Skip to main content
School of Health and Society

Exercise Physiology Testing Service

Our Service Offers

  • A choice of treadmill or cycle exercise tests relevant to performance in endurance based activities
  • Tests include use of specialist equipment to measure maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), running economy, blood lactate and heart rate profiles, and cycle specific power tests that are common practice with elite athletes
  • Setting personalised training zones (which refers to training intensity) appropriate to our findings and your specific goals that you can apply in your training programme

An assessment starts from £80. You will come into the Exercise Physiology lab for around 1 hour to perform the exercise test. This will be followed up with a report detailing our findings including personalised training zones.

A Lactate Threshold test identifies blood lactate transition thresholds which can be used to develop athlete training zones. These refer to the intensity you train at which can be given as a running speed, power output or heart rate. These thresholds are good predictors of endurance performance and are sensitive to training.

The test involves 3 minute exercise stages that are easy to begin with but gradually get harder up to a high intensity level. Heart rate (from a heart rate monitor) and blood lactate (from a finger or ear prick) are measured at the end of each stage. The test will last approximately 30-40 minutes. Two thresholds can be identified during this test - a report will be produced for you that will identify the thresholds and these will be used to set your training zones.

The first threshold occurs at the exercise intensity at which blood lactate begins to rise above resting levels, termed Lactate Threshold (LT). It marks the shift from purely aerobic (low intensity) exercise to exercise that requires some anaerobic energy contribution (moderate intensity) that produces lactic acid. Training intensity at or below LT is relatively low and one should be able to maintain it for a prolonged period of time (hours).

The second threshold occurs at a higher intensity than LT and represents the highest intensity (power output or running speed) that one can maintain for 30 minutes or so. At intensities above this, lactic acid would accumulate quickly to levels that would limit your ability to continue exercising because of fatigue.

Tester taking blood sample for Lactate test

The highest amount of oxygen an individual can use during exercise is known as maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and indicates one’s aerobic potential. This test also measures your peak aerobic power or running speed and the data can  be used for setting training intensities.

The test involves 1 minute exercise stages that are easy to begin with but gradually get harder using small increases in running speed and/or gradient (for treadmill protocols) or power output (for cycle protocols) until exhaustion. You will wear a mask over your nose and mouth throughout the test to  allow respiration to be measured, and a heart rate monitor to measure heart rate. This exercise test will last approximately 10-12 minutes.

VO2 Max test on treadmill


Running economy (RE) is the energy required to run at moderate running speeds – this is assessed by measuring oxygen uptake. The lower the energy required (so lower oxygen uptake) to run at a particular speed, the better your running economy and the more efficient you are. It is a useful test to undertake at the beginning and end of a training cycle to gauge improvement.

This test involves running at three-five different treadmill running speeds each lasting around 4 minutes. You will wear a mask over your nose and mouth throughout the test to allow respiration to be measured.

Factors that may influence running economy include a combination of genetics (e.g. physique, muscle fibre types), running mechanics (e.g. technique – running kinematics, stride length, arm movement), physiological factors (e.g. flexibility), training factors (e.g. inclusion of strength/plyometric training) and even shoe type.

Running economy test on a treadmill

We are also able to offer specific tests of power output relating to cycling. Many riders now use power meters as their primary method of gauging training intensity thresholds, often in conjunction with heart rate monitors. Using a high quality cycle ergometer (Lode Excalibur) we will undertake either a Functional Threshold Power or Maximal Aerobic Power tests, based on your needs.

The Functional Threshold Power test is, simply, the maximum power you can sustain for an hour of riding. This test is an excellent indicator of overall capacity of your body to undertake very high intensity work. Many elite riders use these values to measure progress and create individualised training intensities. Following a warm-up specific to your needs, you will then undertake a sustained very high intensity ride for 20 minutes. This 20 minute period will be tough, and results are then used to predict your one hour performance, and subsequent training zones.

A Maximal Aerobic Power test is similar to the classic VO2max. Starting at a low intensity, the test will become increasingly harder every 1-2 minutes until you can no longer continue. The final minute value that is achieved is then used to calculate your maximal aerobic power value. Many riders then use percentages of this value to determine training thresholds, and also generate a cycling-specific VO2max value.

Both of these tests are commonly used in all performance populations. However, these are designed for use by healthy populations, and a pre-test screening is essential to ensure you are ready to cope with the demands of the tests.

Cycling Specific Power Test

Training zones refer to the intensity you train at. Heart rate is very often used to express training intensity and is usually combined with specifying running speed, or power output for cyclists. A number of training zones can be identified, for example, using lactate data training zones are commonly set as low intensity training (zone 1), moderate-high intensity training (zone 2), and interval training (zone 3), but the number of zones can be expanded if necessary.

Power meters are common sights at races and training events. These devices provide an excellent insight into exactly how much power you are able to transmit to the pedals, providing a truly individual insight into your ability and performance. To gain most benefit from your power meter, you need to generate accurate baseline data, such as is determined from a Functional threshold Power (FTP) test. You can then determine race strategy, pacing, and tactics based on the thresholds of your FTP performance. Regular assessments of your FTP are essential in measuring improved performance. There are number of training zones associated with your FTP data, and we will provide details of how to use your power meter to identify the following:

  • Zone 1 - Active Recovery = < 55% of FTP
  • Zone 2 - Endurance = 56-75% of FTP
  • Zone 3 - Tempo = 76-90% of FTP
  • Zone 4 - Lactate Threshold = 91-105% of FTP
  • Zone 5 - VO2 Max = 106-120% of FTP
  • Zone 6 - Anaerobic Capacity = 121-150% of FTP
  • Zone 7 - Neuromuscular Power = maximum effort

Hence, for training to be effective, the intensity you train at needs to be appropriate for your goal. This could be to improve, for example, race pace, functional threshold power or maximal oxygen uptake. Re-assessment after a period of training allows changes in performance to be checked, training zones to be monitored, and training intensity recommendations to be adjusted accordingly.

Assessment Team

Clare Marsh

Clare Marsh

Clare is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Salford and has worked at the University since 2000. She has experience of working with cyclists, runners, and triathletes carrying out a variety of endurance based physiological tests over many years. Clare is a keen sports person herself and has taken part in a number of 10k runs and several triathlon/duathlons, but her passion is cycling.

Steve Atkins

Dr Steve Atkins

As an active road cyclist and mountain biker, Dr Steve Atkins has a long-time interest in how best to optimize performance. With over 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals, he has undertaken research into the determinants of performance, including use of advanced technologies to optimize data measurement in cycling. As an accredited sport and exercise scientist with the British Association for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Steve has worked with many elite and amateur athletes.

Laura Smith

Laura Smith

Laura is a Demonstrator / Research Assistant at the University of Salford and has worked at the University since 2008. She has experience of carrying out a variety of endurance based physiological tests over the years across varying levels of athletes. Laura enjoys a variety of sporting activities, including running and cycling (both road and mountain) and has completed a variety of events including 10k runs, 5k swims, half marathons and the Manchester 100 cycle ride.

Exercise Physiology testPrice
Lactate threshold£100
Maximal oxygen uptake£80
Running economy£80
Functional threshold power£80
Maximal aerobic power£80

Service availability

Service is offered on the first Wednesday and third Monday of each month, with the first appointment available at 4.00pm, last at 7.00pm. Additional dates may sometimes be offered.

Pre-test screening

Please note that all potential clients are required to complete a Physical Activity Readiness questionnaire prior to visiting the lab to ensure eligibility for completing any of the exercise tests. Some underlying conditions can mean that one is not eligible to perform certain tests. In some cases aletter will be required by a potential client’s GP to confirm their eligibility.


Please contact Steve Horton, at, who will ring you back to discuss making an appointment. Alternatively you can ring Steve on 0161 295 2699

Once you have made your appointment, you will need to go the University of Salford online shop where you can make the payment for the service.

View sample report

Please see an example of a report from the Exercise Physiology testing.

Exercise Physiology testing

Mary Seacole Building (MSG17)

School of Health Sciences

University of Salford

Frederick Road, Salford

M6 6PU


Tel: 0161 295 2699

The Exercise Physiology lab operates within the Mary Seacole building in room MSG17 which is on the ground floor. There are changing rooms and showering facilities in the building.

Arriving by car

From the A6 turn into Frederick Road and then take the first right into the University. Explain to the security guard that you are here to use the Exercise Physiology testing service, then park in the car park. There is a charge for parking on campus for which you will need to download the parking App(, or alternatively, there is a phone number posted on the parking notices (0161 860 0100) that you can call to make payment.

Arriving by train

Take the train to Salford Crescent station (shown on map above) then walk across to the Mary Seacole building.

Map of Mary Seacole Building, University of Salford