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Cardiff Met exercise physiologist helps para-cyclist reach World record

News | 1 August 2023

​​An academic from Cardiff Metropolitan University provided physiological exercise testing support to para-cyclist James Coxon in the run up to him setting a new World record for a 100km time trial on a recumbent bike.

James Coxon, who has an autoimmune disease that has led to partial paralysis of his left arm, contacted experts at the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Science back in March for exercise testing and sport science assistance that would allow his coach to develop a suitable training programme before his world record attempt.

Dr Paul M. Smith, Principal Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology supervised James throughout the exercise test, which involved completing a standard, incremental exercise test to exhaustion. During the test, James completed successive, five-minute exercise stages. At the end of each stage, Paul collected a small volume of capillary blood from James’ earlobe for the purpose of measuring concentrations of blood lactate. With power production and heart rate recorded, Paul established distinct metabolic thresholds, which allowed James and his coach to incorporate into a performance-enhancing programme.


James went on to set the new World Ultra Cycling Association record time trial for 100km at Newport Velodrome last month using an unfaired, recumbent bike, which places the rider in a reclined position. The time trial, consisting of 400 gruelling laps of the hot and humid velodrome, was completed in just over two hours.

James said: “The information Paul provided was invaluable in helping my coach and me devise effective training loads. It was down to Paul’s experience that we established I had a unique lactate production profile, and we used this information to establish levels to train at that would not exhaust me but would still lead to a massive performance improvement.”

Paul said: “As anyone proceeds through an informed training programme, they will experience gains in fitness and function, so an individual will need to complete regular assessments to ensure training prescription remains accurate. To effectively prescribe training and to monitor adaptations that occur because of training, exercise testing and the collection of objective physiological and metabolic data is essential.

Regardless of who you are providing a service to, it would be a waste of time if prescription did not consider an individual’s fitness status, while understanding their medium to long-term goals. The principles of exercise testing and training prescription are similar regardless of who you have in the laboratory, from a clinical patient to a highly trained athlete.”

To learn more about physiological exercise testing services, based on the Cyncoed campus at Cardiff Metropolitan University, please contact Dr Michael G. Hughes (MGHughes@cardiffmet.ac.uk).​