School of Sport & Exercise Sciences

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Professor Samuele Marcora

Director of Research


Professor Sam Marcora joined the SSES in late 2010 as Director of Research.


Professor Samuele Marcora received his Bachelor in Physical Education from the State University of Milan (Italy). He then studied for an MSc in Human Performance at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (USA), and for a PhD in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Wales-Bangor (UK). After a successful academic career at Bangor University, Professor Marcora began his post as Director of Research at the University of Kent at the end of 2010. His role is to stimulate, coordinate, monitor and assess all research activity within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

In 2006, Professor Marcora changed his research direction and decided to integrate exercise physiology with motivation psychology and cognitive neuroscience. This psychobiological approach has generated several innovative studies including the effects of mental fatigue on endurance performance and brain training for endurance athletes (Brain Endurance Training). Professor Marcora had been research consultant for MAPEI Sport Service in Italy where he contributed to highly cited research on football and mountain biking physiology.

In his spare time, Professor Marcora enjoys riding his two motorbikes. In 2013, he completed a gruelling 3-month ride from London to Beijing through Central Asia and Tibet to investigate fatigue in motorbike riders.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    de Morree, Helma M. and Klein, Christoph and Marcora, Samuele Maria (2012) Perception of effort reflects central motor command during movement execution. Psychophysiology, 49 (9). pp. 1242-1253. ISSN 0048-5772.


    It is thought that perception of effort during physical tasks is the conscious awareness of the central motor command sent to the active muscles. The aim of this study was to directly test this hypothesis by experimentally varying perception of effort and measuring movement-related cortical potential (MRCP). Sixteen healthy, recreationally active men made unilateral dynamic elbow flexions to lift a light (20% one repetition maximum, 1RM) and a heavier (35% 1RM) weight with a fatigued arm and a nonfatigued arm while rating of perceived effort (RPE), biceps brachii electromyogram (EMG), and MRCP were recorded. RPE, EMG amplitude, and MRCP amplitude at Cz during weight raising increased with weight and with muscle fatigue. There was a significant correlation between RPE and MRCP amplitude at the vertex during the weight raising epoch. This study provides direct neurophysiological evidence that perception of effort correlates with central motor command during movement execution.

    de Morree, Helma M. and Marcora, Samuele Maria (2010) The face of effort: frowning muscle activity reflects effort during a physical task. Biological Psychology, 85 (3). pp. 377-382. ISSN 0301-0511.


    It is a common observation that exertion of effort is associated with a specific facial expression. However, this facial expression has never been quantified during physical tasks and its relationship with effort is unknown. The aims of the present study were to measure frowning muscle activity during a physical task with electromyography (EMG) and to investigate the relationship between facial EMG and effort. Effort was experimentally manipulated by increasing task difficulty and inducing muscle weakness. Twenty men performed leg extensions with four relative workloads. The fatigue group (n=10) repeated the leg extensions after fatiguing eccentric exercise, and the control group repeated just the leg extensions. Facial EMG amplitude, ratings of perceived effort (RPE), and leg EMG amplitude increased significantly with increasing task difficulty and with muscle fatigue. Facial EMG, RPE, and leg EMG all correlated significantly. The results suggest that frowning muscle activity reflects effort during physical tasks.

    Sartor, Francesco and de Morree, Helma M. and Matschke, Verena et al. (2010) High-intensity exercise and carbohydrate-reduced energy-restricted diet in obese individuals. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 110 (5). pp. 893-903. ISSN 1439-6319.


    Continuous high glycemic load and inactivity challenge glucose homeostasis and fat oxidation. Hyperglycemia and high intramuscular glucose levels mediate insulin resistance, a precursor state of type 2 diabetes. The aim was to investigate whether a carbohydrate (CHO)-reduced diet combined with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) enhances the beneficial effects of the diet alone on insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation in obese individuals. Nineteen obese subjects underwent 14 days of CHO-reduced and energy-restricted diet. Ten of them combined the diet with HIIT (4 min bouts at 90% VO(2peak) up to 10 times, 3 times a week). Oral glucose insulin sensitivity (OGIS) increased significantly in both groups; [diet-exercise (DE) group: pre 377 ± 70, post 396 ± 68 mL min(-1) m(-2); diet (D) group: pre 365 ± 91, post 404 ± 87 mL min(-1) m(-2); P < 0.001]. Fasting respiratory exchange ratio (RER) decreased significantly in both groups (DE group: pre 0.91 ± 0.06, post 0.88 ± 0.06; D group: pre 0.92 ± 0.07, post 0.86 ± 0.07; P = 0.002). VO(2peak) increased significantly in the DE group (pre 27 ± 5, post 32 ± 6 mL kg(-1) min(-1); P < 0.001), but not in the D group (pre 26 ± 9, post 26 ± 8 mL kg(-1) min(-1)). Lean mass and resistin were preserved only in the DE group (P < 0.05). Fourteen days of CHO-reduced diet improved OGIS and fat oxidation (RER) in obese subjects. The energy-balanced HIIT did not further enhance these parameters, but increased aerobic capacity (VO(2peak)) and preserved lean mass and resistin.

    Marcora, Samuele Maria and Staiano, Walter (2010) The parabolic power-velocity relationship does not apply to fatigued states. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 109 (4). pp. 787-788. ISSN 1439-6319.

    Marcora, Samuele Maria and Staiano, Walter (2010) The limit to exercise tolerance in humans: mind over muscle? European Journal of Applied Physiology, 109 (4). pp. 763-770. ISSN 1439-6319.


    In exercise physiology, it has been traditionally assumed that high-intensity aerobic exercise stops at the point commonly called exhaustion because fatigued subjects are no longer able to generate the power output required by the task despite their maximal voluntary effort. We tested the validity of this assumption by measuring maximal voluntary cycling power before (mean +/- SD, 1,075 +/- 214 W) and immediately after (731 +/- 206 W) (P < 0.001) exhaustive cycling exercise at 242 +/- 24 W (80% of peak aerobic power measured during a preliminary incremental exercise test) in ten fit male human subjects. Perceived exertion during exhaustive cycling exercise was strongly correlated (r = -0.82, P = 0.003) with time to exhaustion (10.5 +/- 2.1 min). These results challenge the long-standing assumption that muscle fatigue causes exhaustion during high-intensity aerobic exercise, and suggest that exercise tolerance in highly motivated subjects is ultimately limited by perception of effort.

Total publications in KAR: 13 [See all in KAR]

For more information about my publications, please visit my Google Scholar or Research Gate profiles

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My current research combines physiology and psychology in a truly interdisciplinary approach to investigate fatigue and endurance performance. The ultimate goal of my research programme is to find new ways to improve performance of endurance athletes, and reduce physical and mental fatigue in a variety of populations. These populations include soldiers, motorbike riders, and patients affected by diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic kidney disease.

My previous research includes research into the mechanisms, assessment and treatment of muscle wasting, and applied sports science research (e.g., football training and mountain biking).

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Last Updated: 28/01/2015