Adding GVT To Your Back Workout

Increase Your Deadlift Power

The deadlift is a great workout. It’s a compound exercise that focuses and engages your legs, back, shoulders and forearms. The important thing with deadlifts is to keep a good technique, or what’s known in the gym as “good form”. Straying into the territory of “bad form” where you start rolling your shoulders and arching your back not only looks uncomfortable, but actually feels pretty bad too – not just during the exercise but also for quite some time after as well.

In this article I’m going to take you through the process I followed to increase my deadlift power by over 20% in 4 weeks. I went from being able to comfortable deadlift multiple sets at 100kg to being able to complete multiple sets at 130kg.

This is what I did –

On paper this is a simple four stage workout, but after completing one hundred deadlift reps you’ll soon realise that four exercises is all that you need!

Introducing German Volume Training, aka, GVT into your training regime is a great way to improve raw power and overall muscle endurance. It’s isn’t easy and isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you’re serious about building muscle and ensuring it lasts, this is definitely for you.

Below are the basic exercises that you’ll need to complete to improve your deadlifting power. It’s your choice as to what order you complete the exercises, but this is what worked best for me.

Don’t forget to warm up!

I can’t stress enough how important it is to warm up before starting this workout. Your back is crucial to pretty much everything you do, not matter how strenuous or relaxed your normal day is. Injuring or damaging your back can have serious effects your overall health – so always remember to warm.

I’d suggest starting on a static rowing machine. Aim to complete in the region of 1000 – 1500 metres and increase the tempo every 500 metres. This is called a “negative split” and will make sure you’ve warmed up and loosened your body, and importantly, will increase you heart rate so more red blood and oxygen will be pumping around your muscles.

Lat Pull Down

Lat Pull Downs are great for targeting your upper back mostly. You may be thinking “how will this improve my deadlift strength?” and that’s a valid question. My answer would be, to think about the full deadlift motion, the upper back comes into play throughout the full movement, but most of all when you’re nearing the full upright position. Bringing your back to a full vertical shape whilst the bar is trying to rip your shoulders from the sockets.. (only joking….or am I??!)

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • Using a lat pull down machine, lock you legs in place where your knees should be bent at 90 degrees and your back should be completely straight.
  • Take hold of the pull down bar above, ideally using the widest possible grip.
    • The wider your grip, the better your results.
    • A wider grip also means, wider lats!
  • Pull the bar down until it passes your chin and hold for a second.
    • The further you pull down the bar, the more movement you’re gaining and the more of the lat muscles you’ll be working.
  • After holding for a second, slowly allow the bar to raise, but don’t jerk the bar at all.
    • You should be in control on the exercise and the pull down bar at all times.


Here we are, the reason behind this whole workout plan.

This is the “meat on the bones” and the reason why you’re reading this workout article. Well here we go –

  • 10 x 10 reps
  • Set up your bar with the weight that will push you on every rep, but not so heavy that you’re over straining – remember, you’ve got 100 reps to complete in total!
  • Stand in front of the bar with it over your feet.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend forward at the knees and hips to take hold of the bar.
    • Your grip on the bar should be on the outside of your legs.
    • There are three different grips you can use, however I prefer to an alternative grip
      • One hand overhand and one hand underhand.
  • Your back should remain straight and you should continue to look forward.
    • Looking forward will help keep your back straight.
  • Lift the bar with your arms and back straight and drive upwards through your hips and knees
    • This engages your lower shoulders, upper and lower back muscles, glutes and legs.
  • Once in a fully standing position, roll your shoulders back and push your chest forward.
  • This is the finishing position and mid-point of the total movement.
  • To lower the bar, you should reverse the above instructions.
  • Once again, bend at the hips and knees to bring the bar back to the floor.
    • Ensure to keep looking forward to maintain a straight and strong back.
  • You’ve now completed one full rep. The plan is to do this 9 more time which will be one set.
  • This exercise needs to be completed 10 times or 10 sets

Bent Over Long Bar Row

The bent over row exercise is purely about strength and improving raw power and focuses on muscles in the middle of your back.

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • Place you weights on one end of an olympic bar.
    • The empty end should be secured in the corner of the room or between objects that will prevent the end from moving from side-to-side.
  • Stand over the weighted end of the bar, with the bar running between your legs.
  • As before, lean forward at the hips and bend down closer to the bar at the knees.
  • Grip the bar with both hands.
    • Continue to keep your head raised and looking forward.
      • This will ensure your back is straight.
      • You can over emphasis this by trying to keep your shoulders raised and stomach stretching for the floor.
  • Keeping your core in a static position, raise the bar towards your chest.
  • Once at your chest, hold for a second before lowering back to the floor.
  • Keep your core in a fixed position and looking forward then begin to lower the bar to the floor.
  • Once the bar is resting on the floor again, the exercise is complete.
  • You now need to complete this exercise for another 9-11 reps.

Pull Up

The final exercise in the four workout training plan, is pull-ups. Many people see pull-ups as the bread and butter of back, shoulder and strength training.

Compared to the other exercise in this workout plan, pull-ups are the easiest to do, however, by now you’re back muscles will be feeling pretty tired and your heart rate will be pretty high too. But dig deep and get this done!

  • 3 x 10 reps
  • You don’t need to use a specific pull-up machine, you simply need to be able to hang with you arms fully extended and feet off of the floor.
  • When hanging, pull yourself up until your chin is in line with the bar.
  • Hold this position for a second.
  • Lower yourself back to the hanging position.
  • That’s literally it – one pull up complete.
  • Just 9 more to do!

Check Progress

After starting this four stage training plan, I started to see significant improvements in just 2 weeks. The first thing I noticed was an increase in my raw deadlift strength, I was adding more plates on to the Olympic bar almost immediately!

You’ll start to see results in two places –

  • Increased strength by lifting more weight
  • In size – you’ll start seeing a more ripped back and your lats will appear wider.

Once you start adding more plates to the bar, you could also take progression photo’s to show the before and after evidence of how your back is growing and developing.

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And Finally…

Finally…. Good luck with this training plan. It isn’t easy, but obtaining real results never is – hard work is always worth it!

If you want more articles on workouts for building muscle or getting ripped click here for more results.

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