Lactate Threshold Testing

by Erik Lewish


Are you an athlete with performance goals?

Hone in on where you can improve with the guidance of a coach by testing your lactate threshold, a biomarker for elite performance. Get to know your body to perform at your best


What is lactate threshold?

Before I can answer this we need a little primer in physiology and biochemistry. Lactic acid is a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism. It is created when there is not enough oxygen in the muscle during exercise, this is known as anaerobic exercise. The reason for the lack of


oxygen is because we are exercising at an intensity so high that our aerobic system cannot keep up with energy demand, and therefore we have to rely more on our anaerobic energy system to make up the difference. The anaerobic system is fine and great to use, and we can generate a lot of power for our bodies using it, however, it comes at a cost. That cost is lactic acid. Too much of it will make our muscles too acidic and then they can no longer function properly and the result is fatigue. The muscles just stop working. But once we take a break the lactic acid is cleared out of the muscles and the PH is restored. Our muscles function normally again.


Now that we know lactic acids role in the body, we can talk about why lactate threshold is important. Lactate threshold is when your body is both creating and eliminating lactic acid at the same rate, this means that exercise at this level is sustainable. Lactic acid will not accumulate any further and cause muscle fatigue. Lactate threshold, therefore, is the highest intensity level at which our bodies can exercise at a sustainable pace. This is important because when we can exercise at a high intensity level for a longer period of time it will lead to great increases in fitness. Once we know this point, everything else is based around this. If we want to do low-intensity work, it has to stay below our threshold. If we want to do some High Intensity Intervals (HIIT), then it needs to be done above our threshold to get the benefit of this type of training. An effective aerobic training plan cannot be created without first knowing an individual's lactate threshold.


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For more information on how to test your lactate threshold to perform your best, stop by the front desk or contact Coach Erik at elewish@adirondackhealth.org.