Reducing the Burn – the Lactate Paradox

How Altitude Training is changing how we feel and perform

Over the last two years, clients have repeatedly reported that they feel stronger, more powerful and recover faster after their Altitude exposures.  Our study used elite cyclists whom all reported a power increase from as low as 10 watts and up to 25 watts over 8 x 1-hour sessions.  Runners have taken time off their personal bests that they thought was no longer possible due to age.  Recently, hikers have reached the top of Kilimanjaro without the use of altitude drugs or struggling to reach the summit.  The question arises, what changes are happening for these people in a relatively short time period?  Our summary of adaptations include:

  • Increased power on the bike
  • Increase speed while running
  • Improvedrecovery after intervals
  • Improved breathing or less hyperventilation
  • Longer fasting workouts
  • Less lactate accumulation

The last point, less lactate accumulation, is the least known but the most powerful.  This is the burn we all feel in our legs with intensive efforts whether hiking, cycling or running. The reduction of lactate with high altitude exposure has been studied and debated since the early 1980s. Researchers have noted that with altitude (hypoxic) exposure, the body produces less lactate.  This is an ideal adaptation as one of the limiting factors in any exercise bout over 30 seconds is your legs burning with pain!  The Paradox is just this. With Hypoxic exposure, the body adapts by producing less lactate at Altitude as well as Sea-level.  There are several explanations that have been postulated for the reduction in lactate which you may not understand, but we are not complaining! For more information or further discussion, please drop Cory a line at cory@tcrsportlab.com

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