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Farther Faster: How Monitoring Lactate Biomarkers Can Unlock Potential

By Shannon Grady- Physiologist

February 15, 2024

For decades, lactate was demonized as the culprit behind muscle fatigue, its rising levels associated with the dreaded "burning" sensation during exercise. Fortunately, the tide is turning, scientists, coaches, and athletes are now recognizing the value of lactate as the KEY to understanding metabolism and performance. More are recognizing lactate as a valuable metabolic fuel and a powerful tool for optimizing metabolism, training, and performance. Monitoring and analysis of one’s lactate profile can unlock a wealth of insights to optimizing physiology and achieving peak potential.

Shifting the Paradigm: Lactate as an Ally, Not an Enemy

Traditionally, blood lactate levels served as a simple marker of exercise intensity. However, over 20 years of testing and analysis of over 1 million physiological profile (PPT) or lactate profile tests, has revealed lactate’s amazing multifaceted nature. Lactate is not a waste product; it is the human energy currency and it is an energy source for muscles, especially during high-intensity efforts. Lactate is the epitome of recycling, a miraculous molecule that keeps on giving…IF one trains it properly.  Additionally, monitoring changes in one’s PPT which also measures one’s physiological range, or the difference between the maximum net lactate and minimum net lactate output can provide information about:

  • Energy Status: Monitoring individual lactate levels will indicate whether training loads are appropriate and fueling is adequate

  • Training Load Optimization: Identifying individual lactate profiles helps athletes train at specific volume and intensities for optimal physiological development and performance improvements, whether building endurance, speed, maximizing power, or neuromuscular accuracy.

  • Recovery Status: Performing a PPT on a regular basis, ideally every 10-12 weeks, will offer insights into recovery efficiency, specific training load adjustments, and preventing under- or over- loading training volume and intensity. 

  • Metabolic Efficiency: Analyzing lactate profiles reveal metabolic efficiency, adaptability, and areas for potential for improvement.

Unlocking Performance through Personalized Data

Monitoring lactate biomarkers goes beyond generic concepts. By incorporating individual lactate profiles, training and exercise strategies can be personalized:   

Individualized Intensity Zones: Lactate profiles and lactate metrics vary significantly between individuals and can change significantly due to various factors. Frequent PPT monitoring ensures one trains at intensities specific to their physiology, maximizing benefits and minimizing risks of injury and underperformance.

  • Dynamic adjustments: Frequent PPT assessments allow for precise adjustments to training to maximize adaptation and avoid plateaus.

  • Injury prevention: Lactate profile assessments will indicate if the training stress is beyond what one is capable of handling at any given moment. Early detection of a reduction on one’s physiological range allows for immediate corrective measures, preventing overreach injuries and ensuring optimal performance.

The Tools of the Trade: Monitoring Lactate Biomarkers

Several methods exist for tracking lactate, each with its advantages and limitations:

  • Blood Finger Pricks: Traditional and accurate, but requires training and practice to master. 

  • Portable lactate analyzers: Offer on-the-go measurements for individual and group testing.  

  • Non-invasive sensors: Emerging wearable technologies measuring lactate hold promise for convenient, frequent, and continuous lactate monitoring. 

The Takeaway: A Data-Driven Approach to Peak Performance

Frequent Lactate profile testing provides the “What”, “Why” and “How” of human performance:

  • “What” type of bio-ENERGY one has available to perform work. 

  • “Why”  one may or may not be improving in his/her training, performances, or metabolic efficiency. 

  • “How” one should steer his/her training to enhance physiology to unlock potential. 

Lactate profile testing is a valuable tool in any coach, athlete, fitness enthusiast’s arsenal. Use of lactate profile data empowers coaches, athletes, and fitness enthusiast’s to train smarter, recover faster, and push performance boundaries. As technologies evolve, access and use of lactate data promises to play an even greater role in unlocking the full potential of athletes, from weekend warriors to Olympians. 

Remember, the key is not just collecting random lactate data, but using proven protocols, analytics, and applications that integrate lactate data into a personalized training strategy for continuous improvement. 

So, Go Farther Faster and embrace lactate as the KEY to UNLOCKING your potential!

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