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Testing Blood Lactate Threshold

Posted by Stephen Regenold on Jun 2, 2008 10:07:27 PM


This feature story -- -- details my experience undergoing a blood lactate threshold test, where a fitness trainer put me on a treadmill and pricked my fingertip repeatedly for blood samples. The goal was to determine my lactic acid threshold, the point at which I start to "feel the burn."


Professional athletes, notably Nordic skiers and endurance-sports competitors, have sought blood lactate tests for more than a decade. Alongside fitness identifiers such as body mass index, VO2 max (aerobic capacity), heart rate and body composition tests, a blood lactate profile helps prescribe workout regimens individualized for the physiological makeup and fitness level of each athlete on a roster.






Indeed, blood lactate readings can distill the efficiency of exercise to a cellular level, providing a peek at the inner workings of millions of muscle cells, where oxygen, enzymes, glycogen, lactic acid and other infinitesimals mix to pound out movement and power. Trainers and coaches take test results and apply them to heart-rate-based workouts structured for maximum physical efficiency.


"It's about training smarter, not harder," said Ben Popp, a former semi-pro skier who coached college athletes for five seasons. "The goal with any workout should be to do the minimal amount of work possible to elicit the physiological response that you need to make a difference."


With such claims, blood lactate tests are just now entering the mainstream fitness vernacular. Popp says everyday exercisers, recreational athletes and dieters can benefit from the precise fitness plans generated by a lactate profile.


"People who work 50 or 60 hours a week and have just a few hours for fitness can increase their productivity," Popp added.


See the rest of my story, "Testing Blood Lactate Threshold," here. . .



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