Interpreting Shifts in Blood Lactate Profiles

Dr Dan Plews & Ed Maunder


In this blog, we are going to provide a little detail for athletes and practitioners on how to interpret changes in blood lactate parameters and profiles derived from serial laboratory-based lactate threshold assessments. These assessments typically involve exercising initially at a very low workload, considerably below the aerobic threshold, with heart rate and blood lactate concentration recorded prior to an increase in workload every 3-4 minutes (although these ‘steps’ can be longer). These steps are repeated until exhaustion. Expired gases may be collected throughout, and these can provide insight into movement economy, substrate utilization, and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). The tests are typically performed for (i) training zone identification and (ii) monitoring adaptations to training.


Classic rightward and leftward shifts

Below we have a textbook rightward-shift in the blood lactate vs. power output curve, which we...

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