T Nation

Things I've Learned... and Still Learning

I suddenly realised that I have spent most of my training time as gym rat imitating a “lab rat”. This over the years has probably not been the smartest thing but it has certainly helped others I have coached over the years.

Spent Monday coaching our number 2 junior shot putter (18.60m 5kg at 17)with his OLs. Was lots of fun to train someone with such huge natural talent. Everything I told him to do, he just did, first time, (hey, I used to hope they got it right by Christmas)

It made me realise that the resourses we have for middle aged lifters are very limited. As I fight back the years I continue to learn, somethings that used to work, now don’t and others that did not, are now so important.

Thought I would start my own list, if anyone has others, please add them, but lets not start an argument on each point.

Firstly I use no HRT, as I compete, (and never ever used before seems kind of dumb to start now) so if you do then what you are experiencing is of no use to me or others like me, so your posts would belong elsewhere.)

Background on me:
Terrence Gibbs, started Ol back in 1970, started my state PL association in 1975 (luckily the national Chairman did not realise is was liasing with a 21 year old)

Helped manage that sport for 10 years head refereed 10 straight state titles (retired at 32 a veteran of officiating, never to return), trained a few junior throwers, although that was never my intention (they lifted so thought why waste it)and one got to the national all school meet and threw in the open division, at 5’8" and 84kgs. Smallest ever competitor in the event (got 9th) Threw max for around 10 weeks a year, maybe threw twice a week.

Trained and competed against former Ol wr holders, OG OL coaches, my training partner attempted a OL jr WR competed with 66m discus thrower Wayne Martin, Peter Farmer 12th 76 OG hammer, stayed on a fold up bed in Mike Lambert’s spare room for a week (or two) in 1980 and trained with George Frenn and Roger Estep.

Sometimes I forget how much this has given me and how lucky I have been.

This is strength power related, not bodybuilding, kind of doing it so I don’t clog up Carl’s excellent thread.

Anyway onto my first point


When young every now and then I thought I should do ab work. I have no concentration span, so high reps for me is 15. Used 60lbs on my chest in roman chair situps, and thirty pounds attached between my feet for leg raises. This done years apart with much inactivity in between.

Do not think they ever did anything for me. Since then I have taken up throwing, hammer and heavy weight. Now if you do these events plate swings and special exercies are so very important. ( I have been told)

Found out two things. If I specialise in one mid section movement say sit ups with weight behind head, etc to the exclusion of other ab exercises then I get very, very strong in the movement. My throws don’t feel the benefit. If I move to a different ab exercise then I am often back to scratch, as the strength with me is in a very narrow band.

If I do lots of different ab movements without worrying about pushing the weight, then I think I get better results.
So variety in a wide range is better than excellence in a limited range.

Now what has worked best is throwing kettlebells pud style. Everytime I give up plate twists and just play with these when I come back to plate twists they have gone up.
My lower back feels so much better as well.

Now this may just be me, and what works for me due to things I am still yet to work out may never work for anyone else.

Have noted Danny Johns feels plate swings don’t help him too much either, (but he still does them…and I do too)

I have aways been a huge ab worker. It is my belief that it is vital to the safety of my back.

It is called the core for a reason. It’s where the power starts. This power is increased with breathing techniques. The greater the core strength the more explosive the power.

Streamline that is what I always beleived, which is why I every now and then I put in a serious effort. But overall what I personally found, was that at the end of my work out, (and due to work study life they were almost always twice a week 3-4 hours,) I was too tired for abs.

Always did a SLD heavy around 90% of my limit dead and round back GMs, later built a nice hyper bench, never had a back problem from lifting (one, but was gone in a week).

Yep, so know the theory, and am sure it is very important for others, but for me, it has basically meant nothing. My son threw shot nationally and may have done abs three or four times over 5 years. Held state jr, dead record and exceeded national, and had a six pack, as a shot putter !!!

Back in 1971-1974 I lifted in Glebe Police Boys club, and Burwood Police boys clubs. Although these were “boys clubs” in Burwood in 1972 we had three guys trying to get to Munich, one made it, George Vasil former jr WR holder in the press, in Munich came 6th off three lifts in 60 kgs.

Many guys in these clubs lifted for Australia over the next decade in World Champs, Commlth games etc. At Burwood once or twice I saw someone do incline situps, they had a 1 month period (lasted about a week but the coach tried) each year when they were supposed to run, bodybuild etc,as well as lift so during those few weeks there was some abs.

At Glebe, they had numerous future WC competitors, and commlth games medalists. MY training partner PETER HEDGES
attempted a WR C & J of around 145kg at 60kg just before he turned 20.

Coach was our 1974 Commlth games coach Bob Taylor, and we never did abs, the gym was 4 platforms, a ladder rack, one squat rack, four bars and you would never have laid on that floor, as it would have taken weeks to get the chalk dust out of your clothes.

So I know what coach “X” says, but I know what I saw.

Isometrics. Just doing these works. Doing them while doing explosive exercises would increase the results by 10 fold.

I found that I do Isometrics on my abs then I’m at work or working out. Everyone does them to an extent just living our lifes. Add intense workouts and you have some strong abs.

If one wants to show their abs off. Well that will take a bit of sculping. Strong abs are the result of an active lifestyle.

The more active one is, and depending on their activities they will have abs with varying degrees of strength.

See if you can keep track of how many times a day you contract your abs to aid in a task. It’s a surprising amount.

It has been proven that doing lots of sit-ups doesn’t add that much to their strength. A short strict regiment of about five minutes can create amazing abs.

I am a firm believer in Isometrics, Being in Akedo showed me how powerful they can be. Some of the breathing and muscle work done will make you fell like you just dead lifted a frick’N semi. Its. One of the most useful additions a person can add to his/her routine not only does it work the core, but it all so gives that blood rush pump we so love. And this can be done to nearly every body part any where you are at.

When I’m training for OL, I rarely do any direct ab work. Jerks, front squats, snatches, cleans, and pulls all work on stabilizing the torso. Seems to be plenty of ab work without anything focused.

When I’m training for throwing, I work various twisting exercises regularly. Similar to Terry’s observation, I find throwing heavy weights (35 and 56 lb) works abs very well. All my throws benefit when I throw weight frequently.

When I was younger, I did lots of varieties of situps and leg lifts to work abs. These I’m sure helped with volleyball. (I used to play up to 20 hours a week until my knees were no longer able to take the abuse)

So I guess in summary, there has not been so much a difference due to age, but one due to the applicability of various ab work to my sports obsession of the moment. The ab work has always been specialized, just to different ends.

Carl, Herc and Stream thanks for the views.

I agree with all.

And I think Carl said it well, "due to the applicabilty of various ab work to my sports obsession of the moment "

If you are not an OL diver or gymnast why train like one…

thanks guys