The science of exercise Local/State The Bulletin
I've got an article on my website about lactate testing (click here for article). On pubmed, an online database of scientific studies, there are more than 750 studies pertaining to "lactate threshold", and a google search of the same term gets over 10,000 hits.
Every major high performance center in the world uses lactate testing.
Every modern textbook on exercise makes a reference to lactate testing as standard fair for evaluating current fitness and for tracking progress.
I'm not saying lactate is the only thing to measure.. not at all. It certainly isn't the only value I measure. What I'm saying is lactate is a significant value that dramatically assists a coach/ trainer accurately assess someones fitness and fitness progression.
So why is lactate testing so rarely used in Winnipeg?
I've been doing it for 10 years and I still do more lactate testing than anyone else in the province. Actually, I'm only one of half a handful of people that do it here.
I don't have a good answer for why this but I can tell you why I use it with everyone from first time weight loss clients to my provincial champion cyclists, and of course for evaluating my own training:
Lactate testing significantly reduces guess work. Are you faster because you're motivated to push yourself; or are you faster because you're more fit? Lactate will tell you unequivocally.
Lactate values reflect muscle metabolism. There is no other single measurement currently available that can do this at the low cost and ease of use as lactate sampling.
What should your heart rate be for base conditioning so you don't go too hard or too easy? Lactate will tell you.
In 2008 I was in Toronto upgrading my cycling coaching certification (level 3). Appropriately the course was held at a high performance center. What were the phsyologists doing there? Lactate, heart rate, and power testing. Same thing I do here and have been doing for many, many years. It was gratifying to be in the company of people who take this testing in stride and regularly depend on it. Arriving back in Winnipeg was like coming back to the stone ages. Funny, because Manitoba is actually internationally recognized for being leaders in Hydro Power, manufacturing, medical research, and many other venues including being the home place of some of Canada's best athletes.
Try to find modern lactate testing though you're almost SOL. Aside from me and the University of Manitoba and a few members of Team Woodcock (who I introduced lactate testing to), there really isn't anyone else doing it. You can buy lactate kits at Woodcock Cycle, the ONLY place in Manitoba you can buy lactate kits.
How does a lactate value help me determine the correct intensity for starting an exercise program? Isn't lactate testing for athletes?
I like to say that lactate testing isn't athlete testing it's human testing.
If the beginner doesn't start at the right intensity or increase intensity at the right time by the right amount they'll either miss the opportunity to advance or advance too quickly.
Lactate tells me exactly what this beginning intensity should be and when to change it.
Despite all the science backing up lactate testing the vast majority of coaches and trainers never use lactate testing, or even heart rate monitoring (available since the early 1980's), so I may by comparison appear to be going against the grain.
Really all I am doing is following the research and employing the most comprehensive and easy to use science based methods for prescribing exercise; and making this available to who ever wants it in Winnipeg.. and why not. You can get it in any major city all around the world.
I get the sense that I'm trying to get ashore against a strong tide on it's way out. So while others are still riding the old wave of cookie cutter heart rate formula's and trumpeting their cause, I'm almost drowned out. But that doesn't deter me, and don't let it deter you.
Check it out. Lactate testing really is a significant tool that all coaches and trainers should be using in addition to heart rate and learning to interpret perceived exertion.
You could stumble along without the Internet, without email, and without a cellphone or even telephone. Try to function in any company without these modern tools. This is where you are at exercise wise if you're not using lactate and heart rate. It really is that significant. :-)