Former Marine builds US sporting muscle

Wednesday 4 July 2012
John McMahon
A former Royal Marine Commando turned student will by helping US athletes go harder, faster, stronger - thanks to an award from an international authority on strength and conditioning.

Sports science graduate John McMahon beat off stiff competition to win a $9,500 grant from the US-based National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). The NSCA aims to improve athletic performance and fitness by developing the most advanced information and research findings regarding strength training, conditioning practices and injury prevention.

John left the Navy in 2007 to study for a sports science degree at Salford. As an undergraduate he took advantage of the University’s top flight sports links, gaining experience with UK Athletics and Manchester City. He specialised in physiology and biomechanics in his final year and in 2010 he graduated with a first class honours degree.

The grant will fund John’s research into determining the effect of different types of weight loading on the stiffness of muscle and tendon in the lower limb. This will involve around 30 men taking part in an eight-week resistance training study during which stiffness will be measured by ultrasound, electromyography, and force and motion data.

The study aims to identify the best types of resistance training to optimise muscle-tendon stiffness in the lower limb during the performance of athletic tasks such as running and jumping.  As stiffness is a trainable mechanical property of the human muscle-tendon system which significantly influences both muscle force production and muscle contraction efficiency, the study should lead to more accurate resistance training programmes and improved athletic performance.

On completion of the study, John will travel to the US to present his findings at the NCSA’s annual conference.

He said: “I’m only the second student from the UK to receive this award and it’s a fantastic opportunity to build relationships with my international peers. It will also enhance my future employability in research and lecturing.”

John is Lead Director at High Performance Conditioning, a team of Salford graduates based on the campus who provide strength and conditioning services. He is also Head of Strength and Conditioning at Sedgley Park rugby club.

John hopes to become a University of Salford lecturer and researcher when he completes his PhD, and to continue his consultancy work through his own business and at local sports clubs.