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When it comes to endurance training of any sort, you will hear the terms lactate threshold (LT) and VO2 max bandied around a lot. The question is; what are they, and more importantly, why should they matter to you?

There are a number of metrics that have an influence on athletic performance, but LT and VO2 are arguably two of the most important. Knowing your max numbers for both of these will help to make your training more efficient and can help you when it comes to doing your best at your chosen sport.

Not only do these number matter when it comes to general health and fitness, but they are also incredibly useful for those competing in their chosen sport should that be cycling, running or any other cardio vascular endurance activity.

What is lactate threshold?

When you exercise, lactate enters the bloodstream during the process of your body attempting to break down glucose for energy production. These levels rise when intensity increases, and energy demands are no longer fully met by aerobic energy systems. The process prevents intensities in your body from remaining high for too long. When you train your body to better withstand intense forms of exercise, this allows you to perform harder and longer.

Your LT level is usually determined by your ability to endure 40-60 minutes of steady effort. It is measured using power, heart rate, or even your pace when the volume of lactate in the blood reaches mmol/L, an accurate definition of your LT will help you to tailor your training to your current level of fitness and help improve your efficiency whilst reducing the risk of illness and injury. 

What is VO2 max?

VO2 is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen per minute that any sportsperson is able to capture from the air, before fixing it at a pulmonary level and then transporting and utilising it. Efforts that you make when you are at your VO2 max are above your LT, and it is possible to hold them for between 6 – 10 minutes (depending on genetics and the amount of training). Whilst many consider VO2 max to be the top metric for training, it is, in fact, less trainable than LT, as any improvements can be linked to changing body weight.

The VO2 max of the average person is 35 mL/kg/min, which means that for every kilogram of body weight, 35 millilitres of oxygen is used every minute whilst at rest. This figure is 20-40 mL/kg/min whilst running, and for those athletes who are elite in their fields, between  65-80 mL/kg/min and 90 mL/kg/min. These figures can be anywhere between 5-15% lower for females.

While Pilates will not improve your LT or VO2 max it will improve your mobility, strength, and alignment which in turn will allow you to push yourself further and reach a better LT and VO2 max.

 Why not check out my classes to see how they could help you?