Professionals take on Beds’ game-changing facilities

Wed 14 July, 2021
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A GB triathlete and TV doctor are the most recent VIP guests to utilise the University of Bedfordshire’s Human Performance Centre and its facilities.

Housed at the Bedford campus, the School of Sport Science & Physical Activity (SSPA) boasts world-class fitness testing equipment to help train the next generation of sports scientists and physicians.

Body composition testingOver the years, the HPC team has welcomed a number of professional sportspeople. Most recently, Lucy Charles Barclay – Red Bull triathlete – spent the morning at the facility, undergoing tailored testing to help advise her course of training and nutritional needs ahead of the Ironman World Championship, which is taking place in Hawaii later this year.

Of the experience, Lucy said: “As these were maximal tests they were difficult for sure but the team were great and very encouraging. I always find it interesting to see how my stats line up with my previous tests and data, as it gives me plenty to work on in my next training block.

“This is the second time I’ve visited the University of Bedfordshire’s Human Performance Centre – my previous visit was for heat prep in the run up to the Ironman World Championship in 2018. Things have changed a bit since then but the team are still amazing and make a very hard days testing fly by, and the value this has on my preparation is invaluable.”

Lucy continued: “I will be taking part in my fourth professional Ironman World Championships this October and this year I am going for gold. These tests really help me track my progress and most importantly calibrate my training zones for optimal performance during my sessions. It’s really important for me push my limits to the max to get to where I need to be on race day, so this data is so valuable to my success.”

Bike testingTests Lucy underwent included body composition analysis and blood analysis of her haemoglobin and haematocrit levels. She also participated in cycle ergometer testing which analysed her lactate substrate usage and a Vo2 max test, which are both great indicators of endurance performance and individualised training prescription. The team were thoroughly impressed by her physical abilities.

Dr Michael Newell, Senior Lecturer in Health, Nutrition & Exercise, said: “Lucy is a world leading ultra-endurance athlete which means she has adapted her body to meet the demands of some of the most physically challenging conditions human beings can experience.  When undertaking this suit of tests – it is fascinating to see how her physiology permits her to undertake such incredible feats of human endurance.

“The testing we provide at the HPC means that we are able to give accurate and personalised training recommendations to Lucy. This specificity means she is able to continue to progress towards her goals by training at the correct intensities to elicit the positive adaptations she needs to perform against the world’s best athletes.”

People of all ages, fitness levels and BMIs have visited the Human Performance Centre (HPC) for the centre’s team of researchers and PhD students to test their health, ability and allow them to make suggestions to improve their overall wellness and develop their performance.

Dr Newell continued: “The protocols we use are tailored specifically to the client – so you can be a world leading Iron woman, a decent club level athlete, or looking to take your first steps towards increasing your physical activity. All of the outcomes of the testing are specific to the individual undertaking them – making the services at the HPC accessible to everyone who wishes to make use of them.”

Channel 4

Earlier this year, the University hosted Channel 4 and TV doctor, Dr Michael Mosely. They brought along a participant for episode two of health documentary, 21 Day Body Turnaround. During their visit, Dr Jo Richards – Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology – measured the participant’s body composition through hydrostatic weighing in the HPC underwater weighing chamber.

Dr Richards said: “Underwater water weighing is the gold standard assessment of body composition.  The participant was nervous about putting her head under the water but we talked everything through and she did a brilliant job.  Although the camera crew was there, we delivered the testing as we always would – prioritising the participant, ensuring they were safe and were comfortable with what they are being asked to do.”

The next guests lined up to visit the Human Performance Centre (HPC) are some athletes who will be running the Marathon de Sable in the desert. They will be using the HPC heat chamber which will test their ability to acclimatise to high temperatures.

Dr Martyn Morris, Head of School of Sport Science & Physical Activity, added: “It’s fantastic to see such a broad range of external guests utilising our game-changing facilities. As well as providing vital and, in some cases, life-changing information for participants, it allows our researchers and students the chance to hone their skills to ensure they can pursue a rewarding career in sport and exercise science.”

To discover the facilities and the variety of sport science courses and research opportunities with the University of Bedfordshire, visit: www.beds.ac.uk/howtoapply/departments/sspa

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