Neuromuscular Research Lab

Students working in a research laboratory

About the Lab

The Neuromuscular Research Lab is focused on the physiological- and performance-based aspects of neuromuscular function ranging from the characteristics of neuromuscular fatigue to adaptations and beneficial responses of strength training.

A particular area of this research application emphasizes occupational and aging populations with the intent to enhance understanding of impaired performances and improve and/or restore optimal functionality and longevity in populations undergoing negative stressors which impair the neuromuscular systems.

A key focus is to enhance our understanding of how adaptations induced with strength training may counteract a number of negative consequences to neuromuscular physiology and performance, and how key strength training factors, such as training modality, volume, intensity etc., may best be suited to overcoming these negative neuromuscular stressors.


The mission of the lab is to perform field-advancing research which, 1) improves the current understanding of the physiological mechanisms underlying neuromuscular-based functional impairment, and 2) improves current exercise/physical activity practices targeted at enhancing neuromuscualar performance and general health in both healthy and functionally vulnerable clinical populations. Our model of research utilizes a heavy student-centered focus in achieving the lab mission which effectively couples students with the valuable processes and outcomes of discovery.

The NRL uses cutting edge technology to investigate the impact of training, aging, fatigue, occupational work characteristics, nutrition, and disease on physiological changes. We are particularly interested in understanding the key neuromuscular physiological factors that are most important for determining optimal functional performance and discovering or developing the most effective training models that induce positive neuromuscular adaptations which are capable of translating well to functional performance.


The Neuromuscular Research Lab (NRL) was founded by Dr. Brennan Thompson in September of 2015.The initial lab space was shared with USU's Exercise Physiology lab in the HPER building.In May of 2018, the lab moved to the new Sorenson Legacy Foundation Center for Clinical Excellence building. In the Sorenson building, the NRL resides in the Dennis G. Dolny Movement Research Clinic, where it is conveniently situated adjacent to an aquatic pool and motion analysis lab.

Research Opportunities


Current Projects

Comparative effects of eccentric-driven exercise on measures of muscle function when combined with aquatic plyometric exercise

This 7-week training study combines lower body machine-based eccentric strength training with aquatic plyometric training to determine whether there are enhanced improvements in muscle function and performance when adding aquatic-based plyometric training to a minimal dose eccentric training protocol. It also examines whether the aquatic environment may reduce soreness effects from the eccentric training protocol.

Labs and Facilities

Lab Facility

The Neuromuscular Research Lab (NRL) is housed in the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Center for Clinical Excellence building, which is a 100,000 square foot interdisciplinary human services center that integrates a broad range of clinics and services for the purpose of clinical training for students and enabling collaborative research through engaging faculty across disciplines.

Student trainees working in the NRL will gain experience in the following areas:

  • Human performance/neuromuscular function assessments
  • Adaptive characteristics of neuromuscular-based physiology, function, and training models
  • Research design and implementation
  • Data analysis and statistics
The USU NRL possesses the facilities, techniques, equipment and proficiency required to conduct high level, experimentally-based research studies. Our research lab possesses the following equipment, assessment, and training capabilities:

Neuromuscular and Performance Assessments

Biodex System 3 Dynamometer

Lab assistant with patient

Provides controlled measurements of muscle-derived torque, velocity and power production as well as range of motion and muscle stiffness for multiple muscle groups.


lab worker with patient using lab equipment

This machine uses a motor to elicit eccentric directed muscle actions of the lower limbs. It measures multiple-joint eccentric strength across a range of velocities.


Graph and system

Our wireless electromyography system (Delsys Trigno) measures muscle activation patterns within or across muscles during various types of movements and exercises.


Analyzing power velocity

We can assess power and movement velocity during a variety of movement tasks using our Tendo Power Analyzer (linear transducer) and jump mat.

Muscle-Tendon-Adipose Dimensions

research lab equipment

Our portable B-mode ultrasound (GE NextGen LOGIQ) unit provides reliable scientific measurements of muscle and tendon size, quality, and architecture. It can also provide measures of adipose tissue used to determine body composition.

Exercise Training

student on machine in a lab

The Biodex and Eccentron dynamometers are used to examine the effects of training interventions using controlled isokinetic concentric or eccentric conditions. The flywheel device is also used as a training tool to examine neuromuscular adaptations to an isoinertial type of training load. We also have access to, and occasionally use cycle ergometers, treadmills and a full range of free weight and weight machines equipment for training interventions.

Physical Activity Assessment


Polar heart rate (H7) and activity monitors (V800) measure short or long-term heart rate and physical activity over the course of hours or weeks. Our Actigraph (wGT3X-BT) activity monitors use a 3-axis accelerometer to record high resolution physical activity and sleep measures over a days and weeks.

KBox4 Pro Flywheel


The flywheel uses inertia (rather than gravity) to create resistance at near maximal levels over the full range motion. We typically use the flywheel as a resistance training device to elicit neuromuscular adaptations. It can accommodate a variety of upper and lower body movements. The flywheel can also be used to measure muscular power.


Please contact one of the lab faculty if you are interested in research opportunities within the Neuromuscular Research Lab, either as a study participant or as a research assistant.

Brennan Thompson

Brennan Thompson

Associate Professor

Kinesiology and Health Science

Phone: 435-797-5785
Office Location: SCCE 491