Are You In The Proper Training Zone?

by Jeff Ransome BSc.Kin ACSM(ES) ACE(PT)

For years, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have been relying on a commonly used mathematical formula (HR = (Max HR-Resting HR)* %X/100) + RHR (where %X =%MAX, e.g. 60) to determine their training intensities for high performance conditioning or weight control. Although almost all name brand industrial cardio fitness equipment displays training zones based on this mathematical formula, the latest research show that this is flawed. So how do you optimize and take the guess work out of training? Training intensities too light or minimal stimuli have negligible results. Training levels too high can result in a premature depletion of glycogen (approximately 2000 kcal of carbohydrates). Consequently, the body will hit its proverbial wall once glycogen is depleted.

Blood Lactate measurement is used by sport scientists, coaches and athletes to accurately determine heart rate training zones, recovery and much more.  Lactate is a metabolic product that can be measured by taking a drop of blood at a finger tip the same way diabetics monitor their blood sugar level.  The blood lactate level increases with exercise intensity and shows clearly the transition from aerobic to anaerobic activity.  Since the measurement is completely individual it gives a precise method for testing and monitoring training intensity and recovery. Lactate is mainly produced at muscle cells, erythrocytes and brain cells, and metabolized by the liver. Lactate is an end product of anaerobic glucose metabolism and plays an important role in the acid-base balance in the body. As lactate concentration increases in the blood during exercises due to lack of oxygen of the muscle, lactate can be measured to evaluate physical performance or to establish proper exercise intensity for athletes. Blood Lactate testing is far more precise than the outdated and inaccurate method of using percentages of maximum heart rate to set training zones.  Heart rate is an individual response; therefore heart rate training zones need to be determined by measurement of physiological variables, not set by mathematical formulas.  Furthermore, the relationship between exercise intensity and heart rate is different for various exercises. For example, heart rate for running will not be the same as a heart rate for cycling at any given intensity.  Training programs should not be based on general heart rate guidelines; rather they should be based on individual responses.

Take the guesswork out of training. Know when you should be sub-lactate for endurance or supra-lactate during periodization and at which point the body develops high levels of acidosis. Whether training for your first 5k or full IronMan, maximize your time and efforts with the proper tools and knowledge to obtain your goals.

For more information on Lactate Balance Point testing contact Jeff Ransome at Sports Performance Centres … PERFORM BETTER !!!


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