds of rest.




(note that because the rear deltoid is already heavily involved in the back workout we only include one superset for it)


Changing the exercises


Exercise variation is important. For OVT I recommend using blocks of 4 weeks of training. Perform the same exercises for 4 weeks, then choose other exercises and complete another 4 weeks block. A complete cycle of OVT lasts 8 week. After which you should engage in an easier form of training for 1-2 weeks to allow for the maximal delayed effect.


Load progression


One of the keys to OVT success is the constant drive to increase the load on the first exercise of all the supersets from week to week. This will literally make or break the program! Strive to increase the load but not at the expense of proper form! For the second exercise of each superset, load progression is not as important, its role is mostly to increase training volume and total time under tension. If you can increase the load in this exercise, great! But as long as you are progressing on the heavy exercise you?ll be fine.

You?ll notice that I include percentages, these are just guidelines. The important thing is to go as heavy as possible for the first exercise of a superset while using a light, controllable load for the second one.


Conclusion


I firmly believe that with OVT a new door has been opened as far as gaining size is concerned. Not only will it give you a lot of new muscle, that new muscle will be functional and you?ll have the strength to go with your size!