We do lactate testing to measure the development of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and to evaluate training practices and to determine if new training protocols are needed. Training becomes much more efficient when you perform workouts that have the desired adaptations.
Your body produces energy that your muscles use to contract and produce motion. You produce that energy aerobically and anaerobically. The more efficient system is the aerobic system, but the anaerobic system produces energy more quickly. But with speed comes cost! You never just use one energy system but you can certainly train yourself rely more on one than the other. Balancing the two systems will determine the physiological performance of the athlete.
When you start to pedal your bike with intensity you start to realize that after a certain amount of time your legs begin to burn. And that is because your body cannot keep up with the energy demands you are placing upon it and lactate is starting to accumulate in your muscles. If you continue to push hard, eventually you will simply be forced to slow down. The amount of lactate in your muscles and in your blood at any given moment is a function of effort level, aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity and clearance/removal ability. And it isn’t the lactate that’s actually causing the problems, it’s the hydrogen ions. When lactate is produced in the muscles, excess hydrogen ions are produced with the lactate. If there is substantial accumulation, the muscles become very acidic from the hydrogen ions. These hydrogen ions cause problems with the contraction of muscles for exercise and interfere with the anaerobic process.
Cycling is a sport of many details. The building blocks of a good performance – be it at the Tour de France or a weekend hammer fest with good friends, are many. The right equipment, quality of sleep, a good diet, etc. are important blocks. But the cornerstone of optimal performance is physiological training. It won’t matter how awesome your bike is, how much sleep you’ve had or how well balanced your diet is if you can’t meet the energy demands of your event. If you are preparing for an event, your primary physiological objective should be to maximize the rate of energy release for that event.
Three good reasons for lactate testing:
Assess the capacity of the energy systems within the muscles
Know/understand how the profile is changing over time
Set individual training intensities for each type of workout
Our training protocols are aimed at:
Optimizing the development of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems
Increasing the ability to clear/remove lactate from muscles
Reducing the amount of energy needed to complete an action or a movement (efficiency)