Exercise Physiology And Sports Science

Physiology is the science of how living things work. Exercise physiology is the science of how the body responds to sport or physical activity.

Sport science is the science that studies the application of scientific principles and techniques to try to improve sports performance. Physiology is one part of this – others are nutrition, psychology, biomechanics.

Having an understanding about your own physiology, or fitness, will help you ensure that you train in the right way to see improvements in your fitness.

We offer a range of fitness assessments, from lab-based to field-based.

This support is available to anyone, no matter their fitness level. We currently provide support to a wide variety of sports people, from students, through to members of the public and elite and professional athletes.

We have worked with a wide range of sports, including athletics, triathlon, cycling (road, track and mountain bike), orienteering, rowing, canoeing, motorsports (motocross, superbikes, Moto GP), football, rugby, cricket, lacrosse, hockey and many others.

Services Available Include:

Exercise Physiology: Healthy-lifestyle-tips

Lab-based physiology assessments: These are available with exercise modes including running, cycling and rowing. Assessments are usually divided into two parts (submaximal and maximal) and include measures of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), maximal heart rate, economy, lactate thresholds and corresponding heart rates and maximal aerobic power (cycling), speed at VO2max (running).

A detailed written report is produced, explaining results, highlighting strengths and weaknesses and giving training advice and guidelines.

If you want to know just how fit you really are, or exactly what training you need to be doing to improve then these tests are for you, regardless of your current level of fitness or goals. You can read more about our running, cycling and triathlon specific testing on those sports pages.

Field-based fitness assessments: Healthy-lifestyle-tips

These assessments are suitable for team-sports or individuals from more sprint/power based sports or events. Particularly popular before and after pre-season/winter training, the results can be used to guide training to focus on particular areas of weakness or to assess the effectiveness of training. Fitness can also be monitored throughout the competitive season.

Common variables measured are speed, agility, strength, leg power, aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Tests are tailored to meet the demands of the sport and assess fitness appropriately for that sport.

It’s not just about improving your overall fitness though, you need to understand what the physiological demands of your sport or event are.

The training you would do for a marathon would be very different to the training you would do for a 5K. So how do you know what the right training is?

Our sport specific pages will give you guidance on this (half-marathon training, marathon training, swimming training, cycling training), but here we would like to help you understand some of the common exercise physiology terms and measures that you’ll probably have heard fellow-athletes talking about or read about in magazines.


What is Physiology?

Let’s start with the basics. A bit more indepth description about what exercise physiology is, as well as a little bit about sport and exercise physiology. This is a massive topic, so we’re only going to scrape the surface.


One of the terms you’ve probably heard of as it is a very common measure of fitness. Also known as ‘maximal oxygen uptake’. If you’ve ever done the bleep test, this is what you were assessing. A key variable for endurance sports.

Lactate Threshold

Now this is a bit of a contentious one. Different people (athletes, coaches, sports scientists) will use this term and variations on it to mean different things. So here we explain what lactate is, what thresholds are, and why it is useful for an athlete to understand this.

Body Composition Assessment

If you’re trying to lose weight, put on muscle mass or just improve your sporting performance, having an assessment of your body composition can help. There are several different ways this can be assessed. We explain what these are, the pros and cons of the different methods and how you can get the most out of knowing what your body composition is.

Running Economy

Running economy is a measure of how efficiently you use oxygen when running at a certain pace. Particularly if you are a distance runner, the more economical you are the better. We talk you through some of the research into running economy and performance, and what you can do to improve your running economy.

Fitness Tests

Fitness tests are a way of assessing where your strengths and weaknesses lie with regards your fitness. Having this information is helpful because you can see what areas you need to train to improve. You can also monitor your progress and therefore see the effectiveness of the training you have been doing. There are fitness tests you can carry out yourself, and ones that are done in a laboratory.

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