Dr John Babraj


School School of Social and Health Sciences

Department Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Contact info

+44 (0)1382 30 8165


I am a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology. My research interests focus on health and performance adaptations to high intensity training or omega 3 intake. This research on high intensity training focusses on determining the minimum frequency of exercise required to promote meaningful adaptations in the body for health and performance. My research on omega 3 intake focusses on its use to promote recovery from exercise and its importance in the regulation of tendon and ligament function. I also have a keen interest in physiological adaptations for combat sports.

I am chief scientific adviser to Edinburgh Biotec Ltd and work with Dundee FC, Dundee United FC, Dundee Stars and Wakeboarding to provide scientific support around training and nutrition. I also work within combat sports on an individual basis to provide training and nutrition support.

Before joining Abertay in 2010, I was a Lecturer in Exercise Metabolism at Heriot Watt University. I carried out my doctoral research at Dundee University. This work focused on the response of the extracellular matrix proteins within skeletal muscle, tendon, ligament and bone to both exercise and nutritional stimuli.

I am module tutor for the following modules:

3rd year - Physiological adaptations for performance

4th year - Advanced exercise physiology

My major area of research is in the development of novel paradigms to promote cardio-metabolic health and improve sports performance.  This focuses on 3 different paradigms - high intensity training, whole body vibration and omega 3 supplementation.

High Intensity Training

High intensity training involves supramaximal bouts of exercise that last for no more than 30 seconds. This makes it an exceptionally time efficient training paradigm with sessions lasting no more than 15 minutes (of which only 1-3 minutes is exercise). My research in this area focuses on both the health and performance improvements that can be gained by using this type of training and working towards discovering what the minimum amount of exercise that is needed to promote health improvements. Most people fail to meet government advice on physical activity levels and as such we are seeing a rapid increase in lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. My research also explores the underlying mechanisms by which high intensity training elicites these health and performance effects.  

Whole Body Vibration

Whole body vibration training is a novel resistance like training paradigm which efficiently recruits muscle fibres whilst the person is standing on the vibration plate. As such the physical demands placed on the body are greatly reduced with type of training. My research in this area focuses on whether whole body vibration can deliver similar health benefits as more traditional exercise paradigms. With the lower perception of effort this type of training can have a major effect on how people age and offers a training paradigm that could be used with frail adults.

Omega 3 for performance and health

Westernised diets are extremely low in omega 3 fatty acids and high in omega 6 fatty acids which has health consequences due to the pro-inflammatory effects of omega 6 fatty acids. Supplementation with omega 3 results in increased incorporation of these fats into cellular membranes that results in improved cellular function. Unaccustomed exercise produces muscle damage due to inflammation during the recovery process. My research focuses on the role of high EPA on improvements in health and exercise recovery.

Selected publications

Effect of an acute dose of omega-3 fish oil following exercise-induced muscle damage.
Jakeman JR, Lambrick DM, Wooley B, Babraj JA, Faulkner JA.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Mar;117(3):575-582.

Effects of reduced-volume of sprint interval training and the time course of physiological and performance adaptations.
Yamagishi T, Babraj J.
Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017 Jan 26. doi: 10.1111/sms.12831. 

Extremely short-duration high-intensity training substantially improves the physical function and self-reported health status of elderly adults.

Adamson SB, Lorimer R, Cobley JN, Babraj JA.

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Jul;62(7):1380-1.

High intensity training improves health and physical function in middle aged adults.

Adamson S, Lorimer R, Cobley JN, Lloyd R, Babraj J.

Biology (Basel). 2014 May 12;3(2):333-44.

Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes.

Jakeman J, Adamson S, Babraj J.

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Oct;37(5):976-81. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training.

Metcalfe RS, Babraj JA, Fawkner SG, Vollaard NB.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jul;112(7):2767-75. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Exploring the possibility of early cataract diagnostics based on tryptophan fluorescence.

Gakamsky DM, Dhillon B, Babraj J, Shelton M, Smith SD.

J R Soc Interface. 2011 Nov 7;8(64):1616-21. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Integration of microRNA changes in vivo identifies novel molecular features of muscle insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.

Gallagher IJ, Scheele C, Keller P, Nielsen AR, Remenyi J, Fischer CP, Roder K, Babraj J, Wahlestedt C, Hutvagner G, Pedersen BK, Timmons JA.

Genome Med. 2010 Feb 1;2(2):9.

Blunting of AICAR-induced human skeletal muscle glucose uptake in type 2 diabetes is dependent on age rather than diabetic status.

Babraj JA, Mustard K, Sutherland C, Towler MC, Chen S, Smith K, Green K, Leese G, Hardie DG, Rennie MJ, Cuthbertson DJ.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 May;296(5):E1042-8. Epub 2009 Feb 3.

Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.

Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, Timmons JA.

BMC Endocr Disord. 2009 Jan 28;9:3.

More Information


 Scientific Advisor to Edinburgh Biomedical Ltd

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