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Christopher Kirk

Dr Christopher Kirk PhD PGCE CSci CSCS

Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology


I am a BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist, NSCA certified strength & conditioning coach and researcher. I teach exercise physiology and strength & conditioning on both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. My interests are in the application of physiological first principles to improving combat sports performance and athlete health across the lifespan, with my main focus being MMA. I am currently undertaking an Early Career Research Fellowship for the 2022/23 academic year.


I completed my BSc (Hons) here at Sheffield Hallam in 2003, my MSc (by Research) at the University of Central Lancashire in 2014, and my PhD at Liverpool John Moores University in 2022. I have been teaching and lecturing since 2006, first in a number of FE colleges and then at the University of Derby before joining SHU in 2020. I use my breadth of experience to make the science of sport and exercise accessible and applicable for all our students to allow them to achieve their goals and pick their own futures. In my applied practice I have provided S&C coaching and physiological interventions for a wide range of sports including rugby, American football, GAA, taekwondo, MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, para-swimming, athletics and Olympic weightlifting. My practice includes novice athletes and international standard performers, but I approach each with the same goal - to utilise physiological first principles to improve their performance and health throughout their lives. My research is focussed on the performance and health of combat sports athletes, with MMA being my main area of interest. I work closely with the International MMA Federation, the English MMA Association and I maintain strong links with gyms, coaches, promoters, governing bodies and research groups across the globe.



Academy of Sport and Physical Activity

College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences


Sport and exercise physiology; Strength and conditioning

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science
BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Sport and Health
MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Science


Foundations of Physiology and Nutrition for Physical Activity and Sport
Physiology and Nutrition of Sport and Exercise
Professional Practice in Sport and Exercise Science


Measurement of training load and fatigue;
Training loads and training practices of combat sports;
Weight management and weight making in combat sports;
Performance outcome measures for combat sports;
Concussion occurrence and management in training environments.


In my research and applied practice I work closely with the International MMA Federation, the English MMA Association and a range of high level combat sports clubs, coaches and athletes.



Journal articles

Kirk, C., & Childs, C. (2023). Combat Sports as a Model for Measuring the Effects of Repeated Head Impacts on Autonomic Brain Function: A Brief Report of Pilot Data. Vision, 7 (2).

Baribeau, V., Kirk, C., Le, D.Q., Bose, A., Mueller, A., French, D., ... Murugappan, K.R. (2023). Rapid weight gain and weight differential predict competitive success in 2100 professional combat-sport athletes. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 18 (1), 85-94.

Spanias, C., Kirk, C., & Ovretveit, K. (2022). Position before submission? Techniques and tactics in competitive no-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 17 (2), 130-139.

Kirk, C., Malone, J., & Angell, P. (2022). Intra-unit reliability and movement variability of submission grappling external load as measured by torso mounted accelerometery. Biology of Sport, 40 (2), 457-464.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D.R., & Morton, J.P. (2021). Quantification of training load distribution in mixed martial arts athletes: A lack of periodisation and load management. PLOS ONE, 16 (5).

White, T., & Kirk, C. (2021). Pre-competition body mass loss characteristics of Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors in the United Kingdom. Nutrition and Health.

Kirk, C., Clark, D.R., Langan-Evans, C., & Morton, J.P. (2020). The physical demands of mixed martial arts: A narrative review using the ARMSS model to provide a hierarchy of evidence. Journal of sports sciences, 38 (24), 2819-2841.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., & Morton, J.P. (2020). Worth the Weight? Post Weigh-In Rapid Weight Gain is Not Related to Winning or Losing in Professional Mixed Martial Arts. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 30 (5), 357-361.

Kirk, C., Atkins, S., & Hurst, H.T. (2020). The pacing of mixed martial arts sparring bouts: A secondary investigation with new analyses of previous data to support accelerometry as a potential method of monitoring pacing. Human Movement, 21 (4), 88-96.

Vasconcelos, B.B., Protzen, G.V., Galliano, L.M., Kirk, C., & Del Vecchio, F.B. (2020). Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training in Combat Sports: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 34 (3), 888-900.

Kirk, C. (2018). The relationship between age and divisional rank in professional mixed martial arts. Facta Universitatis, Series: Physical Education and Sport, 16 (1), 073.

Kirk, C. (2018). Does anthropometry influence technical factors in competitive mixed martial arts? Human Movement, 19 (2), 46-59.

Kirk, C. (2016). Does Stature or Wingspan Length Have a Positive Effect on Competitor Rankings or Attainment of World Title Bouts in International and Elite Mixed Martial Arts? Sport Science Review, 25 (5-6), 334-349.

Kirk, C. (2016). The influence of age and anthropometric variables on winning and losing in professional mixed martial arts. Facta Universitatis Series : Physical Education and Sport, 14 (2), 227-236.

Kirk, C., Hurst, H., & Atkins, S. (2015). Comparison of the training loads of mixed martial arts techniques in isolated training and open sparring. Journal of Combat Sports and Martial Arts, 6 (1), 15-20.

Kirk, C., Hurst, H.T., & Atkins, S. (2015). Measuring the Workload of Mixed Martial Arts using Accelerometry, Time Motion Analysis and Lactate. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 15 (1), 359-370.

Stephen Atkins, H.T.H. (n.d.). Reliability of a Portable Accelerometer for Measuring Workload during Mixed Martial Arts. Journal of Athletic Enhancement, 03 (05).

Conference papers

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2022). Influence of cardiorespiratory fitness on performance in simulated mixed martial arts bouts (Poster and abstract) – Runner up for ECR Best Poster Presentation Award. In The Physiological Society: The Biomedical Basis of Elite Performance 2022, Nottingham, 12 April 2022 - 13 April 2022.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2021). The relationships between external and internal training loads in mixed martial arts (Oral presentation and abstract) - Awarded BASES Conference Grant: Sport and Performance Division. In BASES Conference 2021, Online, 16 November 2021 - 18 November 2021.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2021). Exploratory factor analysis of relationships between latent training load and overreaching variables in mixed martial arts (Poster and abstract). In The Physiological Society: Future Physiology 2021, Online, 19 April 2021 - 21 April 2021.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2020). The perceived intensities and distribution of training modes in mixed martial arts (Poster and abstract). In UKSCA Conference 2020, Online.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2020). The training characteristics, loads and effects of mixed martial arts (Oral presentation). In ACSM Combat Sport Special Interest Group Conference 2020, Online, 4 May 2020.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2019). The relationship between training variables and sleep quality amongst mixed martial arts competitors (Poster and abstract). In The Physiological Society: Future Physiology 2019, Liverpool, 2019 - 2019.

Kirk, C., Clark, D., Langan-Evans, C., & Morton, J. (2019). An exploratory case study examining the training loads and effects of mixed martial arts competition preparation (Oral presentation and abstract). In BASES Conference 2019, Leicester, 19 November 2019 - 20 November 2019.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C., Clark, D., & Morton, J. (2022). Body composition changes but no physiological adaptations following a mixed martial arts pre-competition training camp (Oral presentation and abstract). In BASES Conference 2022, Leicester, 15 November 2022 - 16 November 2022.

Other activities

Associate Editor for Research Directs in Strength and Performance;
Associate Editor for Journal of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences;
External examiner for BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Central Lancashire;
International MMA Federation athlete weight management task force member;
NSCA Combat Sport Special Interest Group executive committee member

Postgraduate supervision

Please contact me if you are interested in undertaking postgraduate research study in any area related to my areas of expertise.

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