Human Performance and Ergogenic Aids

Our research group strives to unravel and push the boundaries of human performance by utilizing methods to manipulate various physiological systems including, but not limited to, ergogenic substances, training strategies (e.g., intensified training modalities and blood flow restriction). We then advance our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning these responses via state-of-the-art proteomic analyses.

Max test

In addition, we work closely with anti-doping laboratories and regulatory bodies to scientifically validate, support, and enhance current anti-doping practices.


  • Substances that regulate muscle growth (Beta2-agonists and anabolic steroids)
  • Limits to human performance and fatigue mechanisms
  • Training strategies to optimize performance and health (e.g., interval training and blood flow restriction)
  • Mechanisms driving training adaptations
  • Anti-doping regulations and practices



  • University of Tasmania, Australia (Prof. Glenn Jacobsen, University of Tasmania)
  • Norwegian Doping Control Laboratory
  • Team Danmark
  • Atul Deshmukh (Assoc. Prof., Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen)
  • Vibeke Backer (Clin. Assoc. Prof., University of Copenhagen)


Research Projects


The aim of the study is to investigate the effect of clenbuterol and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy, subsequent muscle memory (i.e. greater hypertrophy during retraining compared to initial training) and underlying mechanisms.


The phenomenon of muscle memory is widely accepted. This suggests a benefit of resistance training earlier in life to combat age-related sarcopenia. Likewise, it has been suggested that this gives doping offenders in sports an unfair competitive advantage even after discontinuation of anabolic substances. Despite this, underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

Thus, Elucidating the effect of resistance training and clenbuterol on muscle memory and underlying mechanisms will provide a rational for combating age-related sarcopenia, as well as a provide insights into the use of an anabolic substance on muscle memory. The latter will be of use in the development of future regulations in anti-doping. 

About the Study

The aim of the study is to investigate the effect of clenbuterol and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy, subsequent muscle memory and underlying mechanisms. 

Participants will be randomized to daily ingestion of clenbuterol or placebo during an 8-week intervention, consisting of either resistance training 3 times a week or a control condition. Thereafter participants will undergo 16 weeks without resistance training and ingestion of clenbuterol/placebo, followed by another 8-week period with resistance training.

Before the intervention and after each period, participants will attend experimental trials, where body composition is assessed by DXA and muscle biopsies are sampled from m. vastus lateralis. The muscle biopsies will be analyzed for fiber type, size and myonuclei by immunohistochemistry.

Mass spectrometry-based proteomics will be used to identify persisting proteome changes. We expect that if myonuclei or certain proteins involved in muscle hypertrophy persist during atrophy, these may explain the phenomenon of muscle memory. 


We are currently recruiting participants for the study. Currently, four out of approximately 45 participants are recruited.




PhD fellow Lukas Moesgaard



The aim of the study is to investigate differences between sexes in resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy and underlying mechanisms.


It is well known that physiological differences exist between sexes. Despite this, little is known about differences between sexes in the underlying mechanisms of resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy.

Thus, elucidating this would further our understanding of differences in male and female muscle physiology, and how this impacts adaptations to exercise.

About the Study

The aim of the study is to investigate differences between sexes in resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy and underlying mechanisms. Twelve males and 12 females completed 8 weeks of resistance training 3 times a week.

Before and after the intervention participants attended experimental days, including sampling of blood and muscle biopsies, as well as measures of strength and body composition assessment via DXA. So far, results of the study have indicated greater hypertrophy of type I, but not type II, fibers in males than females.

It is expected that future analysis of the muscle biopsies will elucidate the underlying mechanisms of this observation.


The intervention is completed, and samples are currently being analyzed. It is expected that this will be finished by the end of 2023.


Team Danmark


Myonuclear addition is associated with sex-specific fiber hypertrophy and occurs in relation to fiber perimeter not cross-sectional area | Journal of Applied Physiology


PhD fellow Lukas Moesgaard



The effects of Blood-Flow Restriction Training (BFRT) on muscle function and muscular adaptations in trained individuals and in patients with COPD.

We investigate how the leg muscles adapt to 6 weeks of blood-flow restriction strength and sprint interval training. We run two studies, one including healthy trained individuals and one including individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).


COPD is not only affecting the lungs, it also induces loss of skeletal muscle function and mass. Specifically, the progressive decrease in muscle function characterizing COPD seems to be determined by muscle atrophy (increased protein-breakdown signalling), a shift in muscle fibre type (higher number of glycolytic type IIx fibres) and mitochondrial dysfunction. 

Exercise training may counteract these issues. However, high training loads are required, making the training uncomfortable when pulmonary impairment is present.

BFRT can be conducted using only a fraction of the training load, thereby inducing similar muscle function and mass gains. A first study on BFRT in COPD suggests that less dyspnoea is present during the exercise training when compared to traditional training. 

We will be able to compare our findings in people with COPD to the findings in healthy individuals and therefore gain insight into the mechanisms underlying BFRT.

About the Study 

This is a randomized controlled study with assessor blinding.

All participants will undergo 6 weeks of combined BFRT (leg strength training and sprint interval training on a bike ergometer).

We look at various tests, covering muscle function, muscle mass, muscle adaptations, and performance.


Danish Ministry of Culture


We are recruiting. Contact us if you are interested in participating.


Visiting researcher Dario Kohlbrenner



Mitochondria generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Dysregulated mitochondrial ROS production results in oxidative stress compromising mitochondrial structure and function. In animal models, mitochondrial oxidative stress leads to development of insulin resistance, a main feature of type II diabetes.

The aims of this project are to demonstrate the connection between mitochondrial oxidative stress and insulin resistance in humans and to explore the mitochondrial adaptations whereby exercise training ameliorates insulin sensitivity in patients with type II diabetes.

Recent evidence indicates that mitochondria-derived oxidative stress causes insulin resistance in cultured cells and animal models. However, it is unknown whether dysregulated mitochondrial ROS production plays a causal role in human insulin resistance. Chronic treatment with mitochondria-targeted antioxidant ameliorates lipid-induced insulin resistance in rodents, suggesting that mitochondria-targeted antioxidant supplementation may represent a viable strategy to manipulate mitochondrial ROS and possibly alter insulin sensitivity in humans.

Physical exercise is a well-established intervention to promote beneficial mitochondrial adaptations and improves insulin sensitivity. Notably, aerobic exercise training decreases mitochondrial ROS emission while increasing insulin sensitivity in insulin resistant individuals. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether the exercise training-induced reduction in mitochondrial ROS emission contributes to the improved insulin sensitivity.

The project consists of a two-phase human study assessing changes in insulin sensitivity in response to acute and chronic manipulation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial ROS. By using an innovative experimental approach integrating in vivo manipulation of mitochondrial ROS along with gold-standard measurements of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, we expect to provide the first evidence of a link between mitochondrial oxidative stress and insulin resistance in humans while identifying the mitochondrial adaptive mechanisms whereby exercise training possibly improves insulin-dependent glucose regulation in patients with type II diabetes. 

Funded by

Novo Nordisk Foundation

Project period: xx


Associate Professor Morten Hostrup

Professor Jens Bangsbo




Members of research group

Name Title Phone E-mail
Dario Kohlbrenner Guest Researcher +4535324543 E-mail
Lukas Moesgaard PhD Fellow   E-mail
Morten Hostrup Associate Professor - Promotion Programme +4535321595 E-mail
Søren Kaare Jessen Postdoc +4535326685 E-mail
Morten Hostrup

Head of research group

Morten Hostrup
Associate Professor

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