Stronglifts 5×5 vs German Volume Training: Which is Best?
So your training routine has become stale, you have plateaued, and your monstrous gains have stalled, so what do you do?
So do you keep plugging along with the same routine? As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke…..’ but in this case not fixing it means you won’t be able to break the mold, and potentially add to your physique. So with that said, you need to change it up. But the question is, what kind of new routine should you try?
Today I am looking at two hypertrophy based routines: Stronglifts 5×5 program, and German Volume Training (GVT).
Stronglifts 5×5 programme:
This programme is designed to build muscle and strength and was used by the legendary Reg Park.
So How it works:
You only need to train 3 days a week, and you only perform 5 sets x 5 reps on each exercise, this is usually Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday (but can be alternated, but you will need at least a days rest between each session)
To ensure proper recovery, this program advises against training on consecutive days or doing two sessions in one day.
You will need to alternate between workout A and workout B, so workout A would be performed on Monday and workout B on Wednesday and then back to A on Friday.
Workout A. Workout B.
|Squat 5×5||Squat 5×5|
|Bench Press 5×5||Overhead Press 5×5|
|Barbell Rows 5×5||Deadlift 1×5|
|Push Ups 3 x Failure||Chin Ups 3 x Failure|
At the beginning of the program start with 50% of your 5 rep max and then add 5lbs/2.5kg of total weight to each exercise (each lift), and then progressively during each week keep doing this until you can’t get 5 reps on all 5 sets anymore.
If you happen to stall on an exercise and cannot perform 5 reps then take off 10% of the weight. This should help get your back on track for that particular session and the decrease in weight should only apply to that session only,, the next workout session should be back to your previous weight load.
This is a great beginner or even a great back to basics program, and it’s also a great program if you don’t have access to any fancy equipment.
This kind of workout is efficient as more muscle groups are being stimulated simultaneously, it is also more functional, it can burn more calories, and because compound movements create more muscle damage, it can lead to the increased levels of testosterone and Growth Hormone (GH).
It sounds like a winning formula to me, so now let’s have a look at German Volume Training.
German Volume Training (GVT) is designed to hit your larger muscle groups with intensity, and it is very simple in its execution: 10 sets x 10 reps.
The premise is that the 10 set method originated in Germany in the 70’s, and was used in the off season by weightlifters to help them gain lean mass, and the GVT method was cultivated further by Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers.
So Why choose GVT:
This workout will help in maximizing blood flow, as the muscles are hit using high volumes, and by repeatedly hitting the muscles with this kind of intensity it will allow for increased muscle hypertrophy.
Ten sets of ten reps, with the same weight for each exercise, so pick a weight which is suitable for that duration, so approximately 50-60% of your 1 Rep Max (1RM)
With a rest period of 60 seconds between sets
So if your 1RM for squat is 315lbs, your weight would be approximately 126-157lbs.
Due to the intensity of the workout one exercise per body part would be sufficient, in my workout plan below I have added some optional exercises too for those that can;t help themselves.
Also this workout should not be exceeded for more than 4 weeks as it could lead to injury.
Monday: Quads + Hams + upper abs
Wednesday: Chest + Biceps + lower abs
Friday: Back + Triceps
Saturday: Shoulders + Calves + obliques
Quads: Front squats: 10 x 10 reps
Leg extension 3 x 10 reps (optional)
Hamstrings: Stiff leg deadlift: 10 x 10 reps
Lying leg curl 3 x 10 reps (optional)
Upper abs: weighted cable crunch 10 x 10 reps
Chest: DB flat bench press: 10 x 10 reps
DB flyes: 3 x 10 reps (optional)
Biceps: EZ bar curl: 10 x 10 reps
Lower abs: weighted knee raises 10 x 10 reps
Back: single arm DB row 10 x 10 reps
Weighted pull ups: 3 x 10 reps (optional)
Triceps: lying down EZ bar French press 10 x 10 reps
Shoulders: clean and press 10 x 10 reps
Calves: Seated calf raises: 10 x 10 reps
Donkey calf raises: 10 x 10 reps (optional)
Oblique’s: weighted oblique crunch (with a plate or cables) 10 x 10 reps
As with 5 x 5 even though GVT isn’t all compound movements it is still a great regimen for building lean muscle, burning fat and increasing strength.
So which routine is better? A study from 2017 found ‘the 10 sets method, is no more effective than performing 5 sets per exercise for increasing muscle hypertrophy and strength’.
The study also goes on to state that ‘To maximize the training effects, 4–6 sets per resistance exercise is recommended as it appears that muscular hypertrophy will plateau beyond this range and may even regress due to overtraining’.
So this would seem to suggest that 5 x 5 would be a more practical approach than GVT but not enough research has been done specifically on 5 x 5.
So in conclusion 5×5 V GVT? Why not mix it up and combine the two? Such as 10 sets x 5 reps per exercise with a weight load similar to that of GVT, or go a bit heavier and attempt 5 sets of 10 reps, (with a rest pause if you start to fail).
The beauty here is that as long as it works there is no right or wrong routine.