Lactate threshold test protocol

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Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:15 pm

I have a lactate testing kit here and am interested in conducting a home based test on a trainer using a ramp test protocol and a willing assistant to determine my threshold. Does anyone have any experience-based advice around this including on a good protocol to use and how best to interpret the results?

I am realistic and not expecting to achieve a clinical-quality repeatable test simply because I do not have easy access to a clinical environment but am wondering if I can get a pretty good approximation doing this with a friend.

Any advice welcome :-)
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by BNA » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:26 pm

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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby foo on patrol » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:26 pm

Sorry, I can't help but an interesting question. :wink:
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:45 pm

I have some idea - 15min warm up and into ramp test, increase resistance every 3mins and take heart rate and lactate readings at each change in resistance and plot on chart and keep going until exhaustion or well over 4mmol. Look for obvious inflection in lactate plot for threshold but if that's not there you can look for a general, exponential build up of lactate or just use 4mmol as the threshold (which seems a bit dodgy to me) :-) Anyway, have some test strips on the way from the UK so will give it a bash in a week or two when they arrive. I will report back ...
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:46 pm

I suppose my question is:
What exactly are you trying to achieve?
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:34 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:I suppose my question is:
What exactly are you trying to achieve?


Work out my lactate threshold heart rate to use for determining appropriate heart rate training zones (Joe Friel). I currently use standard zones calculated using Karvonen (based on my max observed HR (181bpm) and resting (58bpm)) but am always wondering if they are right. Am going to ride Joe Friels lactate threshold field test this afternoon subject to the temperature getting well below the current 36 degrees and see what that turns up but I think I have a pretty fair idea based on my riding to date.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:05 pm

triangle wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:I suppose my question is:
What exactly are you trying to achieve?


Work out my lactate threshold heart rate to use for determining appropriate heart rate training zones (Joe Friel).

All you need do is ride a time trial of say 30-min or more, and record HR. Take average for final 20-minutes or so. Set training levels from that. Job done.

If in training you find the levels are too easy/hard (e.g. you do some threshold interval work but keep cracking before you can complete the efforts), then just adjust them up or down as case may be. HR response is so variable day to day anyway that you'll just be somewhere around a level, rather than a specific HR.

No need to spend $500-1000 on lactate test kit and supplies. If you are going to go to that trouble, then you might want some analysis software as well, although they don't often explain how they come up with the results for training levels. Far better off putting that sort of money towards a power meter.

Just remember that BL testing, depending on how it's done, can be pretty unreliable/inconsistent.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby Xponti » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:13 pm

Chris Carmichael uses an 8 minute TT repeated and the higher HR/Watts of the two TT's (can be done on a trainer). You need to leave it all on the road for each one, and there is a 10min rest between. If you are doing a straight line TT you can use the 10 min to get back to the start. I use the Canning Highway Bridge to Narrows Bridge PSP in Perth. Seems about the right distance, is flat, no traffic (if done early in the morning) and is repeatable.

I have used this for training zones under his book The Time Crunched Cyclist. I don't have a power meter and HR seems to be working for me atm.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:41 pm

Yep, the 30min test with the 20min average is what i am planning on doing. I live up in the Perth hills which makes a decent course a bit tricky to find but I have a relatively flat section near where I live that I think I can use with some success. I have Carmichael's book as well as a few of Friels and am interested in running his TT test, too.

The lactate kit was free so all I really need is the strips .. am curious more than anything to try it.

Thanks for your advice ...
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:29 pm

30 min TT done - average of 171bpm (final 20mins) which is 95% of my *observed* max HR (I am 41 years old and 181bpm is the highest I have ever seen my HR and that was whilst slogging up a hill - it may not be my real max, who knows). The TT was quite an experience after having done almost nothing but 1300kms of unexciting base building riding since mid January this year. It was very rewarding pushing myself hard for 30 minutes and I was surprised how long I could sustain such a hard effort.

I have felt for the past month or so that my zones have not been right - they have felt far, far too easy ie. zone 2 (endurance) felt like zone 1 (active recovery) and I had to get right up into zone 3 before I saw my breathing begin to change and I felt I was actually making an effort. A lactate threshold of 171bpm sets my zone much higher than I have been using of late and perhaps that's appropriate ....

Any comments welcome .. i am new to this and still learning.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby DanielS » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:42 am

It sounds like your Max HR is actually higher than 181. If that was obtained while slogging it up a hill, was it truly a maximum effort? Typically if you reach Max HR you can barely pedal afterwards and breath is incredibly ragged, etc. To reach Max HR is difficult, and requires gradually ramping up the effort until you feel like you are at maximum, and then going even harder....! My guess is that your real maximum is higher than 181, which also explains why your previous zones felt a bit easy.

Never mind though, basing your HR zones off your lactate threshold makes more sense (because your LTHR can vary as a % of Max HR). So stick with that.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:14 am

Thanks, Daniel ... you are likely right about my MaxHR ... I have probably never pushed myself as hard as I could possibly go simply because at my age that's probably not wise :-) Ok, I will use my LTHR as worked out by the test. The zones that come out of that (using Friel) correlate much more closely with my perceived effort so at least now endurance base building rides will feel as if some effort is involved :-)
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:51 pm

triangle wrote:Thanks, Daniel ... you are likely right about my MaxHR ... I have probably never pushed myself as hard as I could possibly go simply because at my age that's probably not wise :-) Ok, I will use my LTHR as worked out by the test. The zones that come out of that (using Friel) correlate much more closely with my perceived effort so at least now endurance base building rides will feel as if some effort is involved :-)

Provided you don't have any medical conditions or family history of cardiac disease, then I wouldn't be too concerned about the max HR stuff. I have a client older than you with a HRmax of 202 bpm. Any concerns of course and see your doctor. I'd say yours is probably closer to 190.

You may find in training that HR doesn't elevate as much as in a race/test where you are highly motivated - main thing is you now have reset levels, and if they seem too hard or easy, well just adjust them from there. And they are levels - there's a day to day variability in HR reponse, so keep that in mind. As you are discovering, using perceived exertion is actually a really good guide.
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Re: Lactate threshold test protocol

Postby triangle » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:24 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Provided you don't have any medical conditions or family history of cardiac disease, then I wouldn't be too concerned about the max HR stuff. I have a client older than you with a HRmax of 202 bpm. Any concerns of course and see your doctor. I'd say yours is probably closer to 190.

You may find in training that HR doesn't elevate as much as in a race/test where you are highly motivated - main thing is you now have reset levels, and if they seem too hard or easy, well just adjust them from there. And they are levels - there's a day to day variability in HR reponse, so keep that in mind. As you are discovering, using perceived exertion is actually a really good guide.


Thanks, Alex - I have just recently been through the medical wringer and had just about every aspect of my body checked after a poorly considered medication plan dreamt up by my doctor went horribly wrong. Had plenty of ECGs and all good.

The new levels seem much better .. just did two hours in my new zone 2 for endurance and I had to make a bit of an effort this time, more so right at the top of the zone and my breathing was just slightly elevated and would begin to pick up properly as I crossed into zone 3. Felt just right. Added a few hill reps on at the end for good measure so an excellent Sunday afternoon on the bike.
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