Science in the service of the athlete

La science au service
de l’athlète

Few people know this, but the College of Alma is equipped with world-class. Thanks to the Laboratory of analysis in sports physiology (LAPS), the smallest physical details of a top level athlete can be dissected and translated to the drive.

The PERIOD exists for six years. Linked to the science department of the College of Alma, it allows it to establish as much data as possible. A biology teacher, Gilles Nédélec is the master of all machinery, totaling approximately $ 75,000 in equipment. A unit of metabolic measure the consumption of oxygen and production of carbon dioxide (CO2) by human-to-human effort, then ergometers are calibrated to measure the power dissipated, in watts.

Concretely, it is a drive roll perfectly adjusted by Gilles Nédélec, while being connected to computers that record the data. For the different tests, it installs a bike, and the “guinea pig” wearing a mask to measure the oxygen consumed and the CO2 released.

“The goal is to serve as a basis for prescribing workouts to increase the performance “, summed up perfectly M. Nédélec. It works in close collaboration with his colleague at the Collège d’alma Jude Dufour, the head coach of the club Cyclone d’alma, and coach of the olympian Léandre Bouchard athlete in mountain bike.

It is the result of discussions between gentlemen Nédélec and Dufour that the two men have seen fit to take steps to offer to the College Alma equipment that meets the physiological needs are specific. A budget was then made available to the science department to make the project a reality.

La science au service
de l’athlète

Test of physiology cegep Alma

“We decided to develop an expertise that meets the needs of our high-level athletes,” says Gilles Nédélec.

The Collège d’alma is the only college in Quebec to count on equipment that is also sharp. The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières offers similar services. To Alma, the athletes emerging or established, who practice a sport, cardio at a high level (road bike or mountain bike, mainly) benefit from the PERIOD.

History of target clientele, but also to do no harm to private firms that offer tests to assess physiological, less precise, but similar, Gilles Nédélec works by ” resume sport “, that is to say that an athlete who enters the PERIOD must have specific performance objectives.

“It is necessary to know what will serve as the digit registered, said Mr. Nédélec, with reference to the famous prescription of the training. It offers a picture of the physiological state of the effort, which will then enable to see if there has been a change in the physical condition of the athlete. “

The variety of tests of the Laboratory analysis in sports physiology from the College of Alma is virtually infinite. The measure of the maximum aerobic power (MAP) of the maximum oxygen intake (VO2 max), the critical values of power are part of the measurable data, among others.

Not machines

Gilles Nédélec agrees that all such figures can sometimes be sweltering. In the age of the monitoring, where the sensors power are gaining popularity among amateur athletes and high-level, the biology teacher recalls that it is essential to listen to what the athlete perceives the effort. Statistics are staggering on a monitor does not guarantee a victory during the day.

“We don’t want to dehumanize the performance and you can’t do it, warns Mr. Nédélec. An athlete is still a human being, with all the spheres that compose and influence it. You might have the highest MAP in the world, but if you’re not skilled on a bike, if you’re not motivated, if you are not intelligent in the race, if you get fed bad… All of these aspects are also important. This is where you can see that an athlete is a complex machine, but you can’t press a button and repeat the same results or performance every day. “



Jude Dufour has demonstrated that it is possible to develop high-level athletes in a “small region” as the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. The establishment of the Laboratory of analysis in sports physiology at the College of Alma comes to solidify his theory as to why it is not necessary to go abroad to reach the highest peaks.

“This lab is essential for our physiological bases and the qualities to develop over the years “, expressed the head coach of the club Cyclone d’alma. The one who is also a teacher in physical education at the College of Alma maintains that Gilles Nédélec is part of the equation in the quest toward a physical form sharpened.

“The athletes have confidence in Gilles and, for me, it brings me to a more scientific, Jude says Dufour. I’m on the field with the athletes, but to be able to rely on accurate data, it makes a difference. “

Needless to do great research to point out that Gilles Nédélec and Jude Dufour work in close collaboration. A discussion with each of them allows to find quickly that their speech is joined on several points. For example, the two are aware that every detail of training can have significant impact on the results.

“We can touch each auxiliary performance and with athletes of the highest level, it is necessary to try to find the 1 % improvement, argued Jude Dufour. A small percentage can make the difference between the tenth and the 30th position. The line is thin. “

Just like his colleague, Mr. Dufour is capable of exposing the limits of the “monitoring” and all the following data. The coach speaks of the response of perception to the effort, which differs from one athlete to another, in addition to all the external elements that can influence a performance.

“From all these figures, it is better able to calibrate our training, but if you interpret too much in the numbers and that it is too radical, it can be mixed. He must listen to his body, ” cautions Jude Dufour.



The Laboratory of analysis in sports physiology (PERIOD) also benefits the students of the science department of the College of Alma, including those enrolled in the natural sciences.

The teacher Gilles Nédélec takes advantage of the facilities of the PERIOD to provide concrete experiences to its students. Those of the cohort of the winter in the natural sciences will learn about the metabolism of the human when it is under strain. A student makes a test; his teammates analyze the results that come out from it.

“It is a plateau of real teaching,” observes Gilles Nédélec. We leave the world of theory, that can sometimes be dry and boring for the students. When I embarked on a bike, and I do take various steps, it becomes interesting. They can then interpret the data.”

The PERIOD is also used for the test synthesis in science. Students undertake a scientific approach by verifying assumptions or validating tests and equipment to demonstrate the effects, real or not. Jonathan Hudon