Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

School staff

Jonathan Folland

Dr Jonathan Folland

Reader in Human Performance and Neuromuscular Physiology

Tel +44 (0)1509 226334

Location NCSEM 1.47


Jonathan graduated in Sport & Exercise Science at Loughborough University in 1994, before working as a researcher in Clinical Biomechanics. He then studied for a PhD in Neuromuscular Function and Physiology at the University of Birmingham followed by lectureships in Exercise Physiology at the University of Brighton and Massey University (New Zealand), before returning to Loughborough in March 2004.

Jonathan ‘s work (teaching, research and consultancy) is in Exercise Physiology and Human Performance, but his primary research specialism is Neuromuscular Function and Physiology and the applications of this field to athletic performance, sports injury and human health (ageing and neuromuscular disease). Jonathan teaches Structural Kinesiology (musculoskeletal anatomy and function) and Neuromuscular Function and Physiology within a variety of modules. 

He is an Associate Editor for Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and on the Advisory board for the Journal of Sports Sciences. He is interested in a range of sports, but particularly canoeing and kayaking having competed and coached at international level.


Jonathan's research is in human performance with a particular specialism in neuromuscular function (strength and power) and the physiology and mechanics that explain function. As neuromuscular function is fundamental to human movement this research has application to a wide range of sport, exercise and health contexts, including sports performance, sports injury, as well as the elderly and patient groups.

Researching the characteristics of these groups enhances our understanding of sports performance and the functional limitations of ageing/disease. Investigating the response to exercise and the adaptations to training informs our understanding of how neuromuscular function is modulated and how it can be optimised for sport and health.

Previous work has focused on the interactions of muscle function with fundamental science (genetics), however more recent work has concentrated on explosive muscle performance and risk factors for injury.

Jonathan is a member of the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, and other work has been funded by sports organisations or industry.

Current Research

  • Neuromuscular contributions to maximal muscle performance and the response to training.
  • Muscle-tendon unit morphology and architecture in relation to strength and responses to strength training
  • Cortical and spinal influences on muscle contraction and explosive performance.
  • Hamstrings and quadriceps muscle function: implications for performance and injury.
  • Elite endurance athlete training and performance.

PhD completions:

  • Ricci Hannah (May 2012) Knee joint neuromuscular performance of males versus females: implications for dynamic joint stabilisation.
  • Neale Tillin (May 2011) The influence of training and athletic performance on the neural and mechanical determinants of muscular rate of force development.
  • Vernon Neville (February 2009) Physiological demands of America’s Cup sailing.
  • Tracey Mc Cauley (May 2009) Genetic influences upon neuromuscular function in young and older males.

Featured publications

  • Erskine RM, Fletcher G, Hanson B, Folland JP. (2012). Whey Protein does not Enhance the Adaptations to Elbow Flexor Resistance Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44(9): 1791-1800.
  • Hannah R, Minshull C, Buckthorpe M and Folland JP. (2012) Explosive neuromuscular performance of males versus females. Exp Physiol, 97(5): 618-29.
  • Tillin NA, Pain MTG and Folland J.P. (2012). Contraction type influences the human ability to utilise the available torque capacity of skeletal muscle during explosive efforts. Proc Roy Soc B Biol Sci 279(1736): 2106-15.
  • Tillin NA, Jimenez-Reyes P, Pain M and Folland JP. (2010). Neuromuscular performance of explosive power athletes vs. untrained individuals. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 42(4): 781-790.
  • Williams AG and Folland JP. (2008). Similarity of polygenic profiles limits the potential for elite human physical performance. J Physiol 586(1): 113-121.
  • Folland JP and Williams AG. (2007). The adaptations to strength training: morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength. Sports Med, 37(2):145-68.

 You can view a fuller publications list on the University Publications Database.