Fundamentals of Exercise Physiology
Fundamentals of Exercise Physiology

Fundamentals of Exercise Physiology

Lead Author(s): Robert Robergs

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An introductory to advanced undergraduate level textbook on exercise physiology.


​Welcome to what has been my passion and creative outlet for the last ten years.  This electronic leaning tool began with my gradual “mastery” of software programming using LabVIEW - a data flow programming environment first developed in the 1970's by National Instruments (Austin, Texas, USA).  I have typically used this programming environment for data acquisition programming and post acquisition data processing and analysis since 2003.  However, given my need to re-write my two textbooks of exercise physiology (graduate and undergraduate), it did not require too much thought before the option of writing a book using LabVIEW became a realization.

I wanted to start with re-writing my undergraduate textbook, as this was the easiest challenge and allowed me to focus more on programming than the advanced research and scientific writing necessary for a current graduate/advanced level version. However, over the last 5 years, the LabVIEW platform proved to be too limiting to commercial publication, both traditional and on-line. Thus, I had to search for another publisher that provided a “think outside the box” approach to publishing that matched my “think outside the box” view of science, research, scholarship, and educational authorship. Thanks to an ex-post-graduate student of mine, Angela Hillman, I found that publisher in Top Hat (

The process of developing and writing a textbook without a traditional publisher and editor has been refreshing to say the least.  No longer did I have to do what the competition has done, for no other reason!  I did not have to limit figures or photographs to an average 10 per chapter.  I did not have to succumb to constraints to creativity and originality simply because the competitors have not done it that way!  More importantly, I could escape the narrow bounds of traditional textbook and electronic support material to develop a uniquely interactive and dynamic learning experience in exercise physiology.  This meant that I could also do some more things.  I could re-use figures and repeat bolded words to support the time proven educational concept of repetition!  I could use digital video.  I could support text content and explanation with interactive learning programs.  I could support important text and figure content with audio; a bit like having a Dr. Robergs personal lecturer wrapped into the pages of a text.  Despite losing most of my US accent in these last 8 years, I still have a residual U.S. accent to the ear resulting in many Australians living in Australia still thinking I am a “yank”!

It is important to explain a little about the writing style I have chosen to adopt for this book.  I wanted to write in a manner that communicates more on a personal level than of pure science.  I wanted to communicate knowledge without the impartial and bold indifference of the scientific third person tense.  I have written each sentence as if I was talking to one of my students, where my humor and sometimes sarcasm is mixed with empirical based observation truth.  I wrote this book with the hope that students will want to read the text for all that they gain from the reading: facts, real life explanations, humor, life lessons, and the shared power of a sincere interest in exercise physiology.

The structure of the text is also quite unique and explained by my initial development of the content into an interactive software platform. Given that Top Hat is also an innovative, digital interactive environment, the same structure also works here. Instead of the traditional book chapter, the text is organized into what appear to be chapters, but within which are separate files that I refer to as Topics. These Topics are equivalent to key sub-heading sections of a traditional chapter, and provide the student with a 2-5 page focused presentation of pertinent material to that topic. For example, for the second chapter on Neuromuscular Physiology, there are Topics on The Action Potential, The Synapse, The Motor Unit, Fiber Types, Motor Unit Recruitment, etc.

There is also a unique order of content delivery.  As a past author of 4 other exercise physiology textbooks, content order has always been a concern of mine. The obvious dilemma is where to place content on metabolic biochemistry. I have resolved this concern by thinking functionally. It makes sense to reeducate students about why muscle is exposed to metabolic demand. To do this, you need to present content on neuromuscular physiology very early in a text. Thus, I have this content in the second chapter, following the introductory chapter on some historical context. Once the students understand that muscle contraction provides a huge demand for increased ATP turnover, it then makes sense to prepare them for understanding how muscle, and most other cells do that. Hence, chapters follow on Bioenergetics, Enzymes, Metabolic Design, Neuro-endocrine Physiology, chapters on the three energy systems, then Lactate Production, Metabolic Acidosis, and Anabolism.

After this content, the student is now ready to apply this learning of the fundamentals to more applied exercise physiology knowledge and skills. Chapters on Ergometry, Calorimetry and Maximal Oxygen Consumption are then provided. The student is then able to learn more effectively about Cardiovascular Responses to Exercise, Pulmonary Responses To Exercise, Metabolic Thresholds, VO2 Kinetics, Metabolic Responses to Steady State Exercise, etc.

I hope you enjoy the learning experience this electronic textbook provides.