Lactate Threshold Testing

What is the Lactate Threshold?

The lactate threshold is the point at which, during incremental exercise, lactate builds up in the blood stream at a level that is higher than resting values. The lactate threshold is a good predictor of submaximal fitness (e.g. what exercise pace can maintained over a prolonged period of time without fatigue). Athletes typically reach lactate threshold at a higher percentage of VO2max.

Lactate threshold (LT) training is a popular method of improving endurance performance. Recreational and serious athletes may use their lactate threshold to determine how to train and what sort of a pace they can maintain during endurance sports.

Measuring Lactate ThresholdYSI lactate-glucose analyzer

In the lab, we measure lactate threshold by drawing blood at intervals during an incremental exercise test. This test is performed in a similar manner to VO2 Max testing and uses either a treadmill or stationary bike. The exercise intensity is increased in periods of about 3 minutes and blood samples are taken at the end of each period.

Lactate Threshold Values

  • The average person reaches their lactate threshold at ~50-60 percent of their VO2 max
  • Recreational athletes reach their lactate threshold at 65-80 percent their VO2 max
  • Elite endurance athletes reach their lactate threshold at 85-95 percent their VO2 max