Lactate Testing

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Lactate measurement is far more precise than the outdated and inaccurate method of using percentages of maximum heart rate to set training zones. Because heart rate is an individual response, heart rate training zones need to be determined by measurement of physiological variables not set by mathematical formulas.

What is Lactate?

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 at the muscle, lactate can be measured to evaluate physical performance or to establish proper exercise intensity of exercise for athletes.

What do we use to Test Lactate?

The Lactate Pro is the meter of choice world wide for elite teams and sport scientists for both for monitoring athlete training and sport research.


Performance Step Test of Speed or Wattage Vs. Heart Rate

This part of the test has a fairly linear section and is used to compare performance changes over time. One can see at a glance how the athlete has improved his or her performance over the years. This test must always be done on the same equipment identically set up in order to make the comparison. This test is done in three-minute steps, the wattage is held constant for the three minutes and the heart rate is taken at the end of the three-minute step. The complete test consists of approximately eight steps.

Lactate Balance Point Test

In this portion of the test, the ‘curve’ of Lactate versus Heart Rate is plotted on the same graph as the linear “step test”. The curve actually illustrates the progress of lactate clearance. The first blood lactate is taken immediately following the last point of the Performance Step test. After this, the steps are four minutes long, but the Athlete is asked to work with a fixed heart rate (not wattage) since we want a curve of Lactate versus Heart Rate.

The effort during the four-minute steps will actually vary but the heart rate must remain fairly constant. Steps are four minutes long at a constant heart rate with a lactate check at the end of each step. The first step is at a heart rate approximately 40 beats below the high effort. Then we begin to increase the effort in small steps in order to find where lactate accumulation begins. The steps are in 5-10 beat increments.


Depending on the goal of the athlete, and the training phase they are in, it may be necessary to repeat the FACT test every 4 to 8 weeks. The Lactate Balance Point Heart Rate may change with training. It usually will increase as the athlete becomes more fit, however, fatigue can produce a drop in the LBP heart rate. The LBP heart rate is depressed by a high intensity effort such as a race. After a hard race the LBP will be significantly lower and takes 2-3 days to recover to the pre-race level. Training should be at 20-30 beats below the pre-race LBP heart rate for at least two days following a race to promote recovery.

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