Lactate Threshold Training: Train Smarter Go Farther!

The lactate threshold is a point during exhaustive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it. At this point it is difficult to continue exercise.

Lactate threshold can be increased greatly with training. If an exerciser has a higher lactate threshold (LT) they can continue at a high-intensity effort with a longer time to exhaustion.

Estimating Lactate Threshold

  • A blood test performed during exercise provides a valid measure.
  • A simple test to estimate your lactate threshold is to perform a 30-minute time trial at a high, sustained pace. Your average heart rate during the final 20 minutes should correspond to your LT.
  • “McGehee, Tanner and Hourmar  have validated a user-friendly LT assessment field method with a 30-minute running (or speed walking) exercise bout. Initially, have the client do a five- to 10-minute low-intensity warm-up. Then, have the client run (or speed walk) as fast he or she can for 30 minutes at a 1% grade. The average running speed is deemed the LT (in speed), while the average heart rate (collected every five minutes) during the 30-minute test is the heart rate at LT. Have the client repeat this field test every few months to track progress. Your expectations are that the client will increase his or her running speed while exercising at the same (or similar) heart-rate intensity, thus confirming improvements in LT. Source:

Proper training to increase lactate threshold means increasing your exercise intensity so you train at or just above your LT heart rate.

There are two simple ways to help increase your LT. This training can be interval training or steady training.

Note: Only do these two plans if you have been doing cardiovascular exercise regularly (at least 4 days a week) for six months and you have physician clearance. Always warm up with 5- 10 minutes of light effort cardio before this type of training.

    • Interval LT Training
      Sample Plan: Twice a week perform three to five 10 minute high effort  intervals at 95-105 percent of your LT heart rate with three minutes of  rest between intervals.
    • Steady State LT Training
      Sample Plan: Twice a week perform one 20-30 minute high intensity effort at 95-105 percent of your LT heart rate.


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