Ultrasound scanner for research

by [email protected] in Stirling

Ultrasound scanner for research
We did it
On 10th August 2016 we successfully raised £5,100 with 46 supporters in 42 days

Help us answer which exercise is best for improving performance and building great glutes by contributing to fund an ultrasound scanner.

by [email protected] in Stirling

About our project

Have you ever wondered which exercise is best for improving athletic performance our building great glutes? Are you curious to find out if squats, deadlifts or hip thrusts transfer more or less favorably to key athletic performance measures? Have you ever questioned whether deadlifts, hip thrusts or squats are best for growing glutes? If so, then please donate some money to help us find out. We're trying to get to the bottom of these questions by performing a huge, comprehensive, in-depth study on these 3 popular lower-body exercises, but we need some assistance. Bret Contreras has already agreed to pitch in $10,000 to help fund the research, but we need more. Read on to find out more about our joint project.

My name is Bret Contreras and I have a passion for strength & conditioning research and practice. This passion extends to educating personal trainers, coaches and the general public on the science behind strength and conditioning practices. This educational outreach is realised primarily through my blog. The blog contains over 500+ free articles making it one of the largest free resources on evidence-based strength and conditioning practices available. Through the research involved in writing these articles I have identified a number of critical research questions. My goal now is to strategically fund ($10000 of my own money in this instance) non-biased research projects to address these questions. Pursuing this research will help to make a significant contribution to the strength and conditioning field and answer a number of critical questions which will better inform program prescription and ultimately contribute to my passion for improving the scientific basis of the strength and conditioning field. For this particular project I will be funding Lee Hamilton of the Health and Exercise Sciences Research Group. Read on to find out about how this crowdfund will help this research project and their lab.

The aim of our research group

Our aim is to carry out research, which will improve human health and performance across the life span and performance spectrum. Our research focuses on integrating nutrition and exercise to improve skeletal muscle and cardiovascular function. In order to continue performing world-class integrative physiology research we need to keep evolving and developing as a research group. Having local access to a high specification ultrasound scanner will give us the capacity to assess changes in skeletal muscle thickness and architecture in addition to assessing changes in blood flow and a range of cardiovascular parameters. Not only will this technology improve the quality of our research outputs, but it will also improve our competitiveness on grant applications allowing us to make a greater impact on improving human health and performance.

 About our research group

My name is Lee Hamilton.

I am a member of the Health and Exercise Sciences Research group.

Our research group is formed of a multidisciplinary team of researchers (geneticists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, biochemists, neuromuscular physiologists) with the common goal of understanding the genetic, molecular, physiological and nutritional determinants of human health and performance. By developing an in depth understanding of human adaptability to exercise, inactivity and nutrition we will be able to make better decisions about how to improve human health and performance.

About our project

The first project we will use the ultrasound scanner for is a training study funded by Bret Contreras. This study, for which we already have ethical approval, is designed to determine how 6 weeks of training with three different lower limb exercises alters sprint and agility performance. Because the 3 different exercises lead to different activation profiles of the muscles of the lower limb, this study will help us to isolate out how the strength improvements in those muscles carries over to performance enhancements. Adding the ultrasound assessments to this study will allow us to couple the differences in muscle activation profile across the three different exercises to changes in skeletal muscle growth and architecture allowing us to show which exercises are best for training which muscles. These data will allow us to better inform training prescriptions for athletes to improve their performance and or physique. Additionally, one of the exercises is substantially easier to learn and is considered safer to perform than the other two. This study will therefore be used as a proof of principle to transition this exercise (the hip thrust) into an older population to determine if it can be used to safely improve lower limb performance in older adults.


Additional projects which will be added to

We currently have a range of on going studies, which would directly benefit from this piece of equipment. For instance we will be starting a bench press training study in the New Year addressing the benefits of elastic assistance training. We just recently received funding to assess if fish oil supplementation can protect muscle mass and function during caloric restriction. There is an on going study on the impact of limb immobilisation on skeletal muscle function and metabolic health. Again, having local access to an ultrasound scanner would add to all the above studies and allow us to couple those architectural changes in muscle to changes in muscle function. Similarly, we are currently writing a grant to compare the changes in muscle mass and function following reduced physical activity in young vs old adults. The ultrasound scanner will allow us to accurately determine which muscles are more or less susceptible to reduced physical activity and if there are any differences between young and old adults. Access to the Ultrasound scanner would enhance our competitiveness on this grant.

Having an ultrasound scanner for our research group would therefore, not only enhance the impact of the study funded by Bret Contreras, but it will transfer across a range of studies designed to help us inform the most effective nutritional and exercise interventions to protect or improve skeletal muscle mass and function.

Why are we crowd funding

Together with Bret we have identified that an ultrasound scanner will add considerable impact to our research and grant applications. To that end we are attempting to raise £12,000 to purchase a re-conditioned ultrasound scanner. We currently have a quote for one that will suit our needs at £8000 with an additional £3000 required to purchase an additional probe head. Add to that the 6% charges for crowd funding and we’ll need £11660. Raising £12,000 will give us a buffer in case the scanner we have noted an interest in is sold potentially leaving us with a slightly more expensive option. If we manage to purchase a cheaper scanner the excess funds will be directed towards conference attendance for the postgraduate students that will be running the project.


The HESRG is a brilliantly innovative group.  Their ability to track changes from cell cultures all the way up to exercise training studies allows them to paint a complete picture of exercise science in action.  Remarkably intelligent yet balanced staff means that it’s not only a privilege but great fun to collaborate with them too!

Richard Chessor (RNutr & SENr). Lead Nutritionist for Scottish Rugby.

The Health and Exercise Sciences Research Group is, in my opinion, one of the premier research groups in the field of exercise science. The group is led by internationally recognised scientists who posses a range of research experience including, but not limited to; exercise physiology, performance nutrition, health & disease & ageing. The group has published a large number of high-quality peer reviewed research articles in respected scientific journals.

Jordan Donohue (BSc, MRes, ANutr) - Nutrition and Compliance Manager, Myprotein. 

As a Personal Training Education Provider, it’s of utmost importance that our course content is based upon the highest quality of scientific research possible. The research done by the HSERG at the University of Stirling has played a vital role in shaping our course content, providing valuable insight into many of the topics that are on our syllabus. Without the HSERG, our course content would not be nearly as rich or in-depth!

Lawrence Judd – Operations Manager, Shredded by Science.

The research from the HESRG is playing a massive role in promoting evidence based practice within the information dense, knowledge starved fitness industry.

Phil Graham – Sports Nutritionist (BSc, CISSN)/Coach/Educator/Fitness writer.

The HESRG is a well-rounded group of individuals who all bring rich and varied expertise. The group is clearly passionate about producing high quality research, and is providing much needed evidence-based research to the fitness industry, which is saturated with myth. It is an invaluable resource in my opinion.

Lucy Sewell – Coach/Educator/Fitness blogger.

For me what stands out about the HSERG research group is the effort the team makes to explain their research and findings to a larger audience. This is something many research groups neglect and in my opinion should always be a priority. There is no point doing research if no one is reading or acting upon it. This should not be limited to the other scientists in the field but should be shared more widely. Science communication is something the HSERG group is excellent at and I look forward to staying up to date with their research. 

Emma Storey-Gordon – Cardiovascular disease and Diabetes researcher/Fitness blogger.

 The HESRG is a group that are constantly being innovative and bridging the gap between science and application. As practitioners, this is something we commend and respect the hell out of. We’ve followed the HESRG’s and Bret’s peer reviewed work and have applied the practical applications in practice and it has made us better coaches, students, and has provided great results for clients.  

Chris and Eric Martinez - Dip.ISSN,CISSN, CISSN, CSCS, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class online training, nutrition, and lifestyle consulting business “Dynamic Duo Training.”

The HESRG team are helping to re-write the rules in the fitness industry. Their pioneering research is providing unique insights and key data which has the ability to considerably improve the performance, health and physiques of many.

Scott Baptie – Director of Food for Fitness 

Having access to the HESRG has been absolutely invaluable to my business as a Personal Trainer and it has undoubtedly enabled me to offer a better service to my clients.  As a coach I have to be evidence based and I want to provide the highest quality information to my clients; the HESRG has exposed me to the highest quality research but also helped me develop the skill of reading and understanding scientific research properly.  This is a skill I believe is so important, especially in the fitness industry which is packed with misinformation, and to date the HESRG has been the only place where I have been able to develop this skill.  The HESRG at Stirling Uni has had a positive impact on both my business and my personal development.

Pamela Sharpe – Personal Trainer

The health and exercise sciences research group have carried out some seriously influential research already and house some of the smartest folks in the industry. Without these folks carrying out the much needed research the fitness industry - including people like myself - would struggle to know how to practice within the realms of safety and effectiveness. They provide much needed answers to complex questions that we simply can't  be without.

Mike Sweeney - Registered Dietitian, Nutrition coach and Founder of Nutritionable.


Why should you back this project?

By backing this project you will be investing in a research group who’s focus is to improve human health and performance. The equipment purchased from this campaign will contribute to multiple projects and help us add to our understanding of human physiology and metabolism. Your support will directly contribute to important research. This research will have important implications for areas including but not limited to; program training design for athletes, nutritional interventions to preserve muscle mass and function, exercise interventions to improve cardiovascular function and many more.

Why don’t you use the DEXA scanner that you already have to assess changes in muscle mass?

The DEXA scanner is great for determining whole body changes in body composition. However, with the training study outlined above and a number of other projects it is vital that we look at the thickness and architectural changes of individual muscles. The ultrasound scanner will give us the capacity to address changes in specific muscles.

Why don’t you write the ultrasound scanner into a grant?

Grants have, on average, a turn around of anything from 6months to 1year. The success rates on small grant applications are also anywhere from 2-20%. We need the ultrasound scanner to capture muscle thickness data from our first wave of recruits by the end of August. Therefore, writing a grant for the ultrasound scanner is not a viable option for the hip thrust project.

Where are the rewards available?

The rewards such as the nutrition workshop and the anatomy lesson are only available locally to Stirling (UK, Scotland). The name or brand on the scanner reward is available from anywhere.

How will the anatomy lesson reward run?

The anatomy lesson can be a 1:1 tutorial or it can be a group tutorial. For instance a maximum of 5 individuals could club together and have a 1:5 tutorial. Travel expenses will not be covered.

What else will the ultrasound scanner be used for?

When the ultrasound scanner is not in use for research we will allow access for HCPC/NMC registered (physiotherapists or nurses) sonographers for musculoskeletal diagnostic procedures.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

~$13. Thank you for believing in my project.

£20 or more

£20 Reward

~$27. A thank you for believing in my project

£30 or more

£30 Reward

~$40. A thank you for believing in my project

£40 or more

£40 Reward

~$53. A thank you for believing in my project

£50 or more

£50 Reward

~$67. A thank you for believing in my project

£50 or more

£50 Reward

~$67. A named thank you message on our group Facebook page in addition to receiving updates on the research we publish.

£100 or more

£100 Reward

~$134. A named thank you message on our group Facebook page in addition to receiving updates on the research we publish.

£200 or more

£200 Reward

~$267. A named thank you message on our group Facebook page in addition to receiving updates on the research we publish.

£200 or more

0 of 20 claimed

£200 Reward

Ultrasound based anatomy lesson. This can be a group purchase with a maximum group number of 5.

£500 or more

£500 Reward

~$668. A named thank you message on our group Facebook page in addition to receiving updates on the research we publish.

£500 or more

0 of 5 claimed

£500 Reward

Local Group workshop on protein nutrition for health and performance. I will attend a group local to Stirling (Scotland, UK) and run a workshop on protein nutrition focused on aspects of the importance of protein in nutrition and strategies to increase protein intake in the diet.

£1,000 or more

2 of 15 claimed

£1,000 Reward

~$1336. Name or brand to appear on a plaque on the Ultrasound Scanner.

£1,000 or more

£1,000 Reward

~$1336. A named thank you message on our group Facebook page in addition to receiving updates on the research we publish.

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