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Lactate test: what it is for, how it is performed and how it is evaluated
L'lactic acid or lactate is a catabolite produced by muscle contraction.
As physical effort increases, the production of lactate by our body increases: excess lactic acid accumulates in the blood causing muscle pain.
In a situation of excessive lactic acid, the athlete will be forced to interrupt the effort or reduce the intensity of the exercise: this exercise intensity is defined anaerobic threshold.
The lactate test it is considered by the whole world of sport to be the most accurate of all to accurately determine the athlete's anaerobic threshold.
The lactate test protocol, an evolution of Mader test, was already studied at the end of the eighties by Dr. Faraggiana and by prof. Gigliotti.
Lactate test: what it is for
The lactate test is used to measure heart rate and heart rate corresponding to 2 mmo / L lactate and 4 mmo / L lactate.
The values that emerge from the test for 2 mmo / l of lactate should be the speed at which the marathon must be run.
Lactate test: how to do it
Performing the lactate test requires a considerable training base: you will have to run the distance of 2 km on the track for about 4/6 times at a constant speed, with each series you have to increase the speed to cover the distance with 10 seconds less.
During the lactate test the athlete wears a heart rate monitor and at the end of each series a drop of blood is taken from the earlobe: this drop of blood is inserted into a special analyzer that provides the amount of lactic acid produced after each individual test.
To ensure that the athlete maintains the same speed throughout the 2 km course, a system of acoustic signals is used: a cone is positioned every twenty meters that emits a sound, if the athlete maintains his speed constant he will be in proximity of the cone whenever the latter emits sound.
Lactate test: variants
You should know that the lactate test does not necessarily have to be carried out on the track: a variant is the use of Tapis Roulant.
Set the treadmill with a 1% gradient in 4-minute steps: at each step increase the speed by 1 km / h or 0.5 (depending on which unit of measurement your treadmill has).
Lactate test: how to read the curve
Reading the lactate test curve is very simple: as the speed increases, the lactic acid in our body increases.
During a marathon the lactate curve is much flatter than the 400m run where you run a lap at maximum speed.
Lactate test: strengths and weaknesses
Among the main advantages of this test there is certainly the simplicity of execution in its variant with the treadmill.
I remind you that it would be better to do it on the track from the moment it is easier to optimize the running technique.
The defect of the lactate test on the treadmill is that the evaluation can be affected by the inappropriate running economy caused by the fact that you do not run on the track, on the contrary if the test is carried out on the track the problem is the preparation of the equipment for maintaining speed.
Lactate test: final considerations
We can question the limit point where we pass from an aerobic to anaerobic mechanism.
In fact, this value is nothing more than “the stationary maximum of lactate”: the value representing the speed at which a certain amount of lactic acid can be kept for at least 20 minutes without it accumulating.
The data you really care about is the VR: reference speed.
Calculating it is simple: join the first and last points of the graph curve to form a D, then from the middle of the line that joins the two points, another line is drawn up to the most distant point of the graph curve.
Going to cross the abscissa axis we finally have the VR value that interests us: that is the speed at the anaerobic threshold.
The lactate test is an excellent method to calculate the VR but it is recommended for advanced runners, for those who are beginners or who do not obtain great results, the Conconi test. Another useful test to periodically measure your fitness but also before starting a training plan with a set goal is the Cooper's test.