The Complete Beginners Guide to German Volume Training

German Volume Training (GVT) is a highly structured and intense workout method that has gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

Also known as the 10×10 training method, GVT focuses on performing ten sets of ten repetitions for a specific exercise with a high training volume. This training approach aims to stimulate muscle growth, enhance muscular endurance, and improve overall strength.

Benefits of GVT for Beginners

Efficient muscle growth: GVT is designed to promote hypertrophy, which is the process of increasing muscle size. For beginners, GVT can be particularly effective as it provides a high volume of work that challenges the muscles and triggers growth.

Improved strength and endurance: By consistently performing ten sets of ten repetitions with a challenging weight, beginners can enhance both their muscular strength and endurance. GVT pushes the limits of the muscles, leading to improved performance in other activities and sports.

Time-effective workouts: GVT focuses on a few compound exercises, which work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This allows beginners to target different muscle groups efficiently within a single workout session, saving time while still achieving significant results.

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Mental discipline and focus: GVT requires mental toughness and discipline to complete the prescribed sets and reps. Beginners can develop a stronger mindset and improved concentration by pushing through the challenging workouts, which can benefit them in various aspects of life.

Progressive overload: GVT emphasizes progressive overload, which is the gradual increase in training stimulus over time. Beginners can easily track and monitor their progress by gradually increasing the weight used or the difficulty of the exercises, leading to continuous improvements in strength and muscle growth.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the principles and application of German Volume Training, helping beginners understand how to incorporate it into their fitness routines effectively.

Understanding German Volume Training

History and origins of GVT

German Volume Training, as the name suggests, originated in Germany in the mid-1970s. It was popularized by Rolf Feser, a German weightlifting coach, and was initially used to train weightlifters during the off-season.

The method gained wider recognition when it was featured in the German magazine “Muskelkraft” in the 1990s.

Key principles and concepts

High volume, moderate intensity: The fundamental principle of GVT is to perform ten sets of ten repetitions (10×10) with a weight that is approximately 60% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM). This high volume of work challenges the muscles and promotes hypertrophy.

Controlled tempo: GVT emphasizes controlled and deliberate movements throughout each repetition. This helps maintain proper form, increases time under tension, and enhances muscle fibre recruitment.

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Minimal rest periods: GVT typically involves short rest periods of around 60 seconds between sets. This increases the metabolic stress on the muscles, further stimulating muscle growth.

Compound exercises: GVT focuses on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. These exercises provide a more efficient and effective way to work the muscles.

Progressive overload: Progressive overload is a crucial concept in GVT. As you adapt to the initial workload, it’s important to gradually increase the weight used or the difficulty of the exercises to continue challenging the muscles and promoting further gains.

How GVT differs from other training methods

High volume emphasis: GVT stands out from other training methods due to its emphasis on high training volume. The 10×10 protocol pushes the limits of muscular endurance and promotes hypertrophy effectively.

Specificity of exercise selection: GVT focuses on a limited number of compound exercises rather than a wide variety of isolated exercises. This allows beginners to focus on mastering a few key movements, leading to overall strength development.

Intense metabolic stress: The short rest periods in GVT create a significant metabolic demand on the muscles. This metabolic stress is different from the strength-focused training with longer rest periods commonly seen in traditional strength training methods.

Simplicity and structure: GVT provides a structured approach to training, with a clear set and rep scheme for each exercise. This simplicity can be appealing to beginners who prefer a straightforward and organized workout program.

Understanding the history, principles, and distinguishing characteristics of GVT will help beginners grasp the foundation of this training method and make informed decisions when incorporating it into their fitness routine.

Setting Goals and Assessing Readiness

Before starting any training program, including German Volume Training (GVT), it’s essential to identify your fitness goals. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you tailor your training program and stay motivated throughout the process. Some common fitness goals may include:

Muscle hypertrophy: If your primary goal is to build muscle size and definition, GVT can be an effective training method due to its high volume and focus on muscular endurance.

Strength development: GVT can also be beneficial for increasing overall strength, especially for beginners. While it primarily targets hypertrophy, the progressive overload principle in GVT can lead to strength gains as well.

Endurance improvement: GVT’s high repetition scheme challenges muscular endurance and can be useful for individuals looking to enhance their stamina and endurance capacity.

Body composition and fat loss: While GVT is not specifically designed for fat loss, the increased metabolic demand during the workouts can contribute to calorie burn and potential fat loss when combined with proper nutrition.

Assessing your current fitness level

Before starting GVT, it’s important to assess your current fitness level. This evaluation helps you determine if you have the necessary foundation and readiness to engage in a demanding training program. Consider the following aspects:

Strength and experience: GVT can be intense, and it’s beneficial to have some prior strength training experience. Assess your current strength level, exercise technique proficiency, and comfort with resistance training.

Injury history: If you have any existing injuries or medical conditions, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness expert to ensure GVT is suitable for you. They can provide guidance on exercise modifications and precautions.

Recovery capacity: GVT requires adequate recovery between sessions due to the high training volume and metabolic stress. Assess your sleep quality, stress levels, and ability to manage overall fatigue. Ensure you have the time and resources to prioritize recovery.

Determining if GVT is suitable for you

After assessing your fitness goals and current fitness level, consider if GVT aligns with your needs and capabilities:

Alignment with goals: Evaluate whether the primary benefits of GVT, such as muscle hypertrophy, strength development, and endurance improvement, align with your desired outcomes.

Time commitment: GVT typically requires longer workout sessions due to the high volume and short rest periods. Ensure you have the time and commitment to complete the prescribed sets and reps.

Training preferences: GVT involves repetitive sets and a structured approach. Assess if you enjoy this type of training and if it aligns with your preferences for variety, exercise selection, and training intensity.

Personal considerations: Consider any individual factors such as health conditions, injuries, or limitations that may affect your ability to perform GVT. Consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness expert if you have any concerns or doubts.

By setting clear fitness goals, evaluating your current fitness level, and considering the suitability of GVT for your individual circumstances, you can make an informed decision about incorporating this training method into your fitness routine.

Designing a GVT Program

Choosing the right exercises

When designing a German Volume Training (GVT) program, it’s important to select exercises that target major muscle groups and allow for progressive overload. Consider the following factors when choosing exercises:

Compound movements: Focus on compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Examples include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses. These exercises provide a higher training stimulus and recruit a greater number of muscle fibres.

Exercise variation: Incorporate exercise variations to target different angles and stimulate muscle growth from various perspectives. For example, you can include variations of squats like front squats or lunges instead of traditional back squats.

Skill level and technique: Choose exercises that match your skill level and allow for proper technique execution. Beginners should prioritize mastering the basic movement patterns before progressing to more advanced variations.

Selecting the appropriate training volume and intensity

Training volume: GVT typically involves ten sets of ten repetitions (10×10) for each exercise. However, beginners may start with a slightly lower volume, such as eight sets of eight repetitions (8×8), to adapt gradually. As you progress, you can increase the volume to the traditional 10×10.

Intensity and weight selection: The weight used should be challenging but manageable for the prescribed sets and reps. Aim for a weight that allows you to complete all the repetitions with proper form, but still challenges your muscles. A good starting point is using around 60% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the chosen exercise.

Structuring the training split

Full-body or split routine: GVT can be structured as either a full-body routine or a split routine, depending on your preferences and training goals. A full-body routine involves targeting all major muscle groups in each session, while a split routine focuses on different muscle groups on different days.

Frequency and rest days: GVT can be demanding on the body, so it’s important to allow adequate recovery time. Beginners may start with two to three training sessions per week, with at least one day of rest between sessions. As you progress, you can increase the frequency to three to four sessions per week.

Incorporating progressive overload

Progressive overload is a key principle in GVT to stimulate continued muscle growth and strength development. Consider the following methods of incorporating progressive overload:

Increasing weight: Gradually increase the weight used for each exercise as you adapt and become stronger. Aim for small increments, such as 2-5% increases, to maintain proper form and minimize the risk of injury.

Decreasing rest periods: As your conditioning improves, you can gradually reduce the rest periods between sets, increasing the metabolic stress on the muscles and promoting further adaptations.

Adding variations or advanced techniques: Introduce variations of the exercises or incorporate advanced training techniques, such as drop sets, supersets, or tempo variations, to challenge the muscles in different ways and avoid plateaus.

Monitoring progress: Keep track of your performance by recording the weights used, repetitions completed, and overall workout quality. Regularly assess your progress to determine when it’s appropriate to increase the weight or modify the training variables.

By carefully choosing exercises, selecting appropriate training volume and intensity, structuring the training split, and implementing progressive overload, you can design an effective GVT program that aligns with your goals and helps you achieve optimal results.

Sample German Volume Training Workouts and Program

Complete each workout once a week (three days of workouts in total).

Rest four days a week.

Take at least one rest day between each workout day

Follow the plan for 30 days

Workout 1: Chest and Back

  • 1A. Decline Dumbbell Bench Press: 10 x 10, 4-0-2-0 tempo
  • 2A. Chin-Up: 10 x 10, 4-0-2-0 tempo
  • 1B. Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 x 10-12, 3-0-2-0 tempo
  • 2B. One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 x 10-12, 3-0-2-0 tempo

Workout 2: Legs and Abs

  • 1A. Back Squat: 10 x 10, 4-0-2-0 tempo
  • 2A. Lying Leg Curl: 10 x 10, 4-0-2-0 tempo
  • 1B. Hanging Leg Raises: 3 x 15-20, 2-0-2-0 tempo
  • 2B. One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 x 15-20, 2-0-2-0 tempo

Workout 3: Arms and Shoulders

  • 1A. Parallel Bar Dip: 10 x 10, 4-0-1-0 tempo
  • 2A. Incline Hammer Curl: 10 x 10, 4-0-1-0 tempo
  • 1B. Bent Over Lateral Raise : 3 x 10-12, 2-0-0-0 tempo
  • 2B. Seated Dumbell Lateral Raise: 3 x 10-12, 2-0-0-0 tempo

Execution of German Volume Training

Warm-up and mobility exercises

Prior to starting your German Volume Training (GVT) session, it’s important to warm up your body and prepare your muscles for the upcoming intense workout. Consider the following warm-up and mobility exercises:

General warm-up: Begin with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic exercise, such as jogging, cycling, or rowing, to increase your heart rate and warm up your entire body.

Dynamic stretches: Perform dynamic stretches that mimic the movements of the exercises you’ll be performing. This helps increase range of motion and prepare the muscles for the specific movements. Examples include leg swings, arm circles, and torso twists.

Muscle-specific warm-up sets: For each exercise in your GVT program, start with one or two lighter warm-up sets with higher repetitions. This helps further activate the targeted muscles and prepare them for the heavier work to come.

Performing the main GVT sets and reps

Set up and equipment: Set up the necessary equipment for the exercise you’re performing. Ensure proper safety precautions and equipment adjustments, such as setting the appropriate weight on barbells or adjusting machine settings.

Execution of sets: Begin each set with proper form and technique. Focus on controlled and deliberate movements throughout each repetition. Maintain a full range of motion and avoid using momentum or relying on assistance from other muscle groups.

Repetition tempo: GVT typically involves a controlled tempo for each repetition. Aim for a 2-0-2 tempo, meaning two seconds for the eccentric phase (lowering the weight), no pause at the bottom, and two seconds for the concentric phase (lifting the weight). Adjust the tempo based on your abilities and exercise requirements.

Breathing: Maintain proper breathing techniques during the sets. Exhale during the concentric phase (lifting the weight) and inhale during the eccentric phase (lowering the weight).

Rest periods and tempo considerations

Rest periods: GVT typically involves short rest periods of around 60 seconds between sets. This helps maintain a high level of metabolic stress on the muscles and enhances muscle endurance. Use a timer or watch to ensure consistent rest periods between sets.

Tempo considerations: Focus on maintaining the prescribed tempo for each repetition. Avoid rushing through the sets or sacrificing proper form for speed. However, if you find that the weight is too challenging and compromising your form, consider reducing the tempo slightly to ensure proper execution.

Tracking and monitoring progress

To maximize the benefits of GVT and gauge your progress, it’s important to track and monitor your workouts consistently. Consider the following methods:

Workout log: Keep a workout log where you record the exercises performed, weights used, and sets and reps completed for each session. This helps you track your progress and identify areas for improvement.

Progressive overload: Use your workout log to gradually increase the weight used or modify other training variables as you progress. This ensures that you continue to challenge your muscles and stimulate growth over time.

Performance assessments: Periodically assess your performance and track key indicators, such as improvements in strength, endurance, or the ability to handle increased weights. This helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your GVT program and make necessary adjustments.

By following a proper warm-up routine, executing the GVT sets and reps with proper form and tempo, managing rest periods effectively, and diligently tracking your progress, you can optimize the execution of your German Volume Training program and achieve the desired results.

Nutrition and Recovery

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in maximizing the benefits of German Volume Training (GVT) and supporting your overall fitness goals. Consider the following aspects of nutrition when implementing GVT:

Muscle growth and repair: GVT puts significant stress on your muscles, and proper nutrition is essential for muscle growth and repair. Adequate protein intake, along with a balanced diet, provides the necessary building blocks for muscle tissue regeneration.

Energy and performance: GVT is a demanding training method that requires sufficient energy to perform the prescribed sets and reps. Proper nutrition, including carbohydrates, provides the fuel needed for intense workouts and helps optimize performance.

Body composition goals: If your goal is to build muscle or lose fat, nutrition plays a critical role. Balancing calorie intake, macronutrient ratios, and overall dietary quality can help support body composition changes and enhance the results of GVT.

Macronutrient ratios and calorie requirements

Protein: Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair. Aim for a protein intake of approximately 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (or 1.8-2.2 grams per kilogram) per day. Include lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, tofu, legumes, and dairy products.

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide the primary energy source for intense workouts. Include complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes in your diet. The exact carbohydrate intake depends on your individual energy needs and goals.

Fats: Healthy fats are important for hormone production and overall health. Include sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish in your diet. Aim for a moderate intake while considering your overall calorie requirements.

Calorie intake: Determine your calorie requirements based on your goals and activity level. If your primary goal is muscle growth, aim for a slight calorie surplus. If fat loss is the goal, a calorie deficit may be necessary. Consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to determine the appropriate calorie range for your specific needs.

Recovery strategies and rest days

Recovery is an integral part of the GVT training process. Consider the following strategies to optimize recovery and incorporate rest days:

Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery, hormone regulation, and overall physical and mental well-being.

Active recovery: Incorporate light activities on rest days, such as walking, yoga, or stretching, to promote blood flow, reduce muscle soreness, and aid in recovery.

Hydration: Stay properly hydrated throughout the day to support optimal performance and recovery. Drink water regularly and consider electrolyte replenishment during intense workouts or hot weather.

Rest days: Plan regular rest days in your training schedule to allow your body to recover and adapt to the demands of GVT. Use this time to relax, engage in light activities, or focus on mobility work.

Dealing with muscle soreness and fatigue

Foam rolling and stretching: Incorporate foam rolling and stretching exercises to help alleviate muscle soreness, increase blood flow, and improve flexibility.

Contrast showers or ice baths: Alternating between warm and cold water in the shower or taking ice baths can help reduce inflammation, promote circulation, and relieve muscle soreness.

Proper nutrition: Consuming an adequate amount of protein, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory foods can support recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish and walnuts, as they have anti-inflammatory properties.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure a successful German Volume Training (GVT) experience, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that can hinder your progress and potentially lead to injury. Avoid the following pitfalls:

Overtraining and injury risks

Too much volume too soon: Starting with the traditional 10×10 volume right from the beginning may be too challenging for beginners. Gradually progress the volume over time to avoid overtraining and minimize the risk of injury.

Neglecting rest and recovery: Recovery is crucial for muscle growth and injury prevention. Failing to incorporate adequate rest days and recovery strategies can lead to overuse injuries and hinder progress.

Ignoring pain and discomfort: Listen to your body and pay attention to any pain or discomfort. Pushing through excessive pain can worsen injuries or lead to new ones. Consult with a healthcare professional if you experience persistent pain.

Neglecting proper form and technique

Sacrificing form for higher weights: Maintain proper form and technique throughout each repetition. Avoid using momentum, swinging, or relying on other muscle groups to complete the sets. Focus on quality movements rather than simply lifting heavier weights.

Lack of supervision or guidance: If you’re new to GVT or weightlifting in general, seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional. They can help ensure your form and technique are correct and provide valuable feedback for improvement.

Lack of flexibility in exercise selection

Sticking to a limited exercise pool: While GVT focuses on high-volume training, it’s important to incorporate exercise variety to target different muscle groups and avoid overuse injuries. Explore different exercise variations and implement a well-rounded training program.

Neglecting weak areas: Identify any muscle imbalances or weak areas in your physique and address them through exercise selection. Include exercises that target those specific areas to promote balanced muscle development.

Inadequate recovery and sleep

Neglecting sleep quality and quantity: Sleep is crucial for optimal recovery, muscle growth, and overall performance. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support your training efforts.

Insufficient nutrition and hydration: Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for recovery. Ensure you’re consuming adequate calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients to support your training goals and promote optimal recovery.

Failing to manage stress: Excessive stress can hinder recovery and impede progress. Implement stress-management strategies such as meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to promote overall well-being.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can optimize your GVT experience, minimize the risk of injuries, and make consistent progress towards your fitness goals. Remember to prioritize proper form, recovery, and overall well-being throughout your training journey.

Modifications and Progressions

To keep your German Volume Training (GVT) program challenging and effective, it’s important to make modifications and progressions as you advance. Consider the following strategies to continue pushing your limits and avoiding plateaus:

Advanced variations of GVT

Increased volume: As you adapt to the traditional 10×10 volume, you can further challenge yourself by increasing the number of sets or repetitions. For example, you can progress to 12×10 or 10×12, gradually increasing the total training volume.

Reduced rest periods: Shortening the rest periods between sets can increase the intensity and metabolic stress on your muscles. Gradually decrease the rest periods from 60 seconds to 45 seconds or even 30 seconds as you become more conditioned.

Supersets and compound sets: Incorporate supersets or compound sets by pairing two exercises together without rest in between. This increases the training density and challenges your muscles in new ways.

Adding variety and avoiding plateaus

Exercise variations: Introduce different exercise variations to target the same muscle groups from different angles. For example, if you’ve been doing barbell squats, try incorporating front squats, Bulgarian split squats, or lunges.

Tempo variations: Manipulating the tempo of your repetitions can provide a fresh stimulus for muscle growth. Try incorporating slower eccentric (lowering) phases, pauses at different points in the range of motion, or explosive concentric (lifting) phases.

Equipment variations: Use different training equipment to add variety to your GVT program. For example, switch from barbells to dumbbells, resistance bands, or cable machines for certain exercises.

Incorporating strength and accessory exercises

Strength exercises: Include strength-focused exercises that allow you to lift heavier weights and target specific muscle groups. Compound movements like deadlifts, bench presses, and weighted chin-ups can enhance overall strength and support muscle growth.

Accessory exercises: Supplement your GVT program with accessory exercises that target smaller muscle groups or address specific weaknesses. These exercises can help improve overall muscle balance and functional strength.

Adjusting the program as you advance

Progressive overload: Continuously increase the weight lifted as you become stronger and more experienced. Gradually increase the weight used for each exercise to provide a continuous stimulus for muscle growth.

Training frequency: As you progress, you may consider increasing your training frequency from two to three sessions per week to three to four sessions per week. This allows for more frequent stimulation of the muscles and further adaptation.

Periodization: Implement periodization by cycling through different training phases. This helps prevent overtraining, provides variation in intensity and volume, and optimizes long-term progress.

Remember to listen to your body, monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed. By incorporating modifications and progressions into your GVT program, you can continue challenging your muscles, avoiding plateaus, and achieving consistent gains in strength and muscle size.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can GVT be combined with other training methods?

Yes, GVT can be combined with other training methods to create a well-rounded fitness program. However, it’s important to carefully plan and manage your training volume, intensity, and recovery to avoid overtraining. Consider integrating GVT as a primary training focus and supplementing it with other training modalities such as cardiovascular exercises, flexibility work, or sports-specific drills.

Is GVT suitable for all fitness levels?

GVT can be effective for individuals of different fitness levels, but it may not be suitable for everyone, especially beginners or those with specific health conditions. It is an intense training method that requires proper form, technique, and recovery.

If you’re new to strength training or have any underlying health concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider to determine if GVT is appropriate for you.

How long should a GVT program be followed?

The duration of a GVT program can vary depending on individual goals and preferences. It’s generally recommended to follow a GVT program for 6-8 weeks, as this allows sufficient time to adapt to the high volume and intensity.

After completing a GVT cycle, you can consider transitioning to a different training approach or modify the program to introduce new stimuli and prevent stagnation.

What if I don’t have access to a gym?

While GVT traditionally involves the use of barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines commonly found in gyms, you can still modify the program if you don’t have access to such equipment. Consider the following alternatives:

Bodyweight exercises: Focus on bodyweight exercises that target similar muscle groups. Squats, push-ups, lunges, planks, and burpees can provide a challenging workout without the need for equipment.

Resistance bands: Incorporate resistance bands to add resistance and intensity to your exercises. They are lightweight, portable, and versatile for replicating the resistance provided by traditional weights.

Household objects: Utilize everyday objects as makeshift weights. Water bottles, backpacks filled with books, or cans of food can serve as substitutes for dumbbells or kettlebells.

Calisthenics and plyometrics: Explore calisthenics and plyometric exercises that focus on bodyweight movements with explosive and dynamic actions. These exercises can help improve strength, power, and overall fitness.

Remember to maintain proper form, focus on progressive overload, and adjust the intensity based on your fitness level and available resources. Adapt the GVT principles to your circumstances and make the best use of the resources you have available to achieve an effective and challenging workout.


In this beginner’s guide to German Volume Training (GVT), we’ve covered the essential aspects of this intense training method. We discussed the history and principles of GVT, highlighted its benefits for beginners, and provided guidance on setting goals, designing a program, executing the training, and focusing on nutrition and recovery. We also addressed common mistakes to avoid, offered modifications and progressions, and answered frequently asked questions.

Encouragement for beginners to try GVT

If you’re a beginner considering GVT, we encourage you to give it a try. While GVT can be challenging, it offers numerous benefits, including muscle growth, strength gains, and improved conditioning.

By following the principles and guidelines outlined in this guide, you can tailor GVT to your fitness level and goals, ensuring a safe and effective training experience.

Final thoughts and recommendations

German Volume Training can be an effective training method for beginners seeking to build muscle, increase strength, and improve overall fitness.

However, it’s important to approach GVT with caution, emphasizing proper form, technique, and recovery. Consistency, patience, and a focus on gradual progression are key to success with GVT.

As with any training program, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting GVT, especially if you have any underlying health concerns or are new to strength training. They can provide personalized guidance, ensure your training aligns with your individual needs, and help monitor your progress.

Remember, GVT is just one of many training methods available, and it’s important to find what works best for you and aligns with your preferences and goals. Explore different approaches, listen to your body, and enjoy the journey of discovering the training style that brings you the most satisfaction and results.

Best of luck on your German Volume Training journey, and may it bring you closer to your fitness aspirations and a stronger, healthier you.

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