Designing specific training programs based on lack of pyruvate and lactate accumulation has proven to be a very successful concept in the past decade. Such regimes can increase buffering capacity, lactate exchange, and lactate combustion.
Lack of pyruvate
Looking at the lack of pyruvate (LOP) and lactate accumulation curve, there is a point where it curves down to the X-axis. To the left of this point, we have the LOP curve. But before delving deeper into this, lets briefly touch on what “lack of pyruvate” means.
Pyruvate is the fuel that balances with lactate in the muscle, and is the primary fuel that enters the aerobic energy metabolism. At the intensity where LOP is zero (where the curve touches the X-axis), the aerobic metabolism is saturated with pyruvate (or lactate if you wish). This means that the amount of fuel needed in the aerobic metabolism is matched by the available pyruvate/lactate.
At lower intensities, the actual fuel needed is higher then the availability of pyruvate. We therefore we call this zone the lack of pyruvate – LOP. In steady state conditions, where the intensity is steady and the metabolism is adapted to this intensity, this gap of energy has to be filled with another fuel. This fuel primarily comes from fat.
Lactate accumulation However, whenever lactate is available, for example after accumulating from a bout of high intensity exercise, pyruvate is generated out of this lactate and not fat. This then results in a reduction of lactate levels. On the graph, the line to the right of the point where the curve touches the X-axis is where lactate accumulates. The graph shows the increment of lactate per minute at a given intensity. Lactate combustion and lactate shuttling are crucial performance metrics in many sports. This is especially so in interval sports with non-load profiles.
Application in training Designing specific training programs based on LOP and lactate accumulation has proven to be a very successful concept in the past decade. Such regimes can increase buffering capacity, lactate exchange, and lactate combustion.
If we are targeting a specific intensity, based on a particular race or goal we are trying to achieve, choose this intensity from the LOP and lactate accumulation graph. Then I decide the time that the interval should last for. Simply multiplying this time by the actual lactate accumulation value will tell us amount of lactate that is going to accumulate during the effort. By then choosing the interval recovery intensity, we can see how quickly you can combust the accumulated lactate.
With this information, we can then create individual interval programs based on the current physical status of you, and the goals you want to achieve in future.
Increase lactate levels further In addition to an individually designed interval program, you can also add an additional trigger to your lactate shuttling system. Before the start of the first interval, undergo a longer, less intense bout of exercise. By doing so, you can raise lactate levels to a high concentration inside the muscle. The interval training described previously represents a perfect balance between lactate accumulation and lactate combustion. So this means that net lactate change is zero. However, if lactate levels have been elevated before starting the intervals, it is possible to maintain high lactate levels throughout the whole set of exercises. This means more fuel for your athlete. As a practical example, lets briefly assess the impact of a 2 minute effort prior to 10 sets of 1 minute, on/off intervals. After the extra initial effort, lactate can increase up to 10mmol/l. With perfectly balanced interval training, it is easily possible to stay at this level for 20 minutes. No other set up allows your athlete to stay stable at this level for this long