What is Lactate Threshold?

Lactate Threshold is a point during intensive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the bloodstream faster than what the body can remove. Lactate is a by-product of the anaerobic energy pathway, a process which provides energy to muscles by breaking down glucose in the absence of oxygen.

Anaerobic metabolism produces energy during short, intense burst of activity usually not lasting more than a few minutes. Lactate starts to build up until it reaches a threshold where it starts to accumulate in the body.

The lactate threshold is determined by an increase in the concentration of lactate in the blood and is thought of as the main cause of muscle fatigue. Once an athlete reaches this point, he/she is being forced to slow down in order to recover. Training to increase your lactate threshold will allow you to engage in more intense physical activity for a prolong period of time before reaching exhaustion.

How do you measure it?

The lactate threshold test is normally conducted in a sports lab and is quite similar to the VO2 max test. Either a treadmill or a stationary bike is being used to conduct the test. The intensity of the exercise is increased every 4 to 5 minutes and blood samples are taken from the participant after certain periods. The process continues until the lactate in the blood increases significantly and shows a sharp spike in the data recorded.

Why lactate threshold matters

It is used to determine the appropriate training intensity and heart rate zone as well as to monitor your own progression. It also gives you an idea whether you need to make any changes to your exercise routine. The initial lactate test will give you an idea of your current fitness level and is also used as a starting point for training. Subsequent test results over time can be used to note any improvements in your performance. With proper conditioning, you should be able to run faster and last longer before reaching your threshold.

Increasing your lactate threshold

Studies have shown that with proper training and diet, an athlete can effectively increase the intensity of their activity and last for a longer period of time.

Training: By gradually increasing the intensity of your training. This can be done using interval training (eg. 1 min sprint, 3 min rest) or constant steady training (eg. 20-30min run, high intensity effort).

Nutrition: Proper nutrition such as pre-exercise and post-exercise meal plays a strong part when an individual is engaged in high intensity work as it affects the amount of glycogen stores in the body.

For further information about Lactate Threshold testing at our OUB Clinic or if you would like to book an appointment for the test, call us at 65366418 or email us at  hello@dtapclinic.com.sg.

Darren Foo
Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant