This article will discuss what lactate threshold is, how to test it, how to improve it, and sample workouts.
In endurance events, the best competitor among athletes with similar VO2 Max values is typically the individual who can sustain aerobic energy production at the highest percentage of his or her VO2 Max without accumulating large amounts of lactic acid in the muscle and blood.
Although numerous terms have been used to describe this phenomenon, lactate threshold is the one most commonly used.
Lactate threshold is the speed of movement or percentage of VO2 Max at which a specific blood lactate concentration is observed or the point at which blood lactate concentration begins to increase above resting levels.
Several studies have shown that an athlete’s lactate threshold appears to be a better indicator of his or her aerobic endurance performance that VO2 Max.
In most endurance athletes lactate threshold occurs at 78-85% of maximum heart rate, with values of 88-90% maximum heart rate seen in elite endurance athletes.
What is clear from the information above is that endurance athletes must improve their lactate threshold if they want to become faster, more competitive, or develop a greater aerobic capacity.
This requires the endurance athlete to conduct some training at elevated levels of blood and muscle lactate to maximize training improvements.
Although much of the research examining the role of lactate threshold in predicting endurance performance has centered around distance running, the same principles apply to predicting performance in endurance cycling, swimming, and cross-country skiing.
The only accurate way of getting your lactate threshold reading is to go to a lab and be tested. If you don’t have access to a lab a less accurate field test can be conducted
This test protocol to determine lactate threshold:
The time-trial method of determining lactate threshold pace and heart rate can be done on a treadmill set at a 1 percent grade, on a running track, or on any other flat, smooth surface that’s conducive to fast running.
It also requires some means of measuring the time elapsed and distance covered as well as heart rate. Be sure to conduct this test on a day when you are not fatigued from recent hard training.
A 2005 study by scientists at East Carolina University found that this method of determining LT heart rate and pace is very accurate. Its downside is that it’s hard—equivalent to running a half-hour race.
Now that we know what lactate threshold is and how to test it; what is the best way to improve it?
The short answer is through pace/tempo training one to two times a week.
Pace/tempo training uses an intensity at or slightly higher than race competition intensity.
This intensity corresponds to the lactate threshold; therefore, this type of training is often called threshold training. There are two ways to conduct pace/tempo training: steady and intermittent.
Steady pace/tempo training is continuous training conducted at an intensity equal to lactate threshold for durations of ~20-30 minutes.
Intermittent Tempo Training
Intermittent pace/tempo training is done at the same intensity as a steady-state workout, but the training session consists of a series of shorter intervals with brief recovery periods between work intervals.
The primary objective of pace/tempo training is to increase lactate threshold while also developing a sense of race pace and enhance the body’s ability to sustain endurance exercise at that pace.
Nothing Fancy here but here are some options that will get the job done: