In the first part of the Lactic Acid and Training series, Power Athlete shed some light on the theories behind the effects and purpose of lactic acid in the body. The scientific search for answers continues, but the strength and conditioning world cannot afford to wait for a clear answer! Our athlete’s are on the clock, and their season will start no matter if a new theory comes out disproving another we all once thought to be true.
This series will continue to take a close look at lactic acid and its implications for building Power Athletes. We will introduce essential training components, the proper application to each and why other components fail to drive optimal adaptation when training in and around the glycolytic pathway.
Lactic acid accumulation during practice and games is inevitable. Athletes need to be prepared to perform at maximal velocity in this acidic environment. Many old school strength and sport coaches take the approach of more volume is better for teaching your body to ‘deal with it!’ Speed training then takes the back seat. Although the athletes may handle lactic acid better during games, they play slow…and their defense gets a conditioning test every game. This article will examine intensity, speed training and how our knowledge of lactic acid can be applied to building a highly effective program.
Alactic Threshold Training
Objective and Effects: The objective is for the athlete to train maximal speed or power in optimal conditions, for a distance, time or repetition/s that do not put the athlete into a lactic state. Full recovery is essential for each repetition performed. The alactic threshold occurs when an athlete’s maximal speed begins to drop mechanically and biologically, roughly after 7 seconds of maximal effort depending on the athlete. This threshold is initially marked by the release of tryptophan in attempts to slow the athlete down. Simultaneously, a pH change occurs in the body with lactic acid release, although the athlete will not be able to feel this until roughly 45 seconds of intense work, when oxygen is released in the blood stream. The chemical reactions and pH change made at the onset of the alactic phase will affect the Central Nervous System by inhibiting the ability of the nerve to send an impulse across the muscle cell to keep firing on all cylinders. This will slow the muscle down before it reaches its actual limits in which, crazy enough, death would result. So when an athlete enters the lactic state, their muscles are entering self preservation.
Log in or visit our Membership Options page to see which plan fits for you!
[s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]*Premium Content begins now, please consult with the author before publicly using any of this information.*
Alactic Threshold Training Implications
Similar to VO2max, alactic capacity has a very low trainability and there is a genetic ceiling that determines the alactic threshold point. There are still factors coaches can impact. For example, an athlete’s ability to push themselves to levels of physiological trauma and regulating rest periods ensuring full recovery. The most important piece to this form of training!
Attention to training an athlete’s alactic capacity will not be necessary until your athlete approaches the NCAA championship level and beyond. Training this capacity becomes important at the championship and professional level where a very small margin of error exists, such as the alactic threshold. Improving an athlete’s 100m by .132 seconds through delaying his alatic threshold that much more than his opponents means Gold or go home. Until then, invest in the attention to detail with your athlete’s mechanics and flexibility to improve speed and/or power. You can however take what we know about the alactic threshold and apply it to the speed training you subscribe to your athletes.
Improving speed requires repeated exposure in conditions of complete recovery. Athlete’s must run at 95-100% of their fastest times in order to stimulate speed improvement during these sessions. Most coaches have a hard time grasping this concept of REST and FULL recovery during training sessions. To help put this in perspective, take the same 95-100% Intensity and apply this to weight training. Calculate 95% of your 1RM back squat, put the weight on the bar, then perform 1 rep every 2 minutes. How long will you survive at that intensity?! Not long at all. Welbourn has a great write up on Intensity from a couple years back, click here to check it out.
You will see these prescribed as Intensity Runs on CrossFitFootball.com and Field Strong program with a range of maximal efforts, followed by full recovery. Not all of these runs will be straight ahead. Very few times in sports we have an opportunity to run straight ahead, so be sure to include Intensity change of direction work. For example:
Perform 4-7 Reps of the 20 Yard Pro Short Shuttle
*Rest as needed between efforts.
This range of efforts is important for coaches to understand when working with athletes and teams. If an athlete falls out of their 95% Intensity, even with full recovery, the session is over. They will no longer be driving an anabolic adaptation, and anymore runs will negatively affect their recovery for the next session. The most optimal training approach for Intensity runs is starting an athlete with 1 maximum effort the first speed session, and then gradually build their ability to tolerate more reps at maximal speed. Almost like a linear speed progression; 1 the first session, 2 the next, and so on, slowly building their ability to replicate maximal speed. As you move the athlete along through training you will need to identify the limiting factor/s that prevent the increase and replication of speed. Stride length, stride frequency, mechanics, VO2max, or Lactic threshold.
What are you training for?
Speed is a weapon in every sport, and an athlete’s ability to replicate it determines their success. Common mistake coaches make is sprinting with shorter breaks, but this trains lactic tolerance, not speed. Above is a quintessential training component for building Power Athletes, maximal intensity efforts. These maximal effort sprints with full recovery focus on expansion of the athlete’s speed and the ability to replicate maximal intensity.
Part 3 of our Lactic Acid and Training series will dive into the psychology of discomfort, sub-maximal efforts in the acidic environment, and the importance of balancing Intensity and Volume conditioning. You will learn how lactic acid can become the looking glass into regulating this balance through athlete improvement in lactic tolerance, replication of speed, and recovery from run to run and session to session.
MS, CSCS, SCCC, CHES
Book a consult with me regarding coaching, training, life, education... anything your heart desires. Click below:
Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Never miss out on an epic blog post or podcast, drop your email below and we’ll stay in-touch.