In order to achieve peak performance levels, you need to train to win. Training hard does not necessarily guarantee you a gold medal, however. You need to train with purpose. For years now, effective training of competitive athletes such as marathoners, cyclists, and triathletes has been geared towards increasing muscle endurance through lactate training.

Lactate training refers to exercises that enhance production of lactate by the muscles while doing rigorous exercises. Lactate production is beneficial to the muscles because it neutralizes lactic acid (also produced by muscles-in-action), which causes fatigue and muscle burn. Lactate is used by the body as fuel: the more there is, the more the muscles are fueled and can continue vigorous exercise without getting fatigued. In this way, lactate production is necessary for endurance athletes trying to take their training to the next level.

Before you begin any lactate training regimen, it is important to understand that the amount of lactate produced by the body while resting is usually minimal. With increase in activity, blood lactate increases in volume and the lactate threshold – the limit (maximum) that lactate levels reach during any form of exercise – rises.

Determining Your Threshold

  • You can determine your own lactate threshold by using a portable lactate monitor and testing kit. Admittedly, this is a somewhat invasive approach, requiring a finger prick.
  • Alternatively, you can measure your lactate threshold by calculating it as a percentage of VO2 max. This is deemed as the capacity of a body to take up and transport maximum oxygen; also used to refer to a person’s physical fitness.
  • You can also gauge your lactate threshold by monitoring your heart rate. It is usually assumed that your threshold will occur at 85% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. Since this may not be very accurate, it is important to use the Karvonen formula instead of deducting your age from 220.

Lactate training can be done continuously or intermittently. Whether you are doing continuous or intermittent training, make sure to exercise at your current threshold or harder, i.e. slightly higher than your current threshold.

The main of aim of lactate training is so to increase the likelihood that your muscles will function at their maximum without running out of fuel, causing you to fatigue and slow down. Since you are presumably training for the purposes of winning or improving your performance, lactate training will also help you improve by monitoring your lactate threshold and increasing it. In this way you will not be training blindly but with focus, achieving results that will be visible long before the competition.