As a follower of many a training thread on the bike forums, I have always gotten conflicting reports when it came to going gym work. The conventional wisdom seems to be that for endurance cycling, weights aren't needed or particularly helpful. But for track sprinting, certain exercises are useful.
After speaking with the team's strength and conditioning coach this week, I have now started gym workouts as part of my regular training. And I was surprised to find out that many of the exercises I HAD been doing in the past were not only useless, but possibly even hurting me!
So today I hit the gym with a new outlook and a bunch of new things to try. Squats were still on the menu, but now I'm doing them differently and in different positions. Things like sit-ups are out - but Pilates are in. Planks and bridges - to strengthen the core. Never again will I scoff at housewives who go to Pilates classes!
And yesterday I visited to Limb Centre - when they build my artificial legs. It's a pretty standard prosthetic - made for walking and everyday use. But I'm after a cycling-specific one. One made without a foot - but so that the cleat attaches directly to the bottom of it, and then to the pedal. They are lighter and stronger, and transfer more of your power directly to the pedal. Here's a pic of Jody Cundy (World and Olympic Champion and World Record Holder, with his leg):
They are going to look into if they can make one for me or not and also gave me the contact info for a place in Manchester that works with other Paralympic athletes. I have contacted them regarding some form of sponsorship to see if they can help me out.
A leg like this could take seconds off my sprint times - and that could be the difference between getting on the podium.... or not.
And you thought choosing a pair of cycling shoes was difficult!