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Sean Lerwill using the deadlift machine

Whether individuals or magazines, I am often asked what my training regime is like. What exactly do I do in the gym to obtain and maintain a physique that ensures I have, keep and get modelling jobs via a sports modelling agent?

Just this week I was asked to supply a normal weeks training to Men’s Health UK for something they are putting together. The problem is I don’t have a “normal” weeks training. I change my regime every 4-8weeks. I find that variation is the key to staying lean and maintaining muscle for me.

However, having said that I do return to styles of training during my rotations and just this week I have returned to GVT (German Volume Training). The normal GVT programme is pretty simple really: three separate days of training split into chest/back, legs/abs and shoulders/arms. The first two days are performed, then a rest day, then the third day, then a rest day and repeat. The idea being to perform 10sets of 10reps with just a minute rest between sets of the first two exercises (which are normally opposing muscle groups) then two further exercises of 12-15reps for 3sets to finish those muscle groups off.

This time however, I’ve decided to modify the GVT style a little bit and split it up further. Thus on Saturday I did GVT chest with 10×10 for incline dumbbell press then 10×10 for decline bench press. Both were fairly light but I really concentrated on a slow tempo of 4020 and squeezing the relevant muscles on each contraction. For the subsidiary exercises I did rope triceps ext and rope overhead triceps ext 12-15reps.

Sunday I had a rest day and then today I used the GVT style training for shoulders. My two 10×10 exercises being dumbbell press and lateral raise. My 12-15reps for 3sets exercises being Arnold press and bodyweight Pike press. To finish I did some abs by performing 30sec weighted planks with 15secs rest until I couldn’t hold for 30secs.

At the moment the weights are light, fairly easy except for the last few reps of the last few sets as the squeeze and slow tempo really adds to the burn. However, like all good training programmes, the magic is in the progression. I am making careful notes of my weights and sets so when I return to these sessions I will ensure I use more weight (or for the pike press perform more reps) thus ensuring progression of the session which in turn will ensure my own progression.

If you are ever stuck for a programme to follow GVT is simple, requires less kit and less moving around the gym and most certainly gets results. One warning though, it does require a little more strength of mind than some programmes. If its hard after 3 sets it certainly plays on your mind that you have another 7 to go, especially when that minute rest just seems to fly by!

For those interested, a type of modified GVT programme used can be like this:

Day 1 – Chest & Back

Chest: 10 sets of 10 reps of a compound chest exercise e.g.

  1. bench press (flat incline or decline)
  2. weighted dips
  3. incline or decline dumbbell press.

Back: 10 sets of 10 reps of one of a compound back exercise e.g.

  1. barbell row
  2. T-Bar rows
  3. cable row
  4. chin ups (pull-ups is too hard for most people).
  5. lat pull down

One or two further exercises of 12-15reps for 3 sets focusing one each muscle group. Examples are incline or decline DB flies, cable flies, cable cross-overs for the chest and straight-arm pull-down, renegade row or a lighted version of one of the other back exercises that wasn’t performed for GVT.

Day 2 Legs & Abs

  • Quads/Glutes: 10 sets of 10 reps of squats or leg presses. I always use squats here.
  • Hamstrings: 10 sets of 10 reps of leg curls or deadlifts (Romanian, sumo or regular)
  • Calves: 10 sets of 10 reps of standing or seated calf raises.
  • Abs: 10 sets of 10reps of an abs exercise. Good examples are cable crunch, rollouts or reverse crunches on bench.

One or two further exercises of 12-15reps for 3 sets focusing one each of the quad/hamstring muscle groups. Examples are leg extension and lying or seated leg curl if it wasn’t performed previously.

Day 3 Rest Day

Day 4 Arms & Shoulders

  • Shoulders: 10 sets of 10 reps of military press, overhead press or a seated Db or BB overhead press.
  • Triceps: 10 sets of 10 reps of close grip bench press, dips (unless used for chest) or skull crushers.
  • Biceps: 10 sets of 10 reps of barbell curls, preacher curls or incline DB hammer curls.

One or two or three further exercises of 12-15reps for 3 sets focusing one each muscle group. Examples are lateral raise, rope extensions or kneeling Db ext and cable curls, Db curls or spider curls.

Day 5 Rest Day

Once you’ve selected the exercises to perform, stick with them for the duration of the programme unless you are away from your normal gym and have no choice but to change. The idea is to stick with the same routine and exercises, but add weight to every exercise each session, thus progressing the sessions and forcing your body to adapt!

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a MaxiNutrition ambassador.

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