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April 06, 2020 1 min read

Lactate threshold is a common term thrown around in endurance sports but many athletes don’t have a full understanding of what it means.

Without that proper understanding, runners, cyclists and swimmers alike are more likely to push too hard and fail to hit the right intensity for a threshold workout, meaning the objective of the session does not get accomplished.

To help paint the full picture, Built for Athletes explains what lactate threshold is and provides training techniques to improve it.

Lactate Threshold Explained

The definition of lactate threshold is the intensity of exercise at which lactate builds up in the blood at a quicker rate than it can be removed.

Lactate is produced when the body breaks down glucose to fuel muscles. While it can be broken down by the liver and created into more fuel, if it builds up to unmanageable levels it can harm exercise performance.

That’s why competitive athletes try to increase their tolerance of it.

How Can You Improve Lactate Threshold Through Training?

By performing exercise at or just above your lactate threshold, you can train your body to improve its ability to clear lactate from the blood, meaning that your lactate threshold comes at a higher intensity. 

This is obviously extremely beneficial for performance.

In running, lactate threshold is often described as a pace you could hold for about an hour in racing conditions.

Example Training Sessions

3 x 10 minutes at Lactate Threshold pace, with a one-minute active recovery between reps.

Steady-state session of 30 minutes at lactate threshold.

5 x 5minutes at Lactate Threshold pace, with a one-minute active recovery between reps.


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