Lactate Threshold Cycling – How To Train Lactate Threshold?
In this article, we talk about the basics of Lactate Threshold Cycling workouts and how to train your Lactate Threshold to make you a better cyclist.
Lactate Threshold Cycling – A Complete Guide
You have often heard the words lactate threshold in cycling, especially if you follow a cycling training plan or have a cycling coach. For many years athletes believed that lactic acid was the cause of that burning sensation in their legs. So what does the science say?
Lactate is scientifically known as l-lactate which is produced by the muscles when exercising. Sports literature often notes that the body does produce Lactic Acid, yet recently scientists believe that the body doesn’t produce significant amounts of Lactic Acid at all. These scientists also note that the general term of lactic acid in sports is misused.
While this is debatable in the sporting world, the production of Lactate is a real phenomenon and plays a large part in how the muscles metabolize energy.
So what does the term Lactate Threshold in cycling mean for you?
First of all, during high-intensity training, the body sees a dramatic rise in blood lactate. So improving your Lactate Threshold plays a large part in your ability to ride at a high intensity. The good news is that it is highly trainable and can be improved with the right cycling training plan and workouts.
Threshold Cycling Training – How It Works?
There are lots of theories on threshold cycling training and how to improve power at Lactate threshold. But we can all agree that most of the training should be done at or just above your LT and over varying amounts of time.
It is important to note that most cyclists can’t sustain more than two sessions per week when trying to improve threshold. Training at this intensity is very taxing on the body and can often lead to fatigue and loss of form if overdone.
Lactate threshold cycling workouts should ideally contain around 25-45 minutes of total work around your Threshold. When beginning these types of workouts it is important to build the duration over continuous weeks. So starting with a total of 25 minutes at lactate threshold and increasing this each week is a good starting point.
During these weeks of LT cycling training, you can focus on increasing the duration. Once you have reached a total duration of around 45-60 minutes you can then dial back the duration and increase the effort slightly above your threshold.
These types of threshold workouts should be broken into blocks of effort. So when starting it is important to aim for blocks of 5-10 minutes with a recovery of 3-5 minutes between. Again as you come more accustomed to these workouts you can increase these blocks from 5-10 minutes to 15 or 20-minute threshold blocks.
Remember to achieve the correct power at lactate it is important not to go into the session overcooked from a previous session. Make sure you plan for an easier day before these workouts.
How To Train Lactate Threshold?
Learning how to train Lactate Threshold effectively is relatively easy. There are numerous ways to increase this and depends on what part of the season you are in and your current fitness level
High Volume Training
One of the best ways to improve your lactate threshold is to increase overall training volume on the bike. The benefit of increasing the training volume is the increased capacity for mitochondrial respiration which is a large part of lactate improvement.
Specific Lactate Threshold Workouts
As mentioned earlier in this article, training specifically at or above Lactate threshold can see a rapid improvement. These types of workouts (e.g. 2-3 x 10minutes) provide specificity and is the most specific way to improve your lactate threshold on a bike.
If your training volume is low, then the amount of threshold duration will need to be lower than another person with greater training volume. For most cyclists, the total training volume of this intensity should make up for around 5-10% of their total training volume.
Planning Threshold Workouts into Training
With most of our athletes, we coach we split apart the workouts during the week. This means specific Lactate threshold workouts are done either on a Tuesday and Thursday, or Wednesday and Saturday. This then provides us we 1-2 days between workouts to allow for recovery and some easy mileage or speed skills.
Early in the season we work slightly lower than their Lactate Threshold and build up the total duration at that intensity. Meaning workouts start at 10-minute efforts and build up to continuous 20-minute repeats. Once we have spent a certain amount of duration at that intensity, we then roll back the duration and increase the workouts to an intensity at Lactate Threshold. Then building up the duration at that intensity over the coming weeks, just like when we started.
During this time there are recovery weeks built into the plan and during those weeks the athlete is tested to track improvements and then adjustments are made based on the results.
Increase Lactate Threshold – What It Means?
It is possible to increase Lactate Threshold on the bike with specific workouts written in this article. Training at or around your Threshold will provide the training adaptions that will help delay the onset of blood Lactate. It also helps improves the heart’s capacity to deliver more oxygen to the muscles and increase the ability to use it once delivered.
Lactate Threshold Training Cycling Workouts
There are multiple Lactate Threshold Training Cycling Workouts you can do. The type of workout ultimately depends on the time of season you are in and your current fitness start.
Remember to warm up for a minimum of 15 minutes, and during the warm-up try to include some short efforts at or above LT. It is also wise to vary the cadence during the warm-up. Make sure you have access to a power meter or heart rate monitor to regulate your effort.
LT Tempo – After your warm-up ride for 30-40 minutes at 5-8% below your LT power or 10 beats below your LT Heart rate.
LT Efforts – Warm up for 20 minutes with some short efforts at or above your LT. Then do 3-4×10 minutes at 100% of your LT Heart Rate or Power Threshold
Hill Repeats – Find a climb that is 3-8 minutes long and after your warm-up do 3-5 efforts up the climb at 100% of your LT Heart Rate or Threshold Power.
Time Trials – Shorter time trials of around 10 miles are a great way to increase your threshold and are often planned weekly during the season. These time trials are also a great way to test your current fitness.
These are just a few basic Lactate Threshold training cycling workouts to give you an idea of the workouts needed to improve your LT. Remember these workouts need to be specific to the time of the season and be planned correctly in your periodization.