HHP Lab and Equipment

The Human Performance Laboratory provides you with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by exploring how the human body responds to physical activity and exercise. In the lab, you will gain a deep understanding of the regulation and adaptation of the physiological, biomechanical, and psychological limitations to health and wellness, human performance, and exercise tolerance.

Lab equipment available to students

The Human Performance Laboratory includes practical work with:

Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and lactate profile tests

The body’s ability to use oxygen at the cellular level is a key component of endurance-based fitness. VO2 max testing is the most accurate way to set training intensities and track changes in aerobic fitness. You will explore and conduct VO2max tests using research-grade equipment in our lab. You can conduct this test either on a treadmill, bike, or rowing ergometer. Field-based methods for determining VO2max are also available to our students.

Additionally, lactate threshold, which indicates when metabolic byproducts begin to accumulate in the blood, is part of our testing protocols. With the lactate profile test, you will learn how the body extracts energy from different pathways and produces different by-products. Both VO2max and lactate profile testing will help you understand the physiological changes that occur from aerobic to anaerobic work.


B-mode ultrasound allows you to directly visualize the muscle and tendon while moving or generating force. These images allow you to see beneath the skin and adipose tissue to explore concepts such as muscle and tendon thickness, muscle architecture, and muscle injury. You will have the opportunity to see and use the ultrasound in class settings and for student-designed research.

Body composition assessment

Body composition is a critical factor in health and an important factor in many sports. Given the obesity epidemic, it is imperative that you understand the concepts of body composition. You will use several methods for assessing body composition, including what many consider the gold standard — hydrostatic weighing. Other methods of assessment include skinfold, bioelectrical impedance, and circumference/girth measures.

Hydrostatic weighing tank

Hydrostatic weighing (hydrodensitometry) is based on Archimedes’ principle, and is considered the gold standard for measuring body density and estimating body fat levels. The Human Performance Lab includes a hydrostatic weighing tank, and you will have the benefit of using hydrodensitometry to calculate body composition. In addition to hydrodensitometry, other methods of body composition assessment include (but are not limited to) skinfold calipers, bioelectrical impedance, and various equation methods. Through a comparison of the various types of body density measurements, you will gain an understanding of the limitations and usefulness of various body fat calculation methods.

Clinical muscular strength assessment

Muscle function, strength, and endurance are vital aspects of daily activities and exercise performance. You will explore muscle function using a clinical-based strength-testing machine called an isokinetic dynamometer. The isokinetic dynamometer explores the force-length and force-velocity relationships in addition to maximal strength and endurance capacities. Other fixed-resistance equipment and Olympic-style free weights are used to assess muscular performance and provide a deeper understanding of the neuromuscular system.

Posture and functional movement

Posture has a profound impact on human movement and function. In the lab, you will conduct both postural assessments and functional movement screening to explore the relationship among posture, muscle function, and movement limitations.

Cardio room

The Cardiovascular Training Room includes treadmills, ellipticals, steppers, and bikes which HHP students use to study the foundational concepts of human performance. This equipment is also available for individual training and exercise.

The weight room in Royal Brougham Pavilion

Weight Room

In the Weight Room, you will learn how to safely and effectively teach resistance training techniques and program design. Unique to the Exercise Science program at SPU is a curriculum that incorporates explosive training programs, including plyometrics and Olympic weightlifting. These courses provide practical experiences that support careers as an athletic trainer or performance coach. You will become proficient in weight training and lifting technique.

Active learning classroom

Unlike traditional classrooms where a professor stands in front of students seated in rows of desks, the Health and Human Performance program’s active learning classroom features five “pods” of moveable tables that seat up to six students. This classroom includes several large whiteboards, an instructor podium and screen, and computer-accessible video flat screens near each table pod. In this classroom, you will learn in community and take a more active role in your education. This classroom also opens to the lab, and, when necessary, classes use both spaces simultaneously.

Hydrostatic weighing

Hydrostatic Weighing

As an Exercise Science major, you’ll take a dip in the hydrostatic weighing pool to see the “gold standard” of body-fat testing in action.