Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

Training Log At a 3-hour Olympic Weightlifting Seminar last week. Working Snatch technique from the blocks.

Published on October 24th, 2012 | by Amna Al Haddad


Training Phase #2 (Week 1): German Volume & Structural Balance

As I embark on the second phase of my training, I can assure you it’s been rather intense! And as they say, if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing at all, hey?

German Volume Training:

The new training phase is based on a combination of German Volume Training (GVT) and structural balance as I have yet to achieve equal strength on opposite limbs and muscles. Before I write the ABC of my training schedule, I would like to explain a little bit about what German Volume training is and what I learned so far about it. German volume training is known as the “10-set” method but varies  in terms of repetition based on the athlete’s or trainee’s level. In a training session it combines two exercises as supersets , often antagonist groups (muscles opposite of each other i.e. pulling vs pushing, quad vs hamstrings as an example).

During week 1 of this phase, training was based on 10 sets of 4 reps (aka 10×4). The goal of that week was to load my central nervous system. GVT is also used to put on lean muscle mass, who wouldn’t want that (especially that I lost 2kgs)? The interesting part for me about this training program was learning that it has been used by weightlifters in their off-season, apart from many other athletes. It is believed to have originated in the 70’s and became popular through Rolf Feser, the National coach of Weightlifting in Germany at the time.

In Germany, the 10 sets method was used in the off-season to help weightlifters gain lean body mass. It was so efficient that lifters routinely moved up a full weight class within 12 weeks. German Volume Training was the base program of Canadian weightlifter Jacques Demers, a silver medalist in the Los Angeles Olympic Games who was coached by Pierre Roy – Charles Poliquin.

To read more about GVT, click here.


Another big aspect about my training has been working with a “tempo.” Last week I have been asked what tempo is. Well, to simply explain it – it is the seconds you spend to perform a repetition, recover, and repeat another rep. I’ve done tempo briefly before, however not at this volume – and I can tell you, it will show your grip off even with a lot lighter weights than you ever lifted. Oh and add fatgripz to the mix, and you’ll be in tears before you even know it.

There are different tempos and each serve a different purpose – from central nervous adaptation, to strength, and to avoid plateaus.

Again, being me, I like to relate everything I do to what I am specializing in – weightlifting. In weightlifting, a number of renowned strength and weightlifting coaches have used tempo for different  reasons. Something that caught my eye the most on the topic was:

….There were also the writings of Soviet lifting coach Michael Rudolf Plugfelder, who had trained Olympic weightlifting champions Vasily Alexeev and David Rigert. Alexeev was the first man to clean and jerk 500 pounds, and he broke 80 world records. Rigert started training with Plugfelder in 1969, set his first world record in 1971 and went on to break 68 world records and win Olympic gold. Plugfelder was also a proponent of varying the tempo for strength enhancement, and his ideas were supported by Professor Alexei Medvedev, head coach of the Russian weightlifting team – Charles Poliquin.

There is a lot more to tempo than I could ever understand at this point, but more about it here.

Since I am in my off-season – achieving optimal balance, strength, loading my central nervous, and my grip – will all translate into my weightlifting, as I have already seen some improvements in last week’s seminar, although I’ve been on this program just a mere few weeks.

At some point, I was one of the people who thought to get better at weightlifting – all I needed to do was Snatch and Clean and Jerk, and work on technique only, and train like the Bulgarians or be on a Russian’s training program, or something. But having spent more time with my coach, reading extensively, and speaking to Pyrros last weekend, I realized weightlifters – in their first early training stages – train to include many other programs and slowly increase the volume of the “actual” sport and after YEARS of training. However, everything they do prior is something that will work toward making them strong and better weightlifters.

Now I will leave you with a brief of how my training was from 16 of Oct – 21 of Oct (Btw, Sunday was my birthday. Yes I train on my birthday too!)

Tuesday - 16 of Oct

Day 1 – Upper Body
10×4 with a 3010 tempo.

A1: Dumbbell chest Press with fat gripz 30lbs/arm
A2: Neutral grip chin ups

Wednesday – 17 Of Oct


Thursday- 18 of Oct

Day 2 – Lower body

A1: Step Ups (aim: 100% weight transferred into the front heel)
A2: RDL’s with 55-65lbs with a 4010 tempo (dropped weight in the last few set, failed last 3 sets)

Friday – 19 of Oct

Olympic Weightlifting Seminar, more about that here.

Saturday – 20 of Oct


Sunday – 21 of Oct

Day 3 – Structural Balance

A1:  Crunches
A2: Side dips on a step

B1: Shoulders external rotations  4×12-16
B2: T3, T2, T1 raises 4×10

C1: Dumbbell single front press
C2: Lying leg rotations

Unlike a normal training log, each week I’d like to include bits and pieces of information about new things that I have learned either in my training sessions or in general. Feedback is appreciated as last week’s training log was one of the top 5 most read posts…With that, I am signing off. Until next week!


Disclaimer: The training program above is designed and specialized for me and my needs as an individual athlete. Before beginning any training regime, always consult the advice of medical and health professionals. The information contained in this post is based on my own understanding and is not a substitute for advice from health professionals.

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About the Author

Amna Al Haddad , born in 21 Oct 1989, is an Emirati who always had a passion for health and fitness. She made history by being the first Emirati and GCC national to ever to participate in the Reebok Crossfit Games Asia Regionals. Since then she embarked on Olympic Weightlifting with being an IWF Arab and West-Asian Champ -63. A NIKE sponsored athlete, a motivational speaker and published author.

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  • My Profile

    Age: 23
    Height: 5’2
    Weight Category: 53kgs

    Competition total:
    Arnold Weightlifting Championships: 82kgs

    Personal Records (kgs):

    Deadlift: 105
    Back Squat: 68
    Front Squat: 60
    Clean and Jerk: 51
    Push Press: 45
    Bench Press: 43
    Shoulder Press: 37
    Snatch: 36