10×10 Legendary or Foolish?

Morning Guys,

I had a short conversation about 10 Set Training with a devilishly handsome young man today. He wanted to know how he could apply it to his training in the future once he had finished his current block.

There are several ways in which you can apply the 10 Set (German Volume Training as some call it) to your workouts, however it will require you to sit down and plan a strategic course of action.

This style of training is a great way to increase the amount of volume you’re doing, not to mention it will help groove a better movement pattern (solid from used that is).

Lets run over the different possibilities shall we.

Standard GVT –

The most common method is the 10×10, most notably popularised by Charles Poliquin. This involves loading 60% of your 1RM and performing 10 sets of 10 reps with only 60 seconds rest in-between each set. Ideally you will use a 4-0-1-0 tempo for the most optimal (brutal) workout.

You may not hit all 10×10 on the first attempt, don’t worry because that means you’ve picked the right weight. DO NOT add more rest or adjust the weight, keep going until all of your sets are done, just log each set down. The first workout may look like this – 10,10,10,10,9,9,7,7,6,5 and if if did I would be proud. Stick with that weight and aim for more reps next time, once you hit every rep with good form you can increase the weight (2.5kg for upper body movements, 5kg for lower body movements).

I wouldn’t advise this on deadlift because well, bye bye lower back. Instead you can use a variation of 10×10 (10×5, 10×3 etc), but more on that next.

10 Set Training –

Similar to 10×10 yet different. In this variation of the concept you will do 10 sets of X-reps. You could do 10×8, 10×6,10×4 or any number of reps you like, all you would need to do is adjust the loading accordingly. Personally I would adjust the loading as follows:

10×10 – Base starting point – 60% 1RM
10×8 – 65% 1RM
10×6 – 70% 1RM
10×4 – 75% 1RM
10×2 – 80% 1RM

You usually lose 1 rep rep 7% weight increase, just something worth remembering. I have gone with 5% jumps because it’s easier on the maths and over 10 sets you’ll thank me

Keep the rest periods and the tempo the same if you’re looking for a good mix of hypertrophy and strength.

Super Set 10×10 –

As it sounds, you will be using and A1-A2 methodology. This means you do one exercise followed immediately by another and then rest 60 seconds only.

When looking to super set exercises you can do an antagonist pairing (push/pull, squat/hinge etc) or an upper/lower – recommended.

I would opt for an upper/lower pairing because it is slightly easier and more achievable for most people. That would be a squat with a press for example. This isn’t limited to compounds either, you could have a squat S/S with a lateral raise if you felt you wanted some weak point training, this is a great way to get in some extra volume on lagging body parts.

When planning your super sets you can do them how ever you choose, just remember the overall fatigue you will experience. This is why a compound movement + a weak point movement works very well. As above rest/tempo stays the same, unless YOU want to change it which is fine.

Jump Sets 10×10 –

These are not often spoken about by fit-pros these days which is sad, they are a great way to train and ideal for those who want a nice simple workout that can be done in less than 40min.

A jump set is similar to a super set, however in stead of the recommended Compound + Weak Point above, for this I would encourage the use of two compound movements so that you ge the best bang for you buck in the shortest amount of time possible.

How does it work?

A1 – Squat – 1st set x10
Rest 60sec
B1 – Press – 1st set x10
Rest 60sec
A1 – Squat – 2nd set x10
And so on until you’ve done all 10 sets of each exercise.

Using the jump set principle you are able to get in more rest between each compound lifts set, thus allowing you to still push hard on each exercise. An upper/lower or antagonist split works very well for this. Again, the 4-0-1-0 tempo s advised.

Squat & Press, Rows & Dips are a cracking pair, then all you need to do is put in some pull ups or rows (or do Squat + Pull Up instead) and you;ve got a great workout (Y).

10 Set Training & The Deadlift –

Now many call the deadlift the King of exercises. It hits pretty much every muscle in your body (if done correctly) and can become very taxing. High rep deadlift do have their place but it’s rare you will ever see stronger lifters doing 10×10 on them because of the extraordinary amount of stress it puts on the body (lower back especially).

If you were to do rack pulls, block pulls of a variation of the deadlift you may survive 10×10 but I am not sure at what cost. I did it once and had DOMS for literally 3 weeks, this impaired my other training and I decided it wasn’t worth it in the end.

Deadlifts typically work well in 1,2,3,4 or 5 rep ranges, I would use the loading below s a starting guide (you can adapt it yourself from there):

10×5 – 60%
10×4 – 65%
10×3 – 70%
10×2 – 75%
10×1 – 80%

Remember you will want to keep to the 60 second rest period. You can even make this nice and hard by using the 4-0-1-0 tempo (or even a 5-0-1-0 tempo).

Unlike the Squat, Press and Pulling movements I wouldn’t do this more than once per week. If you use the above reps you could do a 5 week loading phase followed by a week off of the DL and then start again at a slightly higher 10×5 weight (1st time around 10×5 at 100kg, 2nd time 10×5 at 105kg for example).

Summary –

All of the methods above have their merits and uses. Depending on you goal some will work better than others. What i have given you above are basic guidelines and they can be tweaked to your need. If you want to change the tempo then go for it, the same goes for the weight increases and the reps, the only thing that must stay consistent is the rest.

Squats/Press/Pulls can be done 1-3 times per week depending on your schedule, deadlift I would only do once per week. Keep in mind this is a lot of volume and will be very taxing, you must make sure you’re eating the correct amount of calories for your goal and recovering properly. This is where tracking your workouts and using auto-regulation (feel) will be key to progressing.

An example week could be as follows:

Day 1 – Front Squat 10×10 + 2 Assistance Movements – Posterior
Day 2 – Press OH 10×10 + 2 Assistance Movements – Pulling
Day 3 – Deadlift 10×5 + 2 Assistance Movements – If alive are 10×5
Day 4 – Bench Press 10×10 + 2 Assistance Movements – Pulling
Day 5 – Back Squat 10×10 + 2 Assistance Movements – Posterior

Use what is written above word for word if you wish, or adapt it to what you think you need. Remember the key to progress is progress and experimentation.

Enjoy,
Ross

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