The Amateur Athlete’s Guide to Fitness Science Research Sources
In a previous article I discussed how people can best evaluate the quality of fitness science research. In this article I’m going to point you to some of the best sources of fitness science research, from research journals to science writers to bloggers who write frequently about fitness research.
Fitness Science Journals
When I was in high school, I used to come home from school to tell my father what I was studying in my history class. My father had a master’s degree in History (he wrote his Master’s thesis on the economic foundations of the Jamestown colony) and probably would have earned a doctorate if World War II and then family hadn’t gotten in the way.
I would tell him what I’d read or learned that day and he would laugh and tell me that if I really wanted to learn what actually happened, I needed to go read more original sources and quit relying on what the textbook writers were telling me.
This same advice holds for understanding the fitness and exercise research literature. If you want to learn exactly what the researchers think about fitness science, you need to go directly to the scientific journals where the research is published.
Here is a list of some of the most popular exercise and fitness science journals, as listed by Michael Matthews and James Krieger in their book Fitness Science Explained:
- Journal of Applied Physiology
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Journal of Nutrition
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Most of these journals have a subscription fee but you may be able to obtain access to them at a local college library or even a larger public library.
If you want to just find research on topics you are interested in, the U.S. government runs a free database called PubMed, where you can search for your topics of interest. The website for PubMed is https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.
Fitness Researchers and Coaches
The most easily accessible fitness researcher I’m aware of is Stephen Seiler. Seiler is from the United States, having earned his doctorate the University of Texas — Austin, but for the past twenty years or so he has been teaching and doing research in Norway. He is currently a Professor of Sports Science at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway.
Seiler is well known for his work on the polarized training model, which is more commonly known as 80/20 training. In this model, athletes should do 80 percent of their training at an easy intensity and perform 20 percent of their training at a high intensity. Seiler’s has performed research in this area, as well as other areas in exercise science, on runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and rowers.
Besides his research papers, which can be found in many of the research journals I mentioned earlier, you can also follow him on Twitter. His twitter handle is @StephenSeiler. Seiler provides links to many of his papers as they are completed and he frequently comments on various topics in fitness and exercise science.
One of my favorite endurance coaches who frequently comments on fitness science research is Jason Koop. Koop coaches at CTS in Colorado Springs, Colorado and has several elite ultrarunners as clients. In addition to his coaching, Koop is the author of a comprehensive guide to ultrarunning training, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning.
Here are links to a few Koop articles that will give you a good feel for how he applies recent exercise and fitness science research to his coaching practice:
- 3 Sports Psychology Strategies to Prevent Ultramarathon DNFs
- Why Heavy Strength Training is Most Effective for Runners
- The Science Behind Ultrarunning’s Witching Hour
There are many more articles like this at the CTS web site. Koop’s articles explain the science behind these topics, provides links to the original research papers, and he gives his readers practical advice on how to apply these findings to their own running and exercise regimes.
Stacy Sims is a revolutionary researcher who studies female physiology and how women can apply her research to their athletic pursuits. Sims specializes in sex differences in training, nutrition, and environmental conditions.
Sims was an exercise physiology researcher at Stanford University from 2007 to 2012 and is currently a senior researcher at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Sims also has an extensive private practice where she works at applying her research to female athletes all over the world.
Sims’ primary work these days is the development and teaching of two online courses: Women Are Not Small Men and Menopause for Athletes. These courses, which last from 10 to 14 weeks, are provided online and consist of a set of videos that are supplemented with Facebook Live chats.
There are links to Sims’ research at this link on Google Scholar. Here are links to th
ree more recent research papers where she is the author or co-author:
- Where are all the men? Low energy availability in male cyclists: A review.
- Nutritional Needs of the Female Athlete: Risk and Prevention of Low Energy Availability.
- Menstrual cycle and thermoregulation during exercise in the heat: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Anne Guzman is a researcher in sports nutrition who has a large following on Twitter. Guzman has a growing sports nutrition consulting business named Nutrition Solutions. Through this company Guzman provides both personalized nutrition consulting and group seminars on sports nutrition.
Guzman also writes a blog on sports nutrition. Here are three of her recent articles:
- The Hungry Athlete -A Two Part Series on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, RED-s
- Creatine and Carbo Loading During Endurance Events
- Nutrition — The Little Things Add Up
I have seen more and more fitness scientists and coaches reference Guzman and her work in the past few months.
Fitness Science Writers and Bloggers
The first writer I want to cover is Alex Hutchinson. Hutchinson is a fitness writer who covers the latest research in both physical and mental training. Hutchinson is a great resource for providing insights to fitness science because he is both a champion athlete (two-time finalist in the 1,500 meters Canadian Olympic Trials) and a trained physicist, with a doctorate from Cambridge University.
One of the best ways to follow Hutchinson is to follow his column in Outside’s online magazine — Sweat Science. This column usually highlights research from fitness science and how runners, cyclists, and swimmers can apply this research to their training.
Here is a short list of the last few articles Hutchinson has written for this column:
- Rethinking the Cross Training Paradox
- We Now Have the Lab Data on Nike’s Breaking2 Runners
- Scientists Weigh in on the Great Trekking Pole Debate
Besides his Sweat Science column, Hutchinson also wrote a popular book that covers a lot of recent fitness science research, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. This book looks at recent research on the limits of human mental and physical endurance, with a special emphasis on newer research on mental capacity, as this is an area that has not been explored extensively until quite recently.
The writing combo Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness host a blog titled The Growth Equation. Stulberg is a career coach with many corporate clients and Magness is a running coach with several Olympics-quality athletes under his guidance.
Both of these writers write a lot about how to apply fitness research to your athletic pursuits. They have co-authored two books that discuss athletic performance (and performance in life and career pursuits) — Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox. Peak Performance is geared more towards athletes and how to get the most out of their training and The Passion Paradox discusses how to get the most out of your pursuits by focusing more on process and less on reliance on having a passion for those pursuits.
Stulberg and Magness update their blog weekly. Here is a sampling of articles on their blog that reference findings in fitness and exercise science:
- Mistaking Complexity for Understanding
- A Better Way to Think About Exhaustion and Rest
- Everything You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting
Stulberg and Magness are my two favorite bloggers and you should definitely sign up for their newsletter at their web site.
The resources I’ve listed here are just a good start. There are many other scientists, coaches, and athletes who are writing about fitness and exercise science, and you should just use my list as a starting off point. In fact, if you have the time and are so inclined, respond below with your favorite sources of fitness and exercise training science and tips.
Thanks for reading and please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and suggestions.
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