Cycling is a sport that requires both endurance and speed, and in order to improve both of these factors, it's important to understand how lactate threshold (LT) works. LT is the point during exercise where lactate production exceeds lactate clearance, leading to a buildup of lactate in the muscles and blood. In cycling, lactate threshold is an important physiological marker of performance, and understanding the two types of LT - LT1 and LT2 - can help cyclists train more effectively and improve their overall performance.
Joe Friel, a well-known endurance sports coach, describes LT1 as the point where lactate begins to accumulate in the blood, but is still being cleared at a relatively rapid rate. At this intensity, cyclists can sustain exercise for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued. LT2, on the other hand, is the point where lactate accumulation exceeds lactate clearance, resulting in increased fatigue and reduced endurance.
Training at or just below LT1 can help improve a cyclist's endurance by increasing their ability to sustain exercise for longer periods of time. This type of training is often done through longer, steady-state efforts. On the other hand, training at or above LT2 can help improve a cyclist's speed and ability to sustain high-intensity efforts. This type of training is often done through shorter, high-intensity intervals.
Understanding your personal LT1 and LT2 can help you tailor your training program to meet your individual needs and goals. A lactate threshold test can be performed by a qualified coach or sports scientist to determine your LT1 and LT2 values. Once you know your LT values, you can use them to create a more effective training plan and monitor your progress over time.
In summary, lactate threshold is an important physiological marker of cycling performance, and understanding the differences between LT1 and LT2 can help cyclists train more effectively. By tailoring your training to your individual LT values, you can improve both your endurance and speed, and ultimately achieve your cycling goals.