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Exercise Physiology: Understanding the Athlete Within

University of Melbourne via Coursera


This course examines the physiological responses to acute and chronic exercise, with a focus on skeletal muscle, energy metabolism, the oxygen transport system and temperature and fluid balance.  The factors that limit exercise performance will be reviewed and the role of genes in determining athletic performance will be considered.  At the end of this course, you should have a better understanding of the athlete within!


Week One: Review of excitation-contraction coupling in skeletal muscle, muscle fibre types, energetics and muscle adaptations to exercise training.

Week Two: The key fuels by contracting skeletal muscle during high intensity sprint exercise through to prolonged endurance exercise.

Week Three: Cardiovascular and respiratory responses to exercise that ensure adequate oxygen delivery to contracting skeletal muscle and the determinants of maximal oxygen uptake.

Week Four: Temperature and fluid balance during exercise.

Week Five: Mechanisms of fatigue during exercise and interactions between the central nervous system and peripheral factors. Factors influencing sprint and endurance performance.

Week Six: How do genes influence athletic performance - are athletes "born or made?"

Taught by

Professor Mark Hargreaves

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4.5 rating, based on 4 reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent, rigorous class taught from an evidence-based scientific perspective. Prior knowledge of physiology and biochemistry is very helpful, but (maybe??) not essential. The class does have some biases in the material -- mostly due to time limitations. Endurance / cardiovascular exercise gets more attention than strength training. Elite athletes, particularly cyclists, get more attention than ordinary athletes like me. One interesting -- and still little understood -- topic Prof Hargreaves discusses are the causes of fatigue. Does fatigue a product solely of muscles or is the brain somehow involved? Thanks to this course, exercise means much more to me now.
  • Francisco Javier Jiménez

    Francisco Javier Jiménez completed this course.

  • Jonathan Golland completed this course.

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    Richard Hengst

    Richard Hengst completed this course.

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