What's The Fastest Way To Increase Lactate Threshold?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses what lactate threshold is, what lactate is and isn't, and the best ways to train to increase your lactate threshold.

The Best Way To Improve Lactate Threshold

Good morning, family of fast. Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. Have you ever wondered what the fastest way is to increase lactate threshold? That is what we are going to discuss today.

Lactate Threshold Defined

So, by definition, lactate threshold is the speed of movement or percentage of VO2 Max in which blood lactate concentrations begin to rise above resting levels.

Now, that's a lot of geek speak.

So, generally speaking, lactate threshold occurs at about 80 to 89% of VO2 Max.

What Is Lactate And How It Is Produced

Now, let's talk a little bit about lactate, what it is, and what it isn't. And to understand lactate, you have to understand one of the energy systems in the body, anaerobic glycolysis.

Now, you'll use this system during things like interval training and during lactate threshold training.

So, what happens during anaerobic glycolysis is glucose and glycogen is broken down to provide energy.

Now, one of the by-products of the breakdown of this glucose and glycogen is something called pyruvate. Also during anaerobic glycolysis, you're gonna see hydrogen ion start to accumulate and cause an acidic environment in the muscle.


Now, here's where it gets really cool. Pyruvate actually absorbs these hydrogen ions to form lactate.

And what's even cooler is this lactate can be shuttled back into the mitochondria to produce more energy.

So, lactate is not lactic acid, it's not the same thing. And you can think of this whole system as a muscle acidity buffering system.

What Is Lactic Acid?

Now, where lactic acid comes in is where pyruvate can't keep up with the absorption of the hydrogen ions, and that is when lactic acid is formed and you'll feel that burning sensation in your muscle and you'll start to tire out.

So, now that we have a little bit of background about lactate threshold and lactate, what is the fastest way to increase it?

There Is No "Fast" Way To Increase Lactate Threshold

Now, I'm sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but there is no fast way to increase lactate threshold. It takes time.

So, let's discuss this a little bit using a running program as an example. Now, if you're just starting out in a running program, basically anything you're gonna do is gonna increase lactate threshold slightly.

Whether that's long slow runs or long slow runs coupled with walking and rest periods. But as you get more advanced in your running program, you're gonna wanna include two training methods to increase lactate threshold.

The Two Workouts You Can Use To Improve Lactate Threshold

Workout #1: Tempo Runs

The first is tempo runs. Now, what are tempo runs? Well, tempo runs are performed right at lactate threshold.

So, whatever that corresponds to for your specific VO2 Max or right at race pace. Now, tempo runs can vary from anywhere from 20 minutes up to an hour depending on what you're training for.

Tempo Run Example

So, as an example of a tempo run, you would warm up for 10 minutes, you would perform your tempo pace or lactate threshold pace for 20 to 30 minutes, and then you would cool down for 10 to 15 minutes.

And again, this is really dependent on the type of distance you're training for. Obviously, if you're training for a 5K, you want to do a lactate threshold or a tempo run for about 20 to 30 minutes.

If you're doing it for a marathon, it's not uncommon for people to do tempo runs up to an hour to an hour and a half. So, that's training method number one to increase lactate threshold.

Workout #2: Cruise Intervals

The next one is something called cruise intervals. Now, this was popularized by Jack Daniels. No, not the whiskey maker, the famous running coach.

Cruise Interval Example

So, cruise intervals are a variation of a tempo run, but you're kind of breaking it up into segments.

So, for example, during cruise intervals, you'll do a segment, say, for example, five minutes at your lactate threshold, you'll jog for a minute, and then you repeat that over and over again until you get the number of repetitions you want.

Again, if you're training for a 5K, four to five of these cruise intervals might suffice at four to five minutes a piece. And if you're training for a marathon, you're gonna wanna do a whole lot more.

If Your Lactate Threshold Workouts Feel To Easy, Increase Duration And NOT Intensity

Now, it's important to know with lactate threshold training that you don't wanna go faster than your prescribed pace.

If your lactate threshold or tempo run or cruise intervals feel way too easy, don't increase the intensity, increase the duration because you're really trying to train that specific system.

So, that is all I have on lactate threshold, lactate, and the best way to train lactate threshold.

Now, if you haven't had a chance, check out my video on the fastest way to increase VO2 Max. And if you want other videos like this, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com.

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