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Mellissa Harden

Post-graduate Researcher,melissa harden

Strength & Conditioning Coach (English Institute of Sport)

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

Mellissa completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Bath in Sport & Exercise Science, which included a Strength & Conditioning internship at the South Australian Sports Institute. Following this, she continued to pursue Strength & Conditioning with Rugby, Swimming and Trampoline athletes before gaining a Strength & Conditioning role with the English Institute of Sport. In 2015 Mellissa began a full-time PhD with Northumbria University and the English Institute of Sport to investigate morphological and neuromuscular adaptations to eccentric resistance exercise.

Alongside the PhD research, Mellissa continues to work for the EIS as a Strength and Conditioning coach for Women’s England Rugby athletes.






  • BSc, Sport and Exercise Science

Overview of Doctoral Research

Maximising morphological and neuromuscular adaptations to eccentric resistance exercise through effective training programme design

When optimally loaded, eccentric muscle actions evoke considerably higher levels of muscle fibre tension compared to concentric or isometric contractions. Performing resistance exercise using eccentric muscle actions can therefore elicit prominent adaptations in muscle morphology, architecture and neuromuscular function. Hence eccentric resistance training is considered an important component of a strength-power athletes training programme - especially when muscle mass and maximal strength are key determinants of performance success. It is for this reason that eccentric loading regimes are being investigated by the English Institute of Sport & British Cycling practitioners. To facilitate this research the English Institute of Sport & British Cycling supported the manufacture of a bespoke eccentric leg press with the view that this research will inform their strength and conditioning practice, and specifically address the role of eccentric resistance exercise within in their athletes training programmes. The research process will explore the acclimation process, exercise prescription standards and strength assessment methods associated with eccentric resistance training. Morphological, architectural & functional outcomes associated with eccentric resistance exercise will be assessed, and investigations into whether adaptations derived from eccentric resistance training are transferable to concentric/athletic performance when incorporated as part of a structured resistance training programme.



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