Lactate Threshold Training: The Definitive Guide
Lactate threshold training involves specific endurance exercise focussed on increasing the speed, intensity, or power output at the lactate threshold.
In this article, we look at:
- The science of lactate threshold training,
- Why, it’s an essential training intensity for endurance athletes.
- Look at different workouts to improve your lactate threshold
WHAT IS LACTATE THRESHOLD TRAINING?
Lactate threshold training refers to exercise completed at a specific intensity range where blood lactate accumulates.
We can complete this as:
- One continuous effort e.g. 20-30minutes sustained tempo effort
- Longer intervals e.g. 2-3 x 10minutes at lactate threshold intensity.
- Several shorter intervals e.g. 4-6 x 5minutes at just above threshold intensity.
What is the lactate threshold?
Put simply, the lactate threshold is an exercise intensity where blood lactate shows an accelerated increase.
The image below highlights the relationship between exercise intensity and lactate levels.
- At low intensities, lactate remains low, until a point referred to as the aerobic threshold (LT1).
- After LT1, lactate increases linearly until the point of the lactate/anaerobic threshold (LT2).
- Above LT2, lactate levels show an accelerated increase.
- Threshold training involves exercising at intensities around the point of LT2.
Why exercise at this intensity?
First, we know the lactate threshold is a key predictor of endurance exercise performance in a range of sports including running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, cross-country skiing and rowing.
Second, it’s highly trainable.
Third, improvements transfer directly to improved endurance racing performance.
So the purpose of lactate threshold training is to increase the speed or power at LT2. This will allow you to train and race at closer to your full potential.
How much can you improve your LT?
One difference between Elite and less well-trained athletes is their ability to race at high percentages of VO2 max. A major factor here is their lactate threshold – essentially a higher LT means you can race at higher percentages of your VO2 max.
Untrained vs Trained vs Elite
- In untrained individuals, the lactate threshold occurs at ~50-60% of VO2 max – equivalent to ~55-65% of maximum heart rate.
- Among well-trained athletes, this increases to between 75 and 85% VO2max (~80-90% maximum heart rate)
- In elite athletes this is often nearer to, or above 90% VO2max (~90-95% maximum heart rate).
The key point here: LT is highly trainable.
Improvements following training
One of the major effects of lactate threshold training is an improved lactate profile.
In the image below, you can see how specific training shifts the lactate curve to the right.
- The blue line shows lactate levels before undergoing a period of specific LT training.
- The red line shows the improved lactate profile (lower blood lactate levels) following training.
As the training specifically targeted lactate threshold intensity (in this case a running speed of just over 18kmh), the greatest improvement (in the lactate profile) occurred at around threshold intensity.
SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF THRESHOLD TRAINING
As we’ve seen lactate threshold training is considered a key training intensity. But why is that?…
Physiological benefits of threshold training:
- Strong stimulus for increasing aerobic capacity and conditioning,
- Increased concentration and activity of mitochondrial enzymes,
- Strengthens and leads to hypertrophy of type I muscle fibers,
- Improves efficiency of type I and II muscle fibers,
- Increased muscle fiber recruitment,
- Conversion of type IIb to IIa muscle fibers,
- Increases stroke volume and cardiac output,
- Greater efficiency of aerobic metabolism,
- Increases muscle glycogen storage,
- Greater muscle capillary density,
- Increases blood plasma volume.
Increased recruitment of type 1 muscle fibers
One characteristic of lactate threshold training is how this corresponds with the peak recruitment of type 1 muscle fibers. Training at this intensity is important for the development of efficiency and improved muscular endurance.
Threshold intensity is optimum for training type I muscle fibers. It provides a powerful stimulus for increasing mitochondrial aerobic enzymes and increasing the percentage of VO2 max at the lactate threshold.
One benefit of threshold training is an increased recruitment of type 1 muscle fibers. In fact, increased muscle fiber recruitment is one characteristic of elite endurance athletes, allowing greater work rate at lactate threshold intensity.
Improved exercise performance
So, we’ve just seen the physiological basis of lactate threshold training, but what are the performance benefits of lactate threshold training?…
- Lifts your lactate threshold nearer to your VO2 max – allowing you to race at a greater percentage of your maximum capacity (Sjodin et al., 1982; Neiss et al., 1992; Franch et al. 1998; Carter et al., 1999).
- Enhances exercise efficiency at lactate threshold intensity (Hopker et al., 2009; Franch et al., 1998;).
- Increases the velocity, and power, at the lactate threshold and maximum lactate steady state (Enoksen et al., 2011; Philip et al., 2008; Billat et al., 2004; Evertsen et al., 2001).
- Extends the time to exhaustion at the maximum lactate steady state (Billat et al., 2004).
- Provides a strong training stimulus for increasing VO2 max (Phillip et al., 2008; Billat et al., 2004) and the velocity at VO2 max (Enoksen et al., 2011).
- Improves endurance exercise performance (Priest and Hagan, 1987).
Interestingly, research has shown that lactate threshold training can be more beneficial than just ramping up training volume.
In one study (Enoksen et al., 2011), researchers compared the effects of lactate threshold training against increasing training volume (by 40% – from 50km to 70km). They found threshold training to be more effective at increasing the velocity at VO2max and the lactate threshold.
It’s also effective for master endurance runners (Billat et al., 2004), where researchers observed improvements in the time to exhaustion at the maximum lactate steady state (MLSS). In this study, time to exhaustion increased from approximately 44 to 63 minutes (nearly a 50% improvement), following just 6 weeks of training.
And research in cyclists (Hopker et al., 2009), found that gross efficiency correlated with the time spent training between the lactate threshold, and onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA).
Greater training volume than HIIT
One advantage of lactate threshold training is the reduced levels of stress compared with HIIT. In practical terms, this allows for a larger volume of training compared with HIIT.
Threshold training may be the optimum intensity for raising levels of type I aerobic enzymes, improving muscular endurance and increasing aerobic efficiency. In this way, it’s considered an excellent compromise between training volume and intensity (Weltman et al., 1990).
Lower risk of overtraining
Another benefit is a reduced risk of over training, compared with HIIT workouts.
One factor here is the levels of catecholamines (stress hormones). Compared with HIIT sessions, we see reduced levels of these stress hormones during tempo/lactate threshold training.
Although we see a rise in stress hormones at the point of the lactate threshold, the increases is significantly lower at higher intensities. This makes HIIT physiologically more stressful than threshold intensity.
Because of this, the lactate threshold is an important intensity for improving aerobic fitness, lactate threshold, and exercise economy, while also reducing the risk of over-training.
So, compared with HIIT, there are two key benefits:
- Threshold training allows a greater training volume than high-intensity interval training (HIIT sessions).
- There’s a reduced risk of over-training compared with higher intensities
That said, HIIT training is still extremely beneficial to endurance athletes and should always form a key part of training.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLD
Before looking at some ‘specific’ lactate threshold training sessions, let’s look at how you can improve your lactate threshold.
There are several approaches that that you can use.
- Developing a strong and efficient aerobic base through a large volume of low intensity training.
- High Intensity interval training to develop the upper limits of endurance performance
- Strength training to develop efficiency, strength, power and fatigue resistance.
- Specific lactate threshold training to lift your LT nearer to your VO2max
While each approach is useful individually, the greatest benefit comes when we integrate each of these into a well-structured training plan.
One approach that works particularly well involves developing a strong aerobic base to push up the lactate threshold. And then combining this with lactate threshold and higher intensity training to pull up your lactate threshold.
We often refer to this approach as the push pull method. In effect, you push up your lactate threshold using large volumes of low intensity training. And pull up your lactate threshold with higher intensity training.
Let’s inspect each of these.
1. Low Intensity Training
Low intensity training is one of the most important factors in developing your lactate threshold. It set’s the foundational structure for all future training and is vital for long-term development of aerobic efficiency.
It forms the bulk of all successful endurance training plans, where it normally makes up over 80% of total training.
What intensity should you use for low-intensity training?
From a scientific standpoint, low-intensity refers to intensities that are just below the first rise in lactate levels (LT1).
To identify this correctly requires a lactate threshold test.
If you don’t have access to lactate threshold testing, then there are a few options that give a relatively accurate prediction.
- The first method is to use a percentage of maximum heart rate – for well-trained athletes, LT1 would equate to approximately 75% of maximum heart rate.
- Another option is to use a percentage of your heart rate at your estimated lactate threshold. As a guideline this would equate to around 78-83% of your estimated heart rate at lactate threshold.
- A third option is to use a percentage of power, or speed at your estimated lactate threshold. As a guideline this equates to around 70-80% of your estimated speed, or power, at lactate threshold.
As I’ve mentioned, training at these low intensities should form the bulk of endurance training. It should comprise a minimum of 50% of your total training volume. But here’s the thing… we know that elite athletes typically concentrate 80% of their training in this intensity zone. So, it’s clear that a large volume, low-intensity training, is an effective training approach.
Whilst this sounds a lot, don’t forget that this is the intensity used for most of your mid to long duration training sessions. It’s also the intensity used during the warmup and cool-down periods of more intense sessions, and during easier recovery sessions.
So, when taken together, you can see how this can easily make up a large volume of training.
Why is low-intensity training important for developing your LT?
First, by keeping most of your training volume at lower intensities, this allows for a much larger training volume.
Second, a large volume of low intensity training is vital for the development of a well-conditioned and efficient aerobic system. In particular, this leads to specific adaptations within your slow twitch muscle fibres.
These adaptations include:
- Increased mitochondrial size, density and activity
- Greater muscle capillarisation
- Increased aerobic enzyme levels and activity
- Greater aerobic energy production
- Enhanced fat oxidation
So, now let’s look at HITT training.
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training (HIIT training) refers to training that’s completed at intensities that are close to, or above your VO2 max (maximal aerobic capacity). To be high intensity, this should be above 90% of VO2max – normally this would involve completing intervals at an intensity of around 95-100% of VO2max.
This can either be longer or shorter intervals; ideally with an active recovery.
Improve aerobic capacity and your LT
The real advantage to this type of training comes through increasing the upper limits of aerobic capacity and improving neuromuscular co-ordination.
Effectively, this increases the power, or speed at VO2 max. And when this happens it also lifts the power, and speed, at your lactate threshold. So this helps to “pull-up” your lactate threshold by lifting the upper limits of aerobic capacity.
Develops fast and slow twitch muscle fibers
Training at these intensities helps to develop all muscle fibres (slow twitch, fast oxidative and fast glycolytic). Helping to improve fatigue resistance and co-ordination between the different fibre types.
Interestingly, high-intensity intervals are actually one of the best ways to further develop slow twitch muscle fibres. And while we often focus on low-to-moderate intensity training for slow twitch muscle fibres; there’s firm evidence that sprint interval training is also very effective.
Increased risk of over-training
One important factor with HIIT training is the increased risk of over-training. This needs to be carefully factored into training, using a balanced approach, with an appropriate amount of low intensity training.
As a guideline, including 1-2 weekly HIIT workouts work well for most athletes. Beyond this you increase the risk of over-training.
Now, let’s look at strength training.
3. Strength Training
Strength training often gets overlooked by endurance athletes, but it’s one of the most time effective ways to improve endurance, exercise efficiency and the fatigue resistance of slow and fast twitch muscle fibres. It’s also beneficial for lactate threshold development.
One of the real benefits of strength training relates to an improved ability to recruit muscle fibres. And as I mentioned earlier in this article, improved muscle fibre recruitment is one reason elite athletes can exercise at higher intensities at their lactate threshold.
As a guideline 1-2 weekly strength sessions are sufficient for most endurance athletes.
Now let’s look at LT training.
4. Specific Lactate Threshold Training
As I mentioned earlier in this article, LT training refers to specific training at the intensity that corresponds with, or is slightly below, your lactate threshold. Normally, this involves either a continuous effort (e.g. 25-30minutes), or we can split it into several longer (e.g. 2-3 x 10minutes) or shorter (e.g. 4-6 x 5minutes) intervals.
We’ll inspect some specific lactate threshold workouts shortly.
So why train at this intensity?
First, it’s the most specific way to improve your lactate threshold.
Second, whilst there are many benefits to training at this intensity, the most significant benefit comes from increasing the percentage of VO2max that you can sustain during endurance exercise.
In effect, it allows you to sustain a greater intensity, speed, or power.
Why threshold training is beneficial
One reason lactate threshold training is so beneficial relates to the intensity you are using: you are training at the point where lactate accumulates at an accelerated rate.
So why is that important?
First, we need to consider why lactate is accumulating: lactate accumulates, at the intensity where there is an imbalance between production and removal.
Or put another way: more lactate is being produced than metabolised by your muscle fibres.
When you train at this specific intensity, you improve your muscle’s ability to metabolise lactate, during a process called oxidative phosphorylation.
This process occurs within the mitochondria of your oxidative muscle fibres (slow twitch and fast twitch ‘oxidative’ muscle fibres). And the more efficient your muscles are at using lactate, the greater the intensity that you can sustain during prolonged exercise.
OPTIMISING LACTATE THRESHOLD TRAINING
To get the most out of lactate threshold training, it’s vital that you’re able to control intensity correctly.
What is LT intensity?
So, what intensity should you use? In terms of specificity, the intensity should fall within the range of the second LT turn point (LT2) that I mentioned earlier in this article.
Whilst there is individual variation, for most athletes this corresponds with an intensity that can be sustained for 50-70 minutes. However, depending on the training focus, this may sometimes involve training at an intensity that is slightly above or below LT intensity.
- For most distance runners, this equates to somewhere between 10k-10mile race pace. However, with elite runners this can be closer to their half marathon running speed.
- In cyclists, this would normally be an intensity that’s sustainable for around 30-40km. Again, this can vary depending on ability level.
The only proper way to be sure of lactate threshold intensity is through lactate threshold testing, although there are several useful field-based tests.
Lactate Threshold Testing
Elite athletes will often undergo lactate threshold testing to determine optimum training intensities. We can then set training zones, based on speed/pace, heart rate, or power output.
The result of this is… training becomes much more effective and purposeful.
However, most of us don’t have regular access to a sports science laboratory. Here, you can gain an estimate of your lactate threshold by completing a time trial, or an FTP cycling test, whilst recording your heart rate, speed, or power output.
You can then use the average power, pace, and heart rate data to set training zones.
It’s worth noting:
Field based tests do not actually identify your lactate threshold. They provide an estimate of the intensity, or speed, where we would expect to find the lactate threshold.
That said, they are a useful way to test and structure your training intensity.
You can find more information on estimating the lactate threshold here.
Now, let’s look at the best way to control the intensity of threshold workouts.
How to control intensity
To control intensity, the following approaches work best:
Cycle training: a combination of power and heart rate.
Running training: a combination of pace, power and heart rate.
The advantage of using power to control intensity
Power is currently the best way to control intensity during threshold-based workouts.
Why is that?…
- Power gives you a real time measure of your work rate.
- This allows you to achieve a more consistent work rate across all intervals.
So, if your focus is on consistency, then power should be the primary focus.
If you’re a cyclist, then I’m sure you either have a power meter, or are familiar with power meters.
Power meters are less widely used by runners, although their popularity is increasing. If you want to read more about how running power meters can be effective for run training, you can view my stryd footpod review.
Another option for running training is running pace. This can also be effective, providing that the terrain isn’t too undulating. I’ve given some running pace recommendations, along with power and heart rate, for each of the running workouts listed below.
What about heart rate?…
Always pay attention to heart rate
Heart rate monitoring can also be useful for controlling and monitoring intensity during tempo and threshold intervals.
However, there are a couple of things to consider:
The first factor is cardiac drift: a natural upward drift in heart rate during sustained exercise. This can occur even when exercise intensity remains constant. And sometimes, it may increase by as much as 10-20bpm after 30minutes of sustained exercise.
So, why does that matter?… If your controlling intensity by heart rate, then cardiac drift can lead to a progressive reduction in work rate (power) or pace.
Another factor is the delayed heart rate response. While power gives an instant snapshot of your current work rate; heart rate responds more slowly. In effect, heart rate responds ‘after’ a change in work rate.
That said, there is one major reason to monitor intensity with heart rate… it’s the best way to monitor physiological stress.
Why is that important?… Physiological stress changes throughout a workout, even when work rate is consistent. So, while power helps you achieve a more consistent work rate, it doesn’t tell us about the actual level of physiological stress.
The best approach is to use power to control intensity, while keeping a check on heart rate, to monitor physiological stress.
Heart rate response during threshold training
Let’s look at the heart rate response during exercise.
During this example – some 5-minute cycling intervals I completed at FTP intensity – I controlled exercise intensity using power, with average power kept within 1-2% of target across all intervals.
While the average power was very consistent, average heart rate rose from 154 (1st interval) to 165bpm (6th interval). And peak heart rate increased from 160 (1st interval) to 169bpm (6th interval).
This highlights two key points:
- Physiological stress increased across the session, even when work rate was consistent.
- Controlling intervals by heart rate would have resulted in a significant decline in work rate (power) across the 6 intervals.
Here, a 10bpm rise in heart rate was within the expected range for me during this workout.
As with any type of training, some individuals will respond differently to threshold training. The optimum level varies between individuals. In part, this is because of slight differences in our own unique physiology.
Another really important consideration is your current training volume.
If your training volume is low, then the volume of threshold training would need to be lower than someone with a greater training volume. For most athletes, this should make up somewhere between 5 and 10% of total training volume (depending on training experience, conditioning and your targeted race distance).
Another important factor is your training focus. For instance, if your training focus is 5k or 10k running, then the volume and the approach to threshold training would be quite different to someone focusing on marathons, or half-marathons.
For this reason, it’s important to use an individualised approach when establishing the optimum percentage for threshold training.
LACTATE THRESHOLD WORKOUTS
As I’ve mentioned, lactate threshold training involves specific training at intensities close to the LT2. Mostly, this involves either a continuous effort (e.g. 20-30 minutes) or a series of smaller intervals (e.g. 3 x 10-minute intervals separated by 2-3 minute active recoveries).
Normally, longer continuous efforts involve exercising at an intensity that’s slightly below lactate threshold – often referred to as tempo intensity.
With shorter intervals, the intensity can be slightly above threshold.
The five types of lactate threshold workouts we’re going to look at are:
- Tempo training
- Lactate threshold intervals
- Supra-threshold intervals
- Over-under threshold intervals
- Advanced Threshold Training
So, lets’s look at how you can use threshold training to improve your endurance.
We’re going to start with Tempo training.
#1 Tempo training
As the name implies, tempo training involves sustained training. Although not strictly a threshold training session – the intensity is slightly below threshold intensity – these fulfil a similar training purpose.
So what is tempo training? Put simply, tempo training involves prolonged exercise at “moderately hard” intensities. In terms of intensity, training is classified as being tempo intensity when it falls into the range of:
- 76-90% of FTP, or lactate threshold power – depending on whether you’re using FTP or lactate threshold.
- 84-94% of lactate threshold heart rate.
- For running pace, this would typically be 5-10% slower than threshold pace, or estimated threshold pace.
Normally, tempo training involves one continuous workout (e.g. 30-60 minutes), with the intensity determined by the length of the workout and your own training focus. As an example, a half marathon runner might include a 30-minute tempo run at half marathon pace. Whereas a marathon runner might run a longer 60-minute tempo workout at marathon pace.
You can also complete this as intervals. For example, a triathlete might complete 3 x 20minute tempo intervals at half ironman bike intensity.
Why use tempo training?
Tempo training is a great way to develop muscular endurance, fatigue resistance, and the ability to race at high percentages of VO2 max.
In terms of threshold development, it’s slightly less effective than lactate threshold training. However, if you’re racing in longer events where intensity is slightly below LT2 (Marathon, endurance cycling events, middle distance triathlons etc), then tempo training is actually more specific.
Another advantage with tempo training is you can complete longer sessions.
One problem is when athletes spend too much time at tempo intensity. It’s considered slightly less productive in terms of exercise benefit.
Example Tempo workouts:
- 25-30minutes at half marathon pace
- Long run with last 20minutes at half marathon pace
- 60minute run at marathon pace
- 60minute sustained tempo effort at 80-90% FTP
- 2-3 x 20minutes at 85-90% FTP
- 3-5 x 20minute at half ironman bike intensity
So, now let’s move up the intensity scale and take a look at how we can use lactate threshold intervals to improve exercise performance.
#2 Threshold Intervals
This involves completing a series of intervals at an intensity corresponding with your LT2. With each interval separated by short recoveries – ideally these are just long enough to maintain the intensity of the work interval.
As mentioned earlier, the major benefit from this intensity is improved lactate threshold and endurance exercise performance.
Here the intensity can range from slightly below, to slightly above threshold intensity:
- 91-105% of FTP, or LT power – depending on whether you’re using FTP or lactate threshold.
- 95-105% of your threshold heart rate.
- For running pace, this would normally be between 1% faster and 5% slower than threshold pace, or estimated threshold pace.
Whether you train slightly above or below LT depends on the phase of your training, your conditioning and training focus. For instance, if you’re a 35minute 10k runner, it would be more beneficial to complete threshold training at just above LT (100-105% LT, or predicted LT). Whereas, if you’re a 60-minute 10k runner, a slightly lower intensity might be more effective (95-100% LT).
Example Threshold Workouts:
- 2-3 x 15minutes at 10mile pace, 5minutes recovery
- 2-3 x 10minutes at between 10k and 10mile race pace, separated by 2-3mins active recovery
- 5-6 x 5mins at 10k pace, separated by 1-2mins active recoveries
- 3 x 20mins at 91-95% FTP, 5-10mins active recovery
- 3 x 10mins at 95-100% FTP, 3-5mins active recoveries
- 6 x 5mins at 100-105% FTP, 1-2mins active recoveries
#3 Supra-Threshold Intervals
Supra-threshold intervals are an intensity between your threshold and VO2 max. They provide a strong training stimulus for both aerobic capacity and lactate threshold.
Of all the threshold based workouts, these are one the most effective. That said, it really depends on your training purpose.
The real advantage here is that you get the combined benefits of training your aerobic capacity, LT development, improved muscular endurance, fatigue resistance and enhanced lactate clearance and metabolism.
So, what intensity should you use for these?
- If you’re going by power, then aiming for just above threshold (or FTP) works well ~103-108% FTP.
- Using heart rate is less effective for Supra-threshold intensity because of the effects of cardiac drifts.
- For running pace, these would normally be 1-4% faster than threshold pace.
For many runners, this will be close to 10k running pace. That said, this really depends on what your 10k time is. As an example, if your 10k time is around 60minutes, then supra-threshold pace would be nearer to 5k running pace.
In this way, running at 10k pace can be physiologically very different between athletes (depending on their performance level).
For me, these are most effective when I use an intensity that I can sustain for around 25-30minutes in a one-off effort. This equates to an intensity that falls between 5k and 10k running intensity, or 20-30minute power when cycling.
Example Supra-Threshold Workout:
- 3 x 8mins at 30minute race pace, 3-5mins jog recovery
- 6-8 x 3mins at 30mins race pace, 1-2mins jog recovery
- 3 x 8mins at 3-5% above FTP, 5mins recovery
- 6-8 x 3mins at 5-8% above FTP, 1.5-2mins recovery
#4 Over-Under Training:
Over-under threshold intervals – as the name suggests – involves oscillating between intensities that are just above and just below threshold intensity.
An advantage here is that the average intensity is very close to LT. And by combining this with intervals above threshold, this can help to push up your lactate threshold and also develop your aerobic capacity. It also improves fatigue resistance, muscular endurance and the ability to clear and metabolise lactate.
Example over-under workouts:
- 3x12mins (alternating between 3mins at just below LT, 1min above LT), 3-4min active recovery between sets
- 3x12mins (alternating between 2mins below LT, 1min above LT), 3-4min active recovery between sets
- 3x10mins (alternating between 60secs below LT, 60secs above LT), 3-4min active recovery between sets
In terms of intensity, you want to be aiming for just a few percent below LT intensity on the “under’s” and a few percent above on the “overs”.
#5 Advanced Workouts
A more advanced and challenging approach is to combine the different approaches (tempo, threshold, supra-threshold) into one workout. As an example, you might combine supra-threshold intervals with a tempo effort, or you could go one stage further and sandwich some supra-threshold intervals inbetween tempo or threshold intervals.
Physiologically, this is more challenging, but can prove extremely effective.
Example Advanced Workouts:
- 4 x (5mins Supra-threshold, 1:30-2min recovery) + 5mins easy + 20min Tempo
- 10min LT + 3-5mins easy + 5 x (3mins Supra-threshold, 60-90second easy) + 3-5mins easy +10min LT
You can view some examples of this within the Half Marathon training plan elite.
So, that’s covered lactate threshold training. If you found this article useful, then please share this article to help support this site.
- Threshold training involves completing either continuous or interval based training at the intensity of the lactate threshold.
- This corresponds with an exercise intensity where blood lactate levels accumulate at a faster rate.
- Not only is it a key component of endurance performance, it’s highly trainable.
- The LT intensity can increase from around 55-60% of VO2 max in untrained individuals to over 90% VO2 max in elite athletes.
- Your lactate threshold can be tested in the laboratory, or predicted using field based tests or time trials.
- LT Training increases your ability to race at close to your VO2 max, enhances fatigue resistance and time to exhaustion, improves exercise efficiency, aerobic capacity and endurance exercise performance.
- It’s believed to be the optimum intensity for recruitment of type I muscle fibers (slow twitch) and increasing the levels of aerobic enzyme in type I muscle fibers.
- Threshold training has a reduced risk of over-training compared with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Allowing a greater volume of training compared with HIIT.
- The optimum volume depends on training status, conditioning, and your training focus. As a general guide, it should make up ~5-10% of total training volume.
- You can improve your LT by developing a strong aerobic base, strength training, high-intensity interval training, and specific threshold based training.
- Four key types of threshold training include: tempo, lactate threshold intervals, supra-threshold, and over-under training.
- More advanced workouts involve combining the four methods of threshold training.
- Threshold sessions are best controlled using power and heart rate.
Found This Article Useful?…
If you found this article useful, I’d be grateful if you’d help it to spread by sharing it.
Acevado, E.O. and Goldfarb, A.H. (1989). Increased training intensity effects on plasma lactate, ventilatory thresholds, and endurance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 21, 563-568.
Billat V, Sirvent P, Lepretre PM, Koralsztein JP. (2004) Training effect on performance, substrate balance and blood lactate concentration at maximal lactate steady state in master endurance-runners. Pflugers Arch. 2004 Mar;447(6):875-83. Epub 2004 Jan 23.
Bunc, V., Heller, J., Moravec, P. and Sprynarova, S. (1989) Ventilatory threshold and mechanical efficiency in endurance runners. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 58, 693-698.
Carter, H., Jones, A.M. and Doust, J.H. (1999). Effect of six weeks of endurance training on the lactate minimum speed. Journal of Sports Sciences. 17, 957-967.
Coyle, E.F., Feltner, M.E., Kautz, S., Hamilton, M.T., Montain, S.J., Baylor, A.M., Abraham, L.D. and Petrek, G.W. (1991). Physiological and biochemical factors associated with elite endurance cycling performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 23, 93-107.
Coyle, E. F. (1995) Integration of the Physiological Factors determining Endurance Performance Ability, in: Holloszy, J. O. [Ed] (1995). Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. Volume 23 American College of Sports Medicine series Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins. 25-63.
Enoksen E, Shalfawi SA, Tønnessen E. (2011) The effect of high- vs. low-intensity training on aerobic capacity in well-trained male middle-distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Mar;25(3):812-8.
Evertsen F, Medbø JI, Bonen A. (2001) Effect of training intensity on muscle lactate transporters and lactate threshold of cross-country skiers. Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Oct;173(2):195-205.
Franch, J., Madsen, K., Djurhuus, M.S. and Pedersen, P.K. (1998). Improved running economy following intensified training correlates with reduced ventilatory demands. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 30 (8), 1250-1256.
Hopker J, Coleman D, Passfield L. (2009) Changes in cycling efficiency during a competitive season. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr;41(4):912-9.
Niess, A., Rocker, K. and Steiacker, J.M. (1992). Training, aerobic lactate threshold and competition results in elite distance runners during a period of two years. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 24 (No 5 Suppl) # 735, pS123.7
Philp A, Macdonald AL, Carter H, Watt PW, Pringle JS. (2008) Maximal lactate steady state as a training stimulus. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Jun;29(6):475-9. Epub 2008 Feb 26.
Priest JW, Hagan RD. (1987) The effects of maximum steady state pace training on running performance. Br J Sports Med. 1987 Mar;21(1):18-21.
Sjodin, B., Jacobs, I. and Svedenhag, J. (1982). Changes in blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) and muscle enzyme after training at OBLA. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 49, 45-57.
Weltman, A., Snead, D., Seip, R., Schurrer, R., Weltman, J., Rutt, R. and Rogol, A. (1990) Percentages of Maximal Heart Rate, Heart Rate Reserve and VO2max for Determining Endurance Training Intensity in Male Runners. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 11, 218-222.