5 X 5 Vs. German Volume Training: Which One Is Better For Mass?

bodybuilding 5x5 vs german volume training

Every year, you’ll find new tricks and trends for how to build muscle. Without fail, many of these schemes to build muscle fast are out the door and replaced with a new set as soon as the New Year rolls around. Few training methodologies for building muscle mass have withstood the test of time, but without a doubt two of the most proven and popular workout systems are 5 x 5 and German Volume Training.

Let’s take a look at the variables of each system and which one is best for building muscle mass in this 5 x 5 vs. German Volume Training review.


You might know the 5 x 5 workout as Stronglifts 5 x 5. As the name implies, the 5 x 5 workout system involves performing five sets of five repetitions of an exercise. The weight load should be heavy enough that you’re only able to push out five repetitions and you should be struggling with those last two. Typically, you’ll be able to use around 85% of your one-repetition maximum with this system.


Strength: The acute variables of the 5 x 5 workout make it ideal for increasing strength and this includes grip strength. In fact, this is one of the most commonly cited benefits of this workout.

Muscle: While the acute variables do fall more into the strength camp, the 5 x 5 system is still effective for putting on size. The question is not, “Does 5 x 5 build muscle?” The question is, “Is this system better than German Volume Training?” More on that below.

Convenience: This is a barebones workout. If you’re using the popular version of the 5 x 5 system, you’ll be performing five exercises: squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, and overhead press. This means you’ll need minimal equipment and nothing fancy.

Want to make sure that your deadlift flawless? Check out our deadlifting checklist for perfect form and execution.


The 5 x 5 system uses alternating A and B workouts. For example, if you perform Workout A on Monday, then you’ll use Workout B on Wednesday. On Friday, you’re back to Workout A. Instead of restarting the pattern, you’ll perform Workout B on the following Monday and continue in this fashion.


  • Squat: 5 sets of 5 repetitions
  • Overhead Press: 5 x 5
  • Deadlift: 5 x 5


  • Squat: 5 x 5
  • Bench Press: 5 x 5
  • Barbell Row: 5 x 5


Often abbreviated as GVT, the German Volume Training workout, much like 5 x 5, is simple in theory and tough in practice. For a GVT workout, you select one compound exercise per muscle group, then you perform ten sets of ten repetitions. This is why it is also referred to as the 10 x 10 workout. In order to achieve ten sets of ten repetitions, you’ll be using less weight, typically around 50% to 65% of your one-repetition maximum.


Insane Pump: Completing one hundred repetitions of an exercise is going to force blood into the working muscle, creating that pump many bodybuilders aim for every workout.

Muscle Building: The acute variables of GVT are ideal for muscle hypertrophy. You’re bringing the working muscle to absolute failure, creating an environment for growth.

Straightforward: The simplicity of this workout can’t be overstated: use compound movements and perform ten sets of ten reps. There’s no wondering about whether you need special equipment or accessories. Just go to the gym and lift.


Depending on your experience with weightlifting, there are a few ways to split up a GVT workout. Here are two different workouts: one for the beginner and one for the advanced. The advanced workout includes supplemental exercises that do not abide by the 10 x 10 rule. This ensures the muscle is worked but not to the point of overtraining.


Monday: Legs and Abs

  • Squat: 10 sets of 10 repetitions (Avoid bar burn with our squat pad.)
  • Leg Curl: 10 x 10
  • Cable Crunch: 10 x 10

Tuesday: REST DAY

Wednesday: Chest and Back

  • Bench Press: 10 x 10
  • Barbell Row: 10 x 10

Thursday: REST DAY

Friday: Arms and Shoulders

  • Overhead Press: 10 x 10
  • Alternating Biceps Curls: 10 x 10
  • Rope Pushdown: 10 x 10

Saturday and Sunday: REST DAY


Monday: Chest

  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 10 x 10
  • Flat Bench Press: 3 x 10
  • Cable Crunches: 3 x10

Tuesday: Legs

  • Barbell Squats: 10 x 10
  • Leg Curls: 10 x 10
  • Crab Walks: 3 x 10

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Back

  • Barbell Row: 10 x 10
  • Pull-ups: 3 x 10
  • Side Crunches: 3 x10 (Protect your form and body with our abdominal mat.)

Friday: Shoulders and Arms

  • Overhead Press: 10 x 10
  • Preacher Curl: 10 x 10
  • Rope Pushdown: 10 x 10

Saturday and Sunday: REST DAY


In short, you should be using both the 5 x 5 workout and the German Volume Training workouts. Here’s why:

There’s no doubt that GVT is designed to build bigger muscles, but it’s unlikely you’ll see much in strength gains. The 5 x 5 workout can be a much-needed complement to GVT. By rotating these workouts every few weeks, you can increase size and strength, one benefitting the other.

If you don’t focus on strength, you’ll eventually hit a plateau in your muscle building training. By focusing on strength training via the 5 x 5 workout, you’ll be able to significantly improve your GVT workouts.

Start with either type of workout and use it for three to four weeks, then switch to the other workout.

If you’d rather stick with one over the other, that’s okay. Both will put on muscle, but German Volume Training will deliver more mass. No matter which workout system you choose, be sure to follow the principles of progressive overload so you continue to see results.