CELEBRITY trainer and Sport Relief star Professor Greg Whyte has been speaking at Liverpool Hope University to celebrate British Science Week.
The 52-year-old is an expert in the field of sports and exercise science, a former Director of Research for the British Olympic Association and ex-Director of Science & Research for the English Institute of Sport.
Professor Whyte is also a veteran of BBC’s Sport Relief series, having first coached comic David Walliams, 48, during an English Channel swim in 2006, and who went on to climb Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro twice.
And Prof Whyte, 52, addressed Hope staff and students this week to outline the crucial role the advancement of science plays in sport.
Speaking prior to his lecture, Prof Whyte, a former Olympic pentathlete, revealed the two ‘golden chalices’ of sport science that many are striving towards.
He revealed: “In the past two decades, the acceleration of sport science, sport medicine and coaching science has been incredible.
“But there are still two ‘golden chalices’ of research - the fundamental issues of sport science.
“One is pushing an athlete in training to the absolute limit without breaking them. How far, how hard, how much can you push before they buckle?
“I’ve been working in this for three decades now and it’s still the most-asked question of any coach.
“The other ‘Holy Grail’ is predicting injury - something I know Hope academics have been involved with here in terms of soft-tissue injuries sustained during football training.
“And the reason why the answer to both of those points doesn’t currently exist is because it’s such an incredibly complex and multi-faceted problem.”
Prof Whyte, who founded The Centre for Human Health & Performance clinic in London, says we can’t yet rely on a computer algorithm to predict what’s fundamentally a human problem.
He adds: “It’s not just about pattern recognition from data. Computational advances will make a difference here, and data handling is important.
“But I still border on the old school approach that it’s people, not algorithms, that matter.
“You’ll never get to 100 per cent specificity because humans are so very different. In terms of injury and athlete limits, I don’t think a ‘catchall’ will be discovered, purely because of the nature of life.”
During his two decades being involved with Sport Relief, Prof Whyte - an ultra-runner who completed the notoriously-gruelling Marathon Des Sables in 2015 - has trained celebrities including Davina McCall, 52, Zoe Ball, 49, Jo Brand, 62, and Eddie Izzard, 48.
And if you want to achieve your own personal fitness goal, Prof Whyte says that proper planning and goal-setting is crucial.
He adds: “Goal setting and planning are two key elements that I see little of - but they’re instrumental to success.
“People either don’t set goals or they set inappropriate ones.
“If you’re working towards a fitness project, make sure it’s the right goal, and within that goal think about the medium and short term aims, not just the long term outcome.
“Trying to achieve something is a pathway, and along the way you have stepping stones.
“And each of those stepping stones are crucial when it comes to commitment, motivation and belief.
“What most people forget is that you need a plan and a structure. It gives you a chance to evaluate what is and what isn’t working, so that you can adjust that plan and optimise your chance of success
“Success is not a chance event. Just because you buy a pair of trainers, you’re not automatically going to run the London marathon.”