WHAT IS LACTIC ACID?
Lactic acid is a metabolic by-product carbohydrate metabolism. As the active muscles use the carbohydrate fuel source, lactic acid is continually produced at rest and during exercise. Once it is formed in the muscles, it diffuses from the muscle cell into the blood, thus raising the blood lactate levels.
During rest and low intensity exercise, blood lactate levels remain at low concentration levels, below 1 mmol/L. These levels can be "cleared" or buffered and the athlete can continue at comfortable levels of training. At moderate intensities, the blood lactate levels approach 2-5 mmil/L. The concentration of blood lactate levels is the result of lactate production and removal. If production exceeds the removal, lactates levels increase. Controversially, if removal is greater than production, levels decrease and reduce blood lactate concentration.
IDENTIFICATION OF LACTATE THRESHOLD
Lactic acid levels are obtained during incremental exercise test. At low intensities, lactate levels will be low and relatively constant, as removal is greater then production. As exercise intensities become greater, the lactate production will exceed the removal and elevation of blood lactate is observed. Lactate measurements are obtained by a simple finger stick and analyzed by the blood lactate analyzing equipment. Lactate threshold is identified when a 1 mmil/L increase in blood lactate concentration occurs above baseline values as is followed by another 1 mmol/L increase. The point at which lactate threshold occurs varies between athletes depending on such factors as fitness levels, experience in training, altitude, muscle fiber type, psychological factors, training environment and nutritional status.
BENEFITS OF LACTATE THRESHOLD DETERMINATION
- Train at higher and more precise percentage of V02 max.
- Train at a faster pace without large increases of blood lactate levels
- Train at a lower heart rate of faster pace at the same blood lactate levels
- Lower blood lactate levels at the same intensity
- Become a more "economical" performer
- Develop the neuromuscular recruitment necessary for optimal performance in the desired sport
- Create a specific training zone and training program to improve performance
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