Where Does Threshold Training Fit Into Your Training

In a previous article, we explained the way to improve Aerobic Capacity. So, where does Lactate Threshold fit in?

It is important to understand that the body is constantly producing lactic acid. At rest, blood lactate concentration is usually below 2.0mmol/L. This does not create an issue because in the presence of oxygen, during rest and low intensity exercise, the body is able to convert lactate back into energy.

However, as exercise intensity increases, the oxygen supply is unable to match the demands of our muscles and as a result, the body turns to stored glycogen or carbohydrates for energy.

The breakdown of glycogen results in the production of lactic acid which is unsustainable during endurance performance. The accumulation of lactic acid is the feeling when you are running or cycling fast for a few minutes and the legs start to feel very heavy.

Threshold Training

Lactate Threshold

This is the intensity of exercise at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood at a faster rate than it can be removed.

Usually this occurs at approximately 4.0mmol/L. This is very important in endurance sports because it is an intensity that we can hold onto for a very long period of time. Training just below lactate threshold commonly referred to as “tempo” or “sweet spot” aims to push the lactate threshold higher.

Training just above lactate threshold in zone 4 aims to pull the lactate threshold higher by increasing lactic acid tolerance. For cyclists, this is also where FTP lies.

In short, increasing your Lactate Threshold results in being able to hold a higher intensity without accumulating lactate and therefore, running and cycling faster.

Lactate Threshold Training

Although a lot of training is performed at zone 2 high zone 5/6 to increase aerobic capacity, no athlete competes at those intensities. Athletes want to race as fast as physiologically possible without fatiguing. This is where lactate threshold training comes in. 

Lactate Threshold Training is arguably the most race specific training an athlete can perform. It can be performed at any stage of the training cycle depending on what the coach wants to achieve.

Testing for lactate threshold involves a ramp test at a submaximal intensity. A finger prick or earlobe prick is performed to obtain a small blood sample using a blood lactate analyser. This will measure the concentration of lactate in the blood at any given intensity of exercise.

From testing, specific training zones can be set, individualised training can be programmed to maximise training adaptation, and race pace intensities can be strategised to optimise race day performance.

Want To Know More

We have more information about this and other training approaches in our Sports Science section of the website.

If you would like to know more or to start training to improve your cycling or running performance, please contact our Exercise Physiologist Justin to book in a session.

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