Being a Sports and Exercise Science Lab Rat

A friend of mine (Jon) is doing a PhD. in the Sports and Exercise Science Department at Aberystwyth University and was looking for lab rats. Being a glutton for punishment I of course agreed to help out and have now become a participant in his study.

He is researching ‘Supine exercise and the power-duration relationship’ and says that research to date has focused on this relationship during moderate to heavy intensity exercise whereas his study is focusing on the relationship during exhaustive (i.e. severe-intensity) exercise.

It sounds as though some of these sessions in his lab could be hard work, especially as the adverse effects listed include nausea, vomiting, loss of balance and cardiac dysfunction along with localised muscular pain that may persist for more than 24 hours after a testing session. What have I let myself in for?

The first of my sessions was yesterday. Jon was very professional and talked me all through it, told me a little about his research and what the tests were looking at. He what I would have to do and what to expect. Then, after filling in a quick questionnaire / disclaimer I was on the bike and starting the test.

The test yesterday was a ramp test to determine the rates I’d be able to endure during subsequent testing. I had to sit on a very expensive exercise bike and pedal at a constant cadence whilst the resistance was gradually increased. I had to breathe through a tube and wear a nose-clip so that my pulmonary gas exchange could be measured breath by breath. My heart rate was monitored too and in future tests blood samples will be taken as well. All I had to do was keep going until I could go no more!

As expected it started off easy and simply got harder and harder. I found it fairly easy. Working in the aerobic zone was comfortable and I felt as though I could go on forever, but as soon as I passed my gas exchange threshold it was a different story. Jon was shouting encouragement at me, but before long I was down below the desired cadence and had to stop.

A nice little workout though and hopefully my results will aid Jon in his research. Next time I have to do the same, but this time in a suppine (lying down) body position. Should be fun!

All in the name of science, but it should also give me an insight into my fitness levels and hopefully Jon will come up with a few training sessions I could do to improve certain aspects of my cycling fitness.

I’ll let you know how future sessions go.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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