The current fashion in bodybuilding and weight training is to workout with heavier weights and to do fewer repetitions, generally in the range of 5-10 reps per set with around 15 reps for each exercise (usually 5 sets of 5 reps or 2 sets of 8 reps). Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for his high volume bodybuilding methods, which although have been discredited by many people today, they certainly resulted in excellent results for him.
However, some people are starting to give the old high volume training another look. German volume training involves super-setting two exercises together to work the muscles to exhaustion in both directions.
Typical volume training would involve combining dumbbell curls with triceps extensions. These are very popular exercises for men as they help to quickly build upper arm muscle which are the ones that are most easily displayed – remember that the triceps are the larger muscle group in the arms, so for bigger arms you need to work the triceps more than the biceps! Although squats and bench press do build much bigger muscles, they are rarely on display to be showed off. Big biceps are often the first sign that a guy works out.
The theory behind volume training is that performing more reps increases lactic acid build up and hormones in the muscles which aids muscular hypertrophy. So how is it done?
All you do is combine 2 different exercises into one “super-set”. This means that you do not rest in between each type of exercise. So for example. you perform 10 standing bicep curls, and then immediately follow it with 10 triceps extensions. Then rest after the super-set is complete, and then repeat it.
Really the best exercises for this type of training are bicep curls and triceps extensions. You can also super-set bench press and flyes, or presses with rows, but these muscles do not always respond to well to the volume training approach.
You cannot really take this approach to all of your weight training, because you will quickly start over training. With volume training you need more rest and more nutrition to repair the muscles. It is generally recommended that you do not train each body part more than once every 4 days with volume training.
One way to make volume training easier is to use the same weight for each exercise. For example, if you have a combi-bar then you can perform 20kg curls and 20kg tricep extension on the same bar. This makes working out much easier as you can quickly transition between exercises.
If you want to bulk up your biceps and triceps quickly, then this form of training is excellent. It will not make you the most athletic person, but it will make your muscles bigger and more defined.